California State University, Long Beach
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Keeping Things In Order

Published: December 19, 2016

Chloe Pascual likes to keep things organized. As CSULB’s librarian for Special Collections and Archives it’s probably pretty much a job requirement.

“I’d like to think I’m a pretty organized person,” she said.

Now in her 11th year on campus and fourth in the University Library, Pascual followed Kristi French, who was head of special collections and archives for two decades. Pascual, the first professional librarian holding a faculty position since 1989, gave praise to her predecessor.

“Kristi knew the collection extremely well,” she said.

That’s not to say Pascual doesn’t. She does. She’s also proud of the way it stacks up to other CSU campuses.

“In the CSU, I think we are on par with most of the other universities,” she said. “Dean Roman Kochan wants to make sure we have the resources needed to succeed, have materials available to our students and that we can be a unique addition to the library.”

In a word, “unique” may be the best way to describe some of the items housed in Special Collections and Archives.

Located on the 3rd Floor (Room 300) of the library, the department contains roughly 16,000 books, more than 3,000 boxes of archival materials and 400-plus pieces of art.

“We’re really two departments in a way,” said Pascual. “Special Collections is rare books, manuscripts, artwork and photography; collections and materials that have a special need for security and have a special meaning or value to the communities. University Archives is the history of the university, things like syllabi, president’s papers, yearbooks, meeting minutes, etc.”

And they gets stuff…all kinds of stuff.

Old course catalogs and yearbooks are desirable. A little less so was a big pile of t-shirts, which they labeled and put in compact storage.

“You never know in the future what somebody is going to ask for,” said Pascual, who fills requests the same day, if possible. “We get odd requests and sometimes we are able to fulfill those because of things people brought us.”

One such “odd” request came from an alum looking for a parking pass from 1967 because he was recreating the car he had when he was a student.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t have that parking pass, but occasionally we do,” she said. “So sometimes it’s just luck if we have that particular thing for somebody. You never know until you ask.”

Pascual, who earned her undergraduate degree from Smith College in Massachusetts and a master’s from San Jose State, says the toughest part of the job may be juggling her responsibilities. She needs to make sure she does the faculty side of her job —attending conferences, conducting research and doing outreach to the campus community—while also managing her department, processing materials properly and responding to requests, whether it’s from community members or individuals from campus.

“We also get researchers from other universities who come see us,” she said, “so it’s a lot of different individuals to communicate with and I need to make sure I’m on top of it in a lot of different areas.”

Special Collections contains unusual and valuable materials including examples of early printing and binding as well as contemporary fine press publications.

Chloe Pascual
Chloe Pascual

According to Pascual, the most high-profile piece is a medieval manuscript from 1453 from Ferrara, Italy. It’s written in manuscript and is roughly contemporary with the Gutenberg Bible.

Other key items in the collections include original photographic prints from such artists as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston; fine art prints from Daumier, Kollwitz, Johns and Currier & Ives; and rare editions and letters related to such authors as D. H. Lawrence, Robinson Jeffers, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Virginia Woolf.

Other collections have a true CSULB connection, with writings by faculty like the Gerald Locklin Collection or collections initiated by CSULB faculty—The Venice Collection, The Oral History Collection and The Howard Sherain Collection.

A descriptive listing of all of CSULB’s Special Collections is available and images from the Fine Arts Collection may be viewed via the Web.

University Archives contains materials which chronicle the history of the university and its surrounding community. Along with yearbooks and t-shirts, some items include a complete set of back issues of the CSULB student newspaper, the Daily Forty-Niner; minutes and official records of academic departments and campus governance organizations; and official papers of local political figures, such as Vincent Thomas and Mark Hannaford. Former California Gov. George Deukmejian chose the CSULB University Library as the repository for more than 3,000 boxes of historical documents chronicling his decades of public service.

Donations from around campus generally come when individuals retire, departments change management or other transitions create a surplus of documentation. And, though much of what they receive can be archived, some simply cannot. Then what?

“We are appreciative of everything we get, but the first thing we ask is, ‘If we don’t need this would you prefer that we return it to you or dispose of it?’” said Pascual. “That way we’re not discarding something that maybe we can’t use, but they still want for their own files.”