Federal Funding Impact Story #11

Project: Archives, Astoria Public Library

This post is the 11th in the series “Federal Funding Impact Stories,” as published on the ArchivesAWARE blog. As archivists, librarians, and museum professionals, we know how our collections, institutions, and local communities have benefited from grant funding from federal agencies, such as: Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Personal impact is powerful. Submitted stories will be posted to the ArchivesAWARE blog by the SAA Committee on Public Awareness, and promoted by the Society of American Archivists through their website and social media channels. All posts will be tagged #ImpactStories, along with tags for the funding agency and the state where the home institution is located. We hope to gather stories representing all types of archival repositories, and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, so please consider sharing your story–no impact is too small when it comes to advocating for federal support for the arts and humanities!

This Federal Funding Impact Story comes to us from Astoria Public Library, located in Astoria, Oregon. Astoria is a port city situated at the junction of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean. It was named after John Jacob Astor, an investor from New York City whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria in 1811. Astoria holds the distinction of being the first, permanent, non-Native American settlement on the Pacific coast. The collection holds nearly 70,500 physical items, including historical materials unique to Astoria and the Pacific Northwest region. The City of Astoria’s earliest records are general ledgers, lien documents, general warrants, planning maps, and settler-era cemetery records. In addition, there are materials documenting Astoria’s growth specific to logging, salmon, cannery industries, and additional port-related activities.

Federal Funding Information


This archive initiative began when Jimmy Pearson became the Library Director at Astoria Public Library in October 2016. For decades, archive materials dated from the present to before the founding of Astoria (1811) collected in the library basement. A previous lack of interest and resources meant the collections remained dormant and unidentified until recently: 2018. With an Oregon Heritage grant ($21,700), Director Pearson engaged a consulting historian and archivist, and put together a plan for approximately 1200 linear feet of historical materials. Under Pearson’s leadership, a team of experts and library volunteers worked to complete a collection assessment that identified needs and recommendations.  Training for handling and processing archival collections was delivered and an amazing cadre of volunteers have since processed approximately half of the collection. With an assessment performed and actionable activities identified, the next phase for the library was to find a sustainable yet effective method of publishing collections online for the community to access freely.

A note on the critical role local grants play.

It’s important to note that the Oregon Heritage grant was the first grant the library received for work on the basement archives, and it allowed the library to bring in additional expertise to help guide necessary foundation work. Upon successfully completing the grant, Director Pearson was able to seek out and secure both an Oregon Cultural Trust and an Institute for Museum and Library Services grants for FY2020 and FY2021. The work completed during the Oregon Heritage grant provided an essential underpinning to the application requests. Information gathered during the collection assessment, the adoption of a clear collection plan, and an existing base of trained volunteers helped create a compelling case for further funding. For organizations that are just starting out or are newer to grant writing, applying for local grants is a necessary first step and should be included in their funding strategy.

In March 2022, APL received a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant to digitize The Astoria Toveri. The Toveri was a newspaper produced by the Finnish community in Astoria in the early-20th century. The grant will be used to support a partnership with the University of Oregon Libraries’ Oregon Digital Newspaper Program. Digitization efforts will begin between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023

Specific to the IMLS grant, what was the need for the grant?

The archive collection was locked in the basement, unprocessed, and forgotten—for decades. No one knew what was down there, the community couldn’t access the materials, and the items remained largely unused in any regional history work. Two previous grants helped to facilitate assessment, identification, and description of the collections, but nothing was online. It was impossible to find the treasure trove of historical materials unless you knew about the basement in Astoria’s public library. The next step for the library was to shift to digital, but digitization, description creation, and cataloging projects are a massive undertaking—especially for a small, rural library. Additionally, a platform needed to be selected to facilitate the storage and presentation of the digitized collection.

What did the IMLS-funded project do to help meet this need?

With the IMLS grant, the library was able to thoughtfully research and select a platform that incorporates the following:

  • Digital preservation best practices
  • Archival descriptive standards
  • Easy to use for all user types
  • Financially sustainable
  • Facilitates online collection access  

Once a platform was in place, the team was able to move forward with describing, cataloging, and publishing 500 collection items to be available online.  

Where we found best practices meets sustainability.

Permanent.org meets a majority of the library’s identified needs for an online collection platform. In choosing Permanent.org, the library was able to use the IMLS award to cover the 1x cost for joining. (There is no annual cost). This fiscal advantage means Director Pearson doesn’t have to worry about finding money annually to cover the cost. Additionally, as Permanent.org is cloud-based with a supportive team and community, the library can benefit from Permanent.org-provided support—keeping the cost of outside technical support down.  For the library, Permanent.org offered the best balance of: easy to use, meets digital preservation best practices, and is financially sustainable. In other words, it’s permanent.

To offer a balanced perspective, it is important to note that Permanent.org wasn’t originally created for archives, and doesn’t host the usual data fields we’ve come to expect. Currently, to meet basic requirements for Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), missing data fields like “Creator” or “Identifier” have to use the tag field to capture the information. For example: “Creator:John Smith”. On a technical level this appears to meet DACS, though not in the traditional way we are used to.

For more on Permanent.org, please check out this webinar.

For more information on how Astoria Public Library is using Permanent.org, check out the Family Archiving with Permanent.org and Rachael Woody webinar that originally aired on September 20, 2021.

Abstract: Amberly Russell, Preservation Services Manager at Permanent hosts this informative talk about Preservation Services and what it is like working to create lasting legacies online. In this webinar we speak to Professional Archivist Consultant Rachael Cristine Woody about her experiences creating digital archives online for family and organizations.

Link: https://youtu.be/_hySRr2KWTg

Without volunteers, this project would not have been possible. No, seriously.

The COVID-19 pandemic altered our ability to do the project as originally envisioned. A squad of the library’s volunteers had received updated training and were meant to facilitate digitization and description work. This was no longer possible due to pandemic-related closures and limitations. Fortunately, the IMLS grant included budget lines for a consulting archivist and historian who now needed to perform the bulk of the descriptive work. But even this work wouldn’t have been possible without the thousands of volunteer hours invested prior to this project. For example, digital archivist volunteer, Eric Williams spent more than five years scanning items in the collection. When it was clear the IMLS project would need to be altered and mostly remote, the project was able to pull from the hundreds of items that had already been digitized, helpfully labeled, and available via Dropbox—thanks to Mr. Williams. Additionally, prior to the pandemic, Clatsop Community College students contributed to collection care, management, and identification while under John Goodenberger’s supervision. Their work provided insight into multiple facets of the collection and were the basis for descriptive work. Director Pearson notes that 1200 volunteer hours were contributed during this project thanks to Ove and Barbara Rasmussen, and Eric Williams.

In April 2022, Eric Williams was named an Oregon Heritage Commission Standout Heritage Volunteer as part of the Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards. Please join us in congratulation Eric on this well-deserved acknowledgement!

COVID-19 forced a reimagining of community outreach.

Available federal funding has a natural focus on how the award will benefit the community. Originally, the outreach the library intended to do involved onsite collection tours and a traveling lecture series. Neither of these were possible during 2020 and 2021. However, Director Pearson and the consultants were able to reimagine the in-person events into virtual events and recordings. There is now a YouTube playlist of collection features, an Ask Me Anything event, and showcasing the collections online. Below is a link to the playlist and a few example videos.

The Astoria Public Library playlist on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRbHqbP8MyF0bNamQW-_RcKnjiG1RJVgW

The Astoria Public Library Archive Collections are Online, published October 28, 2021.

Abstract: This video announces the completion of an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to digitize, describe, and publish 500 historical artifacts online via Permanent.org. Jimmy Pearson (Library Director) introduces the recorded announcement followed by Rachael Woody (archivist) and John Goodenberger (historian) who discuss the IMLS project, explain how they adapted their work due to COVID-19, and showcase the final product with Goodenberger highlighting several of the items and their interconnection. The collections can be viewed on Permanent.org here: https://https://www.permanent.org/p/archive/03pw-0000.

Link: https://youtu.be/r8cSsEO73FI

Ask Me Anything: Astoria Public Library’s Historical Collections, published December 17, 2020.

Abstract: This is an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session where City of Astoria historian John Goodenberger and consulting archivist Rachael Woody team up to answer questions related to the history of Astoria and the treasure trove of historical artifacts found in the basement of the Astoria Public Library. This webinar was made possible thanks to the Astor Library Friends Association and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Link: https://youtu.be/wzM9bstOPcc

Featuring the August Hildebrand Collection from Astoria Public Library, published November 14, 2020.

Abstract: This video features items from the August Hildebrand collection. Listen in as city historian John Goodenberger shares highlights from the collection with consulting archivist, Rachael Woody. This project was made possible thanks to the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Link: https://youtu.be/wPnEUeAF2K4

What was the primary impact of this project?

The historical collections at Astoria Public Library are now online via Permanent.org! The immediate and obvious impact is the library was able to acquire a critically necessary tool for broader access to the historical materials. The IMLS award made it possible for the library to implement Permanent.org and upload more than 500 digitized and described collection items. Thanks to the IMLS award and previous volunteer work, the library could continue making progress on the archive in an adjusted form. Finally, reimagined outreach in the form of videos has already attracted attention and use by Astorians, historians, the Preservation Artisans Guild of Portland (OR), and the great-granddaughter of August Hildebrand (the creator of one of our featured collections)!

APL would like to thank John Goodenberger and Eric Williams for their extensive contributions toward chronicling the history of Astoria, Oregon. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant: LG-27-19-0187-19.

About the Author: Rachael Cristine Woody is the owner of Rachael Cristine Consulting, a firm that provides services to archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations. Rachael holds an MSLIS with a concentration in archives management, and more than 15 years of experience in history organizations — including the Smithsonian Institution and the Oregon Wine History Archive.

Federal Funding Impact Story #9

Project: Collections and Facility Assessment and Planning


“The Price We Paid: An Anthology of the Desegregation of Mississippi State College for Women” was created in 2016 as part of the Those Who Dared event series commemorating the 50th anniversary of desegregation. This project is the product of a significant collaboration between the MUW Archives and the History, Political Science, and Geography Department at MUW.

Granting Agency: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Grant Program: Collections Assessment for Preservation Program
Institution: Mississippi University for Women
State: Mississippi
Congressional District: 1st Mississippi Congressional District
Grant Period: April 2013-March 2014
Award Amount: $7,190

Project Description
The Conservation Assessment Program funds a collections conservator and a facility conservator to visit a repository or 2-3 days, identify problem areas, and develop an action plan for the institution.

What was the need for the grant?
The archives had been dormant for several decades before hiring an archivist in 2012. It was in very poor shape, with extensive water and mold damage to the records, poor facility conditions (it was left in a vacant building with no climate or pest control), and little access for potential researchers. We were hoping to bring in some professionals to give us a sense of where to start and what to prioritize in bringing the archives back online.

What has been the primary impact of this project?
This project ultimately allowed us to preserve and provide access to our collections on the first publicly-funded women’s college in the United States. Subsequent research by students in our collections has revealed insights into subjects like racial integration at southern institutions, and early women’s education in the United States, which has led to public programming and discussion in the community.

The grant allowed us to bring two conservators to campus for several days. The priorities they developed with us served as a road map to saving the materials in the archives, which is now in a better facility, with better conditions, and is used by students every semester for class research projects.

Submission by: Derek Webb, Special Collections Librarian/University Archivist, Mississippi University for Women
Image credit to Mississippi University for Women.

Federal Funding Impact Story #6

Project: Michiana Memory Digitizing Local African American, Latinx, and LGBTQ Materials in St. Joseph County, Indiana

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Odie Mae Johnson, at graduation, 1931. Courtesy of Indiana University South Bend Archives.

Granting Agency: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Grant Program: LSTA Grants to States
State Library Administrator: Indiana State Library
Institutions: St. Joseph County Public LibraryIndiana University South Bend ArchivesIU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center
State: Indiana
Congressional District: 2nd Indiana Congressional District
Grant Period: 2014-2017
Award Amount: $28,880
Institutional Match Amount: $6,000

Jobs Created:
3 FTE for 36 months
9 PTE 20 hr/wk positions for 36 months.

Project Description
In January 2014, the St. Joseph County Public Library reached out to the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center and IU South Bend Archives to combine their collections related to African American and civil rights history. The combined archives launched within the Michiana Memory history website in February 2015. Since then, thousands of guests have accessed the materials. The renewal of the LSTA Indiana Memory Digitization Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services of the Indiana State Library in 2015 led to the inclusion of more materials than ever, including oral histories about African American and Latino history, and the first collection of LGBTQ history in the Michiana community. Guests can access the collections now by visiting http://michianamemory.sjcpl.org.

What was the need for the grant?
We saw the need to make digital content available to the public from St. Joseph County, Indiana. And specifically we wanted to make voices speak out from the primary sources from marginalized portions of our community: African Americans, Latinos, and LGBTQ communities. The Archives at Indiana University South Bend partnered with the St. Joseph County Public Library and the Civil Rights Heritage Center to make this happen.

What has been the primary impact of this project?
We have been monitoring use through Google Analytics – and seeing it in use in the thousands every month. The Archivist at IU South Bend has also been seeing many students’ bibliographies citing the site for primary source research. Further, many reference requests are spurred by people’s use of the site. The requests come in on the national – and sometimes international – level. Consistently – month by month – using Google Analytics – the Civil Rights and African American History section of Michiana Memory, funded by LSTA and IMLS, is in the 2,000 to 3,000 user area – the highest user area of all the sections on the local history site.

Submission by: Alison Stankrauff, Archivist and Associate Librarian, Indiana University South Bend

Federal Funding Impact Story #5

Project: Music Quest


Granting Agency: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Grant Program: LSTA Grants to States
State Library Administrator: California State Library
Grant Program: Eureka! Leadership Program
Institution: Contra Costa County Library
State: California
Congressional District: 11th California Congressional District
Grant Period: 2014-2015
Award Amount: $5,000
Institutional Match Amount: $5,000

Project Description
Music Quest was created to help supplement the lack of music programs in the lower income community in Pittsburg, CA by offering free music workshops for teens, which allowed them to learn the fundamentals of playing musical instruments, improve their reading and social skills, and to help them learn how to integrate music into their

What was the need for the grant?
The objective of implementing this program at the Pittsburg Library and Oakley Library was to offer lower income youth an introduction to music at no cost, which would enhance their understanding and knowledge of music and empower them to seek out other musical opportunities. After doing extensive research it was determined that music is a highly effective motivator for teens and as I have seen first hand it can change a teens life to learn to play an instrument.  After delivering the guitar and drum workshops, it was clear that the students were learning basic skill levels in guitar and drums and would be able to continue to play on their own. After these workshops, these students began to understand the power of music lessons and wanted to continue with instruction to further their skill and knowledge.  Some of the students were at the time of the workshop sessions homeless and despite their challenged living situation they attended every single workshop.  It became clear that when the teens were learning and playing the instruments they became inspired, motivated, and wanted to learn more.  They also connected with their fellow peers, bonded, and some formed lasting friendships and are still connected even now.

What has been the primary impact of this project?
Music Quest participants were evaluated on attendance plus participation and were given a survey at the end of the workshop series in order to gauge increased skill level, opinion of the workshop content and the instruction process. By observing the workshops and evaluating the surveys, the results proved that all of the teens that participated in the guitar workshops ended up with more than a basic understanding of the different parts of the guitar, tuning, and were able to learn chord progressions and drum beats. The program definitely had an impact on the local community.  Partnerships were made with the City of Pittsburg and Pittsburg High School, Freedom High School in Oakley. Local music instructors were chosen to give the lessons and spent many hours working with the teens at the library.  Local musicians visited the sessions and a special finale concert was put together for the community to gather together to see these amazing teens play instruments.

A total of 87 students participated in the Music Quest program over a one year span at the library.  After taking the music lesson workshops, these students began to understand the power of music lessons and wanted to continue with instruction to further their skill and knowledge. In addition, through the workshop survey, it was determined that all of the students that participated in the guitar and drum workshops agreed that music is a lifelong source of enrichment and became much more interested
and aware of music opportunities available to them such as careers in music, recording, and sound management.

Submission by: Kimberli Buckley, Community Library Manager, Contra Costa County Library