A visit to the ANA Library
Written by: William D. Hyder
I recently had the opportunity to spend a week at ANA headquarters researching Thomas Elder medals. Most of my time was spent in the library immersing myself in numismatic literature of the early 1900s.
I realize that many ANA members will likely never make a trip to headquarters, but they should not hesitate to contact the staff with their research questions.
As an ANA member, I have made use of my borrowing privileges and find the service to be a valuable benefit of membership. I have not personally made use of the research services the librarians offer (for a small fee), but I probably will in the future. Nothing, however, beats an in-person visit.
I made arrangements ahead of my visit so staff knew I was coming and knew my research goals. While visiting with the members of the library staff, I was pleasantly surprised to see they had work notes posted next to their computers and my research topics were noted along with other daily tasks. I must say that made me feel welcome.
Most of the time, I worked at a table behind the library circulation desk, Kendra Johnson's workstation. We chatted about my interests in the early history of U.S. numismatics and her Master's thesis on Nazi counterfeiters. She also shared her enthusiasm over the Frank Gasparro papers she was preparing for public exhibit at the Dallas National Money Show. What a special treat to be able to examine a new donation as it was being prepared for public presentation. If I had to identify one drawback to working in the library, it would be the many distractions so readily at hand for a numismatist.
Despite the distractions, the staff (Amanda, Kendra, and Natalya) helped keep me focused. I serve on the ANA IT Advisory Committee, so I took the opportunity to meet with staff working on the web and other IT projects while in Colorado Springs. When I would return to my research in the library after taking breaks, I would find a stack of new references Kendra had located and pulled for my use while I was gone. Our chats helped her understand my research goals, and she used that knowledge to help me cover more ground by finding material that I might not have had time to find on my own.
While the circulating library is a great asset, one has to make a personal visit to realize the depth of the library resources. For example, the rare book room houses materials too fragile or valuable to circulate. Items can be used in the library one at a time with various restrictions based on how fragile they might be. Elder's monthly publication and auction catalogs were there for my use. I have managed to acquire a few issues for my own library over the years, but the rare book room contained an extensive collection invaluable to my research.
The ANA auction catalog collection is equally impressive, although an index is not yet available on the web. An Excel file can be searched on site or one could ask the library staff to search the file for any specific auction catalog you might need. They are working to make the index available on the web, so watch for that valuable resource in the future.
Kendra also introduced me to the ANA archives, another great resource that proved valuable for my research as well. Again, a lot of work remains to be done to catalog the materials and I suspect that will not be done any time soon, but the librarians are familiar with the resources and can perform searches and scan materials for nominal fees. Following my visit, she located letters associated with Farran Zerbe and The Numismatist that are related to my research interests. She will be sharing the letters in a separate blog entry soon.
I returned home after a week in Colorado Springs with more than enough material to keep me busy for the next several months. I had a good idea of what I could accomplish in the library, but I learned so much more than I expected about the ANA resources by visiting in person.
I realize that many ANA members will likely never make a trip to headquarters, but they should not hesitate to contact the staff with their research questions. I found the staff to be the most valuable library resource and they helped make my visit a pleasant experience as well as a productive research trip.