Book enthusiasts from around the country convened in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, recently. They came together for the annual Alabama Center for the Book Gathering with its 2012 focus on special collections and archives. The event gave Birmingham Public Library (BPL) representatives an opportunity to brag about the special collections housed at the Central Library. BPL participants included Director Renee Blalock, Associate Director Angela Fisher Hall, Trustee Samuel Rumore, Jr., and retiree Mary Bess Paluzzi (former head of BPL’s Southern History Department).
During a “Speed Talk” discussion moderated by professors from the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama, BPL representatives briefly pointed out the following about the library’s special collections:
• the Archives houses more than 30 million documents and photographs on the history of Birmingham and serves as the archives for the City of Birmingham;
• the Southern History Department has been named one of the top ten genealogical libraries in the country by Family Tree Magazine along with New York Public Library, Dallas Public Library, and Denver Public Library; and
• the Government Documents Department is the only designated Federal Depository Library and Patent and Trademark Resource Center in the State of Alabama.
A highlight of this year’s event was a presentation by Dr. John Y. Cole, Director of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. In his address to the audience, Cole gave an overview on opportunities and options for special collections and archives for the next 3-5 years. The annual meeting was hosted by Dr. Louis Pitschmann, Dean of Libraries at the University of Alabama. He also serves are Director for the Alabama Center for the Book. Also participating in the event was Dr. Heidi Julien, Director of the School of Library and Information Studies.