National Library Week: Doris Foley Library, preserving the history of Nevada County |

National Library Week: Doris Foley Library, preserving the history of Nevada County

Tiffany Roberts
Library Technician, Doris Foley Library

This past fall, the Doris Foley Library’s small but mighty historical research library came back under the purview of the Nevada County Community Library.

The Friends of the Nevada County Libraries successfully managed the Foley for the past seven years. Our dedicated, hard-working Friends volunteers transformed the Foley into a powerhouse of historic research, assisting patrons across the globe with questions spanning every imaginable local history topic while lovingly caring for the archival collections, books, and the beautiful building itself.

Although Nevada County Community Library has now staffed the Foley Library, our Friends volunteers will continue to cheerfully assist patrons and work on special projects. In addition, the fabulous “Bookies” that work downstairs will continue to run the renowned book sale on the first Saturday of every month.

The highly successful book sale features community donated books, DVD’s and audiobooks, which can be donated at the Madelyn Helling Library carport area or picked up by our dedicated volunteers, taken to the Foley and then sorted, and sold. The book sales are enormously popular, with the profits going back into the Nevada County Community Library through the Friends of the Nevada County Libraries.

Today, the Foley is both archival repository and research library, with books on local, state, and western history replete with local authors such as Maria Brower, Robert Wyckoff, Gage McKinney, David Comstock, and many others.

We have maps dating back to the 1850’s demarking property lines and mining claims, archival collections containing everything from property deeds to family bibles, and innumerable photographs. We have the largest regional collection of Cornish materials (and primary sources for all you researchers!). All of this is in addition to our unique Nisenan Native American collection, a treasure trove of genealogy research records and copies of nearly every single newspaper in Nevada County since 1860.

Our focus at the Foley now is to add to these rich collections and promote the accessibility and digitization of our existing collections wherever possible. The most recent addition to our archives came this past January, when we were gifted the Osbourne-Woods collection.

This vibrant, eclectic collection includes photographs, original works of art, letters, and records concerning the history of Nevada County as seen through the brilliantly artistic lens of David Osbourn and Charles Woods. Once this collection is cataloged, we will make it available to the public. It will provide an original, aesthetic window into the people, art, and architecture of Nevada County.

The Foley is also at the forefront of historical research technology — last December, the Nevada County Community Library received the Libraries Illuminated Grant from the California Library Services Board, enabling us to purchase two brand new microfilm/microfiche readers with accompanying computers and a printer. With the support of the Friends of the Nevada county Libraries we were also able to purchase a top of the line Epson photo scanner capable of rendering breathtakingly detailed historical photographs and documents.

Thus, we can begin scanning low and high-resolution photographs, preserving objects of historic value for future generations. Our first upcoming digitization project will consist of scanning and digitizing our large compilation of mortuary and obituary records, which will be available to the public on the Foley Library website. As we continue to upgrade our library technology and digitize our records, more and more materials will be easily available for patrons to use when researching a topic.

In addition to adding to the Foley collections and promoting accessibility and digitization, we will begin focusing on programming. In April, as part of National Poetry Month, the Foley will feature an exhibit on the history of Nevada County poetry, including poems by women of Nevada County, and Native American authors.

We will display locally published books of poems, accompanying works of art, and poetry-related items from our archival collections, including a love letter poem from around 1900. This summer, we will have a patriotic exhibit for the Fourth of July holiday on the history of the holiday in Nevada County, with patriotic poems and essays. We will even feature photographs and certificates from our archives of the Fourth of July parade and float contest from the roaring 20’s, courtesy of the Native Daughters of the Golden West.

Finally, for the upcoming centennial of the World War I armistice, in conjunction with Searl’s Historical Library the Foley will feature an exhibit and programs revolving around the war’s impact on the citizens of Nevada County.

At its very heart, the Foley library’s collections represent a community of researchers, patrons, students, history buffs, genealogists, and everyone in between. Our dedicated staff and fabulous Foley volunteers thrive on helping people unlock clues to the past. With the incredible support of our community, the Foley library will be able to preserve and hand down the collective history of Nevada County for many years to come.

Source: Nevada County Library

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