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Thoughts on the connection between collection development and research/information need

A friend just posted this really interesting Atlantic article on Facebook about “redlining” and a project called T-RACES, or Testbed for for the Redlining Archives of California’s Exclusionary Spaces that brought me back to my first year as a govt documents librarian in 2002.

“The Racist Housing Policy That Made Your Neighborhood.” Alexis C. Madrigal. The Atlantic, May 22, 2014.

My very first librarian job after graduating from UIUC was as govt documents librarian at UC San Diego. I had a *tiny* part in the project with Richard Marciano (nee San Diego Supercomputer Center and UNC, and now the director of the newly formed Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC) at University of Maryland) that became T-RACES mentioned in the Atlantic. The project used annual reports from the Federal Housing Administration (1934 – 1968) and georeferenced FHA’s “residential security maps” to glaringly show the impact of historically racist government policies on the economic plight of African Americans and other minorities and the neighborhoods in which they resided.

Working on this project ingrained in me early on the value of historic documents in libraries and the importance of collections work that librarians need to do continuously in order to aid the research process, though the threads between point of collection and research/information need can stretch over decades. I’ll always be indebted to Richard for his kindness and willingness to include this newbie librarian in the early days of his project and for instilling those values in me.

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