History and Mission


     Various collections have been acquired by Montana State University Billings Library from the time it first opened known as Eastern Montana Normal School.   In 1930, Eastern Montana Normal School  purchased sixty-six ledger drawings forming the Barstow collection.  E. Dudley White donated his personal library to the school in honor of his wife Dora in the 1950s. In the 1970's, Dr. Robert Smith and Dr. Alan Clark (former professors of history at Eastern Montana College) collected and organized materials in the Special Collections. In the late 1990's the Center for the Northern Plains was created by Dr. Keith Edgerton, History Department, MSU Billings. The Center and the Library plan to work closely together to preserve the region's historical and cultural resources. In 2003, the library acquired the research library from a well-known Western writer, Terry C. Johnston.  Also in 2003, University Archives was organized into a working collection for students, faculty, and researchers to use.  Today, the Library has joined with the Parmly Billings Library and the Western Heritage Center in the development of a joint digitization project. 


 •         The Mission of Montana State University Billings Library Special Collections is to acquire, preserve, organize and make available the good works of the world as relevant to the curriculum and research mission of the campus.

•         Program Goals for Preservation: For library resources deemed to be of long-term value preservation can be defined as the actions needed to assure enduring access to the full content of those resources.


•         Our library policy states that priority for preservation shall be given to materials currently in demand in order to keep them usable and to materials that are rare or unique.


•         Selections of materials for preservation of high use shall be accomplished as a normal function of the circulation staff in coordination with the appropriate subject specialist.  Selection of rare or unique materials for preservation will be the responsibility of the subject specialist working with the Head of Collection management and the preservation staff.


Mission of Preservation Program at MSU Billings Library Special Collections

•         The mission of the preservation program at MSU Billings Library Special Collections is to assure long-term uninterrupted access to the intellectual content of the Library’s collections, either in original or reformatted form. The Library embraces its time-honored obligations of collecting, preserving, and providing access to collections not only for the MSU community, but also for the Billings public community at large.


•         Resources deemed to be of long-term value, preservation can be defined as the actions needed to assure enduring access for our students, faculty, staff and public to the full content of those resources over time.


•         Means of preservation may include: 1) acquisition of materials in archival formats 2), preservation of the original materials, and 3) replication of materials to other formats including into other archival formats.


•         Access/service


•         Capturing vanishing recorded history of MSU Billings campus and community


•         Develop and implement public programs (outreach services)


 The many collections fit within the Library's mission to provide information resources to students in support of the curriculum and  preserve access to historical materials. The Library does accept gifts which support the mission of the collection and can be reasonably maintained by the Library staff and resources. The Special Collections also provides workstudy, independent study, and internship opportunities for students in the Introduction to Public History and the Montana History courses. Students have the opportunity to work with historical materials in order to explore career opportunities in the area of museum studies, archives and librarianship. For more information about these history courses, please view Dr. Edgerton's website.

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Last Updated: May 2008