Willis Library 50th Anniversary: Special Libraries

Government Documents

The Government Documents department of UNT Libraries was established in 1948, as a US Federal and Texas State publications depository. When Willis Library was constructed, the Government Documents department was housed on its third floor. The documents represented in the Government Documents department represent about 70% of the documents produced by the Federal and state governments, and the department makes those materials available to the public. The types of documents include information related to health, economics, legal information, comics, posters, and government websites. In 2014, the Government Documents department moved out of Willis Library to the Eagle Commons Library in Sycamore Hall.

Music Library

UNT’s Music Library has a long history of being a wonderful resource for the College of Music students, with resources including monographs, reference works, periodicals, printed music and sound recording formats, as well as subscriptions to electronic databases for research and streaming music. The Music library also has Music Special Collections, which features archival collections from notable musicians, music organizations, and alumni, as well as rare recorded sound formats, and audio players like wax cylinders and a player piano.

Special Collections

The current Special Collections department is the combination of two previous departments, the Rare Books and Archives departments. The University Archives was established in 1975 as a Bicentennial project, to collect and preserve materials related to UNT deemed to have enduring value. The Rare Books department was established in 1981, with a collection consisting of books and other rare or unique items that were already in the collection of the UNT Libraries, including maps, original artworks, artifacts, photographs, materials collected as part of the Historical Collection museum on campus, and much more. Each of these departments had their own offices on the fourth floor of Willis Library, until they were merged into the Archives and Rare Books department in 2007, which was eventually renamed Special Collections.

Digital Libraries

UNT Libraries entered the world of Digital Libraries in 2004 with the launch of The Portal to Texas History, a digital repository for institutions across Texas. In 2005 the UNT Digital Library was launched, which hosts digital materials such as theses and research materials, as well digital materials from various UNT departments. The Digital Libraries department is housed on the third floor of Willis Library, where they have department members build and maintain the digital repository sites, as well as a digital projects lab, where materials from partner institutions are scanned or photographed, and metadata is applied to those materials to make them searchable. These digital libraries provide access to over 3.5 million items, comprising nearly 74 million digital files.

In 2012 UNT Libraries launched The Gateway to Oklahoma History in partnership with the Oklahoma Historical Society.

The Spark

The Spark, originally called The Factory, was opened on the first floor of Willis Library in 2014. UNT was one of the first universities in Texas with a makerspace, allowing the UNT community access to technological tools and equipment for hands-on learning. The Spark was originally located in a small space behind the Forum, but with the 2020 renovation of the first floor, The Spark has been expanded to an open layout along the north-east corner of the first floor. The Spark has offered use of 3-D printers, camera equipment, sewing machines, and much more since opening, and has added new tools and equipment in accordance with patrons’ needs. The Spark team also offers training sessions and assistance in using the equipment, as well as workshops to learn basic robotics and video game design.

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