On this visit (my second) to the third floor of the library, there were no other visitors save my class, Dr. Haley and a student worker. Archivist Mary Linn Wernet greeted us as we walked in.

Archivist Mary Linn Wernet at card catalog

Archivist Mary Linn Wernet at card catalog

She explained the Statement of Purpose, and gave the class a primer on Cammie G. Henry, the archives’ namesake. The visit included an introductory lesson on library/ archival terminology, and an explanation of some of the many resources that the Research Center houses.

 

Ms. Wernet explained the protocols of the archives, and the use of the Request for Materials form. Researchers are not to use ink pens or spiral bound notebooks. They can bring their own laptops. Researchers should call ahead. Some databases, including the Bayou Periodicals Index, are available online. Many resources are cataloged in the Cammie Henry card catalog. “Retrospective conversion” from card catalog to digital is slow and occasionally leaves out important information.

 

The Center has Louisiana books, rare books, microform, maps and newspapers, and boxes upon boxes of primary documents. Some of the primary resources available include artist Clementine Hunter, local photos, Kate Chopin, North Louisiana History, the Civil War, the Federal Writer’s Project, Red River steamboats, and of course the Cammie G. Henry manuscript collection, which according to the trifold “spans from French Colonial times through the 1940s”.  The center also houses the official archives of Northwestern State University.  It is obviously a premier archival research facility.

My biggest concern is adequate funding for the facility. Mary Linn and Sheila Thompson (Library Specialist I) work very hard to maintain a top-notch facility.  At times of state financial crisis, higher education funding is often on the chopping block. For example, this year the entire library is closed on Saturdays.