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RFPL awarded preservation grant

Access the Cataloged Photograph Collection during library hours. For more information about this project and other local historical resources, call the library at 802-463-4270, visit the library, or visit

BELLOWS FALLS—The Rockingham Free Public Library recently received a $6,000 National Endowment for the Humanities “Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions.”

Through the grant, the RFPL’s historic glass plate negative collection and large-format photographs will be rehoused in glass plate negative-specific padded boxes, wrappers, a flat file and large format folders for the large-format items.

Once properly stored for preservation, the items will join the library’s Catalogued Photograph Collection.

In 2010, the RFPL received an Institute for Museum and Library Services preservation grant that funded the duplication and re-housing of approximately 4,000 historic photographic prints from the Library’s Cataloged Photograph Collection. This grant is a continuation of that project.

Historical images of particular interest include aerial views documenting changes to Bellows Falls over the second half of the 19th century; an 1869 photograph of Ulysses S. Grant speaking from The Island House; and a portrait of Wall Street genius Hetty Green on her Bellows Falls porch.

The most frequently consulted local history collection in the library, the Cataloged Photograph Collection has been used by local researchers and visiting scholars exploring changes to the local environment, immigrant populations, notable figures, architecture, culture, and family history.

While Reference and Historical Collections Librarian Emily Zervas is leaving her position at Rockingham Free Public Library at the end of the year to direct Putney Public Library, she will continue to work part-time to complete the grant-funded activities as well as other historical collections-related tasks.

With the support of the RFPL’s Historical Collections Committee, Zervas has applied for and overseen the activities for several successful grants relating to the preservation and display of the Library’s historical collections.

Now that dedicated historical collections storage is available, she says she plans to focus her part-time work on finishing up cataloging, rehousing, and organizing the historical collections.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #285 (Wednesday, December 17, 2014). This story appeared on page A4.

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