Sargeant Memorial Room for Local History and Genealogy
Collection Development Policy
The SARGEANT MEMORIAL ROOM (SMR) is named in honor of William Henry Sargeant, librarian in charge of the Norfolk Public Library from 1895 until his death in 1917. Although not a Virginian by birth, Mr. Sargeant was interested in building a collection of Norfolk and Virginia materials, believing that a complete file of city newspapers and directories "ought to be somewhere easy to access, and where better than in the library?" His efforts were rewarded in May 1927, when the Library Board Room was made fireproof in order to house the collection begun by Mr. Sargeant thirty years earlier. Since that time, the staff of the Sargeant Room has continued to collect and maintain a historical collection of Norfolkiana, Virginiana and genealogy. The collection has expanded beyond Mr. Sargeant's vision of a complete file of newspapers and city directories. The room now houses more than 16,000 books, 3,700 microforms and 20,000 photographs. All materials are non-circulating.
General Selection Guidelines
The purpose of the collection is to provide resource materials targeted towards individuals conducting local history or genealogical research in the Sargeant Memorial Room. The SMR collection contains a wealth of historical and genealogical research information that focuses on the City of Norfolk, the State of Virginia and surrounding states, such as Maryland, Tennessee, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, the District of Columbia, and West Virginia. The collection also provides selective material on the Commonwealth of Virginia and histories and census information for states contiguous to Virginia. Patron requests are considered when ordering new materials. A policy of not circulating the materials in the Sargeant Memorial Room is essential to ensure the collection and preservation of historic materials.
The Sargeant Memorial Room collection consists of subject areas that focus on the geographical locations listed below.
A. City of Norfolk, Norfolk County, Princess Anne County
F. Maryland/The District of Columbia
G. West Virginia State
Materials purchased and collected are rated according to the following categories.
1=Significant amount, 2=Selectively, 3=few, 4=None
1. County Court Records A1, B1, C2, D2, E4, F3, G3, H3
2. Family Histories A1, B3, C2, D4, E4, F4, G4, H4
3. County and City Histories A1, B2, C2, D2, E3, F3, G3, H3
4. Photographs A1, B2, C3, D4, E4, F4, G4, H4
5. Census Films A1, B1, C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, H1
6. Maps A1, B1, C1, D2, E3, F3, G3, H3
Types of Materials
The collection consists of materials that relate to the history of the Tidewater Area such as books, photographs, manuscripts, and maps. Most of the materials that are donated are accessible to the public or stored in a special location in the Library.
Gifts and Donations
Gifts and donations are important to supplementing the collection. The Sargeant Memorial Room will accept gifts of county records, histories and family histories from a broad range of localities, including from out-of-state. Indeed, it relies heavily on gifts of family histories to supplement its collection, as the library cannot afford to purchase all that are available.
Donations are accepted if they can be used in an effective manner. Donations that are determined to have a more selective use in another more suitable environment are not accepted, but referred to other locations that may or may not accept the donation. Selectivity is critical to the maintenance of the collection in order for the collection to continue to support its core research areas.
Gifts of money, given outright or as memorials, are also accepted and can be designated for the Sargeant Memorial Room exclusively. If the donor has a special area of interest, it will be taken into consideration when making the purchase. All gift materials are acknowledged and gift-plated.
Many items in the SMR collection are deteriorating through age and poor original paper quality. A thorough needs assessment should be undertaken and a long-range preservation plan effected before many items are lost forever. The library will also explore external funding opportunities for this purpose. Areas to consider include:
Deselection and Retention of Materials
In a permanent collection such as this, materials are deselected only when a replacement copy is available. Storage space, therefore, is a critical factor in retention policy. The Library will explore external funding opportunities for a ventilated, climate-controlled storage area that would assist in easing the crowding of the collection in the room, while still making materials readily available to researchers who request them.
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