Weatherford Democrat

Local News

August 30, 2011

Library grant funds to preserve historical documents

WEATHERFORD — A $71,803 grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission will assist the Weatherford Public Library in preserving historical documents as well as making them available for public view.

Dale Fleeger, director of library services at WPL, said the library has Parker County artifacts dating back to the mid 1800s, most of which are hidden away because of their fragile condition.

Funds from the grant will change that through the project Preserving and Expanding Access to Culture and History, or PEACH, a continuation of the Parker County Library Association. Funds for the association have been award to Weatherford the past three years.

“They’ve been collecting things over the years and have not been able to handle them or make them available to people,” he said. “There are some document available on 16mm microfilm. Another group has been making digital images of those, and we need to catalogue them.”

He said these items really haven’t had any demand from library patrons at this point, but once they are available, he thinks that will change.

“This is kind of a hidden collection,” Fleeger said. “We have a tremendous amount of material on microfilm — papers back to the early 1900s — and those get a lot of use. I think once people become aware of what we have, it will get used.”

This one-year grant is 100 percent funded, meaning no matching dollars are required from the city, but Dale Fleeger expects the program to continue in the future.

“What we’ll be looking for in this first year are the most fragile documents,” he said. “Some are so delicate that we can’t handle them. But some of the equipment is portable, so we can go out to a site and make a digital image of the item so it doesn’t have to be moved or handled.”

Much of the grant funds will go toward equipment, Fleeger said, along with some additional staff. He expects continuing the service after year one will cost the library $10,000 to $12,000.

Fleeger has spoken with the Springtown museum and the Doss Heritage and Culture Center about their collections and is working to organize a summit for all the organizations to meet, talk about the grant and identify items that should be preserved.

He is also hopeful community members will jump on board with the project and bring in historical items like letters from the Civil War and such to be added to the collection. If items are too fragile to move, he said the library would come to them.

Six Texas libraries received cooperation grants from the TSLAC to promote development of public and private partnerships among libraries, civic agencies and community-based organizations.

“With funding growing scarce everywhere, Texas libraries rely on grant dollars more than ever,”  TSLAC Director and Librarian Peggy D. Rudd said in a release. “These grants will help sustain and improve library programs and services throughout Texas.”

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