If you are interested in learning about and researching Albuquerque’s history, where should you go? The answer is the library and, more specifically, Special Collections Library at the corner of Edith and Central. This 1925 building at 423 Central NE was initially the city’s main library is historical itself. It was designed by Arthur Rossiter with interior decorations by Gustav Baumann. It’s one of the great gems of Albuquerque’s Pueblo Revival buildings that have been preserved. When the Main Library was built downtown in 1975, this building was rechristened the Special Collections branch and houses major research collections in New Mexico and Albuquerque history.
But, as beautiful and historical as the building may be, it can’t perform its function without librarians and staff. The process of research is greatly aided by knowledgeable staff and the Special Collections has many. They are there to help guide you through the over 36,000 items in books, vertical files, maps, periodicals, newspapers and more. Of course digital resources are now available. Currently staff and volunteers are adding Janet Kromer’s Shopping Notes to the previous digitization project of Albuquerque Progress. Special Collections is visited by over 1,200 people per month and the staff answer around 500 reference questions in the same period.
The Branch Manager of Special Collections is Kathy Seidel who took over in 2018 from Eileen O’Connell who was there from 2012. After 23 years in various library positions in Berlin, Germany and Baton Rouge, Louisiana Kathy came to Albuquerque last year. Our own AHS Board Secretary, Joe Sabatini, served in that role from 2000 to 2008. Kathy leads a small but excellent team of two full-time and one part-time staff members comprised of Teri Reynoso and Shana Morris as the library paraprofessionals who perform the bulk of research as well as Stacey Miller who works part-time behind the scenes to keep the collection organized and updated. Teri has 3 years at Special Collections and 5-1/2 years in the library system. Shana Morris has worked for 1 year with Special Collections and has 14 years experience in the library system. Stacey has 6 years with Special Collections and 11 years in the library system. If you’ve performed any historical research at Special Collections, you’ve undoubtedly met and been helped by any one of these fine folks.
It is for their knowledge and dedication in assisting history researchers that The Albuquerque Historical Society awards An Albuquerque History Accolade to the staff of the Albuquerque Special Collections Library.