The Faulkner Gallery at the Santa Barbara Central Library was the location of a very
successful and rewarding Thematic Learning Initiative special event titled Exploring
Treasures of Our Local Libraries and Archives featuring renowned writer, Brain Pickings
blogger, and curator of interestingness, Maria Popova on April 5, 2018. UCSB Arts &
Lectures partnered with the SB Central Library to highlight various public and private
collections and archives across Santa Barbara. Facilitated by the Community Relations
Librarian Jace Turner, the 140 community members in attendance learned about the
histories, missions and accessibility of local archives. The program included selected
slides from collections and a series of historic photographs by Edson Smith taken in
Santa Barbara between 1870-1940.
The event featured an engaging dialogue between Popova and Turner; 10-minute
illustrated presentations by four curators; followed by an opportunity for audience
members to ask questions of Maria Popova and the panelists. The presenters were:
David Seubert, the curator of the Performing Arts Collection at the UCSB Library, who
focused on digitization of early sound recordings and played an early cylinder; Rachel
Hatcher Day, associate archivist at SB Mission Archives-Library which contains historical
documents, photographs and artifacts from all of the California missions; and Norman
Cohen, Executive Director of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, highlighted the
extraordinary and eclectic collection of priceless historic letters, scripts, and ephemera
displayed and housed in this unique Santa Barbara museum.
The audience was extremely receptive to learn that these libraries and collections were
accessible to them, and appreciated receiving a printed list of library and archive
resources available in our community. Afterwards each of the panelists staffed an
information table in the lobby with additional materials about their archive. In addition
to the 3 local presenters there were additional resource tables with representatives and
from the following libraries: the Braille Institute Library; Ridley-Tree Cancer Resource
Library; Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society Sahyn Library; Santa Barbara
Historical Museum Gledhill Library; Santa Barbara Natural History Museum Collections;
the Santa Barbara Public Library; Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Presidio
Research Center and the Joseph Campbell and Marija Gimbutas Library and the OPUS
Archives and Research Center at the Pacifica Graduate Institute.
One of the highlights of the TLI event took place at the beginning when current and past
curators, archivists and librarians in the gallery were asked to stand and be recognized.
The appreciative applause from the attendees was extraordinary. All of the librarians
wore specially made ribbons declaring them “community treasures.” The event was
such a success that the Santa Barbara Central Library is considering offering a similar
program annually. In addition, outreach for both the Thematic Learning Initiative event
and the public event with Maria Popova in conversation with Pico Iyer was promoted to
all of the libraries in Santa Barbara.