NSights Blog

University Libraries' sesquicentennial archivist brings University's history to life

Sesquicentennial Archivist Rebecca Sparagowski discusses how various University Libraries departments are contributing to the celebration of the University's 150th anniversary

On October 12th, the University kicked off its yearlong sesquicentennial celebration, which will culminate on Oct. 12, 2024.

A big anniversary like this is exciting, because it’s a chance to look back and reminisce, but also to look forward and plan where to go next. To make both of those things happen at once, it takes teamwork and a wide range of knowledge.

For the University of Nevada, Reno’s 150th anniversary, that’s where the University Libraries come in. The Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center (MIKC), part of the Libraries, is home to several departments which contribute to the University’s vibrant intellectual culture. This year, all those departments are also contributing to the sesquicentennial celebration.

As the sesquicentennial archivist, I was brought on in September of this year to promote archival research and provide support around the sesquicentennial celebrations and activities. In this role, I’ve been able to work with all the departments in the MIKC, and to get a unique perspective on the work they do and how it contributes to the University community.

University Libraries

The University Libraries (comprising the main library in the MIKC, DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library, Savitt Medical Library and Prim Library at the Lake Tahoe Campus) provide access to a wealth of information. Between the physical collections and the electronic resources, the Libraries provide researchers with almost any information they need – including strategies for conducting good research! The Libraries ensure that we operate in fact-based research, and have contributed access to technology and space for the sesquicentennial celebration.

Special Collections and University Archives

Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), located on the third floor of the MIKC, provides a home for all sorts of historical materials. Much like the Libraries, SCUA allows us to engage in fact-based research by going to the original records. In addition to these historical documents, SCUA also houses personal materials, such as diaries and scrapbooks. These allow us to see a broader picture of the University and how its community members perceived it in their own time. As a part of the sesquicentennial celebrations, SCUA has provided research support, as well as historical photographs, documents and objects which tell the histories of the people on campus.

@One Digital Media and Technology Center

Located on the first floor of the MIKC, @One uses technology to bring big ideas to life. The posters, bunting and window clings around the library were all printed by @One. The technology available in the @One has really brought all the resources available in SCUA and the Libraries to life and made them more accessible. For example, on the second floor of the MIKC is user-friendly, interactive AR/VR-based timeline of the University history. Visitors to the MIKC are welcome to learn about University history by engaging with this memorable installation!

Digital Services

Digital Services maintains the Libraries’ websites. Not only do these sites provide information about the Libraries, SCUA and the collections, they also provide updates about new projects and allow researchers to interact with librarians and archivists. Digital Services also maintains the digital archive, which showcases a selection of the materials in SCUA in an accessible way. Their work makes research much easier and allows us to share all that research with our community, regardless of where they are physically located in the world.

As we continue through the sesquicentennial year, the Libraries will continue to provide support for anniversary events and research. Be sure to check out the University Libraries’ Sesquicentennial Resource Hub to see what’s available and how we can help!

Black and white photo from 1904 of two ladies on campus wearing top hats, Nevada sweaters, belts, and long white skirts.
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