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Urban Planning and American Religion: A Student Perspective on Library Book Collection

By Adam Schwartz

When I began working at the library this summer, I kind of had an idea of what I would be doing with my volunteer hours. Book collection was the name of the game, and collecting titles and keywords and topics is what I would be doing. I first began working with two of my history professors from past classes — Dr. Janet Bednarek, focusing on the history of aviation and urban planning, and Dr. Michael Carter, focusing on the early Atlantic world and religion in America. Going in, I had no idea of the ease — or difficulty — I would encounter in taking on this task. The first thing I did was interview my professors.

Dr. Bednarek wanted students in her History of Urban Planning course to explore the history and development of the area surrounding UD and the impact of the University as an anchor (an anchor being an institution that holds great social and economic influence over an area) and as a catalyst for growth.

Dr. Carter planned on using the history of early American religion as the topic for the HST 301 seminar on historiography writing.

It seemed like a simple, manageable task. I began researching topics and books using the keywords provided in each interview. I found that the University Libraries had a multitude of books on religion in America and early colonial history, but not much on the history of urban planning. So I expanded my search beyond the University, turning to OhioLINK, the statewide library consortium that shares materials among all its members. There, I found a multitude of multitudes on the history of religion in America, from French Huguenots to research on the early Great Awakening. On the side of urban planning in Ohio, focused on the Dayton area? Not so much. This subject would prove more difficult.

In the end I was able to procure nine different subjects for Dr. Carter to use for his seminar. For Dr. Bednarek, I had to go to more general topics, such as urban development of universities, and other such broad topics. In the end, I was able to procure only four books sufficient for Dr. Bednarek’s project.

Here are two worthy of note:

The Origins of American Religious Nationalism 

Model City Blues: Urban Space and Organized Resistance in New Haven

What I learned

Overall, this experience has shown me that library work is not to be taken lightly. Librarians work long and hard to make sure students at UD have the materials they need to have fulfilling and rich courses in their respective fields.

I would like to thank Heidi Gauder and Jillian Sandy for helping me learn library work. While I do not think that this will be my career, the volunteer work has been quite enlightening for me, and I am thankful for the opportunity to see what life beyond the stacks is like.

—   Adam Schwartz, a senior, is a library student employee in the Knowledge Hub. 

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