Unlocking the Vault: Investing in Greater Access

Gift keeps collection accessible.

Researchers have long known the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room is a historical treasure trove, heavily used by genealogists, historians, preservationists, journalists and students. Thanks to generous private investments and endowment support, the collection is easier than ever to access.

The Library Edition of popular genealogy software Ancestry.com is now available in all Library branches, and Carolina Room staff offer programs and research assistance online, over the phone and in Libraries and offsite locations throughout the County.

Another critical step is digitization. Some of the room’s most popular collections and exhibits are already available online at cmstory.org, and preparations are underway to ultimately digitize more of the collection.

Community historian Dr. Tom Hanchett recently joined the Carolina Room as the Library’s first Historian-in-Residence, and he’s right at home. “The Carolina Room has been a second home for me since I arrived in Charlotte 38 years ago to research the city’s older neighborhoods. It’s an honor to be in this role, sharing our region’s rich history and the Library’s resources with the community.” Dr. Hanchett has already launched a series of history-based programs throughout the County.

Maps Online

The Library’s collection of historic maps is of special interest to donor Paul Kardous. “The Carolina Room is a treasured resource. After spending many hours doing research and looking through old maps and city plans, I thought the best way to say ‘thank you’ was to make a gift to help further the collection in a small way to help continue to have this amazing collection at the heart of our region.”

Paul’s gift will be used to outsource the digitization of the room’s oversized maps. “Digitization is a high priority right now, and our historic maps are a special challenge because many are fragile and difficult to handle. By digitizing this collection, we can provide broader access online while preserving these important artifacts,” explains archivist Sydney Vaile.

Did You Know?

In addition to the largest collection of genealogical resources from all fifty states in a North Carolina public library, the Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room’s archival assets include historical photos and postcards; Charlotte Observer negatives; school yearbooks; family, business and non-profit records and documents; one of the largest collections of local music in North Carolina; historic and modern maps of the Carolinas; records for all North Carolina counties; historic newspapers and government documents and statistics. Not to mention a substantial collection of artifacts, scrapbooks and other memorabilia.

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