Poynter Memorial Library Unveils Special Collections Room

From left to right: Interim Regional Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Olufunke Fontenot, Interim Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock and Dean of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library Catherine Cardwell unveil a newly revamped Special Collections Reading Room at USF St. Petersburg.

From left to right: Interim Regional Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Olufunke Fontenot, Interim Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock and Dean of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library Catherine Cardwell unveil a newly revamped Special Collections Reading Room at USF St. Petersburg.

(May 7, 2018) – A newly revamped Special Collections Reading Room offers students and researchers opportunities to further their studies utilizing rare books, personal manuscripts and archival materials. Last month, the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library unveiled the renovated room and its unique collection that ranges from Mark Twain to natural history.

“The reading room is a teaching space,” said Catherine Cardwell, Dean of the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library. “Using primary archival materials allows students to get a first-hand account of historical moments that they might not otherwise encounter.”

From a handful of books and personal papers of Nelson Poynter, this collection has grown dramatically over the last few decades. Some of the most significant items include:

  • The John C. Briggs Collection of Ichthyology and Natural History, which includes a significant number of rare and valuable titles that span the 16th to the 20th century;
  • The David S. Hubbell Collection of Twainiana, with original and early editions of books published by Mark Twain; and
  • An extensive array of publications that chronicles Florida history and nature, with an emphasis on St. Petersburg and Pinellas County and featuring work of USF St. Petersburg professors Ray Arsenault and Gary Mormino.

During the unveiling ceremony, the Library also showcased the revamped Digital USFSP, an open, web-based repository of significant print and digital materials launched in 2011. Digital USFSP is home to the university’s scholarly output from faculty and students, official records, publications and documentation of current community partnerships.

“Now researchers from around the world can learn more about the exceptional work being done at USFSP,” Cardwell said. “To date, we have had users from 135 countries and 996 institutions download more than 20,000 full-text items, which include faculty publications and student scholarship.”

One of the most valuable features of the repository is acting as the digital home for the Weekly Challenger. This 50 year-old community publication has served as the voice of Pinellas County’s African-American community, covering important historical issues such as school desegregation and corporate hiring practices. In 2016, with funding from the State of Florida through then State Rep. Darryl Rousson, the Library received funding to digitize, preserve and sustain the Weekly Challenger.

Both the Special Collections Reading Room and Digital USFSP support teaching, learning and community engagement at the university.

More information can be found at: http://lib.usfsp.edu/special-collections/home