Researching When Your Repository is Closed

by Allan Blank Curator of Music Special Collections Lara Canner

With massive closures occurring all over the country due to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), what happens if the repository you rely upon shuts its doors to researchers? Does scholarly work stop until archives, libraries, universities and museums re-open? Perhaps the answer to these questions is: simply changing tactics.

Have you tried contacting your local repository?

Many archives, Old Dominion University Special Collections included, have decided to virtually open their doors to patrons. We are providing distance research and available to answer questions via chat, or email. While, we are not allowed back on campus during this troubling time, we are very much here for our researchers.

Please contact Special Collections and University Archives with your archival inquiries by emailing:

We also have specialized librarians available for an array of subjects:

Have you tried online resources?

Archives, through the years, have seen a rise in virtual patrons. Those looking to access historical records via the internet, without the need to physically visit a repository. Old Dominion Special Collections and University Archives have over twenty digital collections with hundreds of records, just to fill this need. We are even digitizing more materials as I speak. Photographs, oral histories, specialized newspapers, music, video, and military collections can all be found by visiting:

Old Dominion University Libraries have an extensive collection of online journals available to our users. Ranging from Abstracts in Social Gerontology to the Wall Street Journal and a staggering number of subjects in between. However, you have only ever seen the reference book needed for your research at one repository, which happens to be closed…what now? Are you positive that book can only be found at one institution? WorldCat is a catalogue containing manuscript listing from all OCLC members (basically all, or most libraries). Chances are, this database can link you to another copy of the book you seek, even digital copies. Please visit our alphabetical list of databases here:

Wanting to connect researchers to Old Dominion University scholars resulted in the libraries creating ODU Digital Commons. An online space where researchers can download professional papers from Old Dominion University faculty and students. The Digital Commons boast over eleven thousand papers from over nine hundred disciplines:

Have you tried reaching out to others in your field?

Unsure what to do, or how to find sources now that most of us are confined to our homes? It may be time to network. Email, FaceTime, use social media, simply reach out to those whose work you are acquainted with, or admire for professional advice. Recently, I spoke with the director of an archive who I met briefly at a conference. She gave me advice on projects, study guides and professional development trainings to watch while teleworking. One recommendation she had, which might benefit the historical researchers out there was the American Historical Association’s Resources for Historical Researchers:

Have you tried preparing for when archives reopen?

To hit the ground running when research institutes do re-open, taking the time now to prepare can make all the difference. Creating detailed outlines, informational spreadsheets and compiling lists of collections to later view, will mean that your research will go much more smoothly.

 Speaking from personal experience, prepared researchers are always my favorites. These patrons email weeks prior to their visit (asking what times are the best to visit), they have organized lists of the collections that they want to view (saving everyone time) and know library polices (such as no food or drink…so sadly no Starbucks in Special Collections). This also gives the archivists time to prepare and provide the best service. To prepare for ODU Special Collections and University Archives re-opening, please visit our list of finding aids:

Have you tried relaxing?

The world is at a stand-still due to a devastating illness. The stress of confinement, employment and factors outside of one’s control. Perhaps, the answer is to take some time to read a novel, ride a bike (while social distancing, of course!), virtually watch a symphony and most importantly take care of yourself. Really, I have found that the best points in my papers have come after walks. Literally, stepping away from work has given me the clarity to write more persuasively.

While I’m very much looking forward to the moment my repository re-opens its doors, now is the time to take care of ourselves. Research can wait.

For the most up-to-date information concerning Old Dominion University Libraries response to the COVID-19 virus, please view the following link:

ODU Student Jordon Wanzer takes a closer look at a Monarch basketball legend

Courtesy of ODU Special Collections and University Archives

Old Dominion Men’s basketball continues to plan ahead and look forward for the future of the program.“DEFENDING OUR HOUSE” is written in bold on the cover of the 2007-2008 ODU Basketball media guide. Ten years ago, head coach Blaine Taylor and his staff brought in Kent Bazemore from Kelford North Carolina, averaging 18.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.2 steals per game as a senior at Bertie High School. He was also named Northeast North Carolina Coastal Conference Player of the Year. Having an astonishing high school career, Bazemore’s future ahead of him looked to be promising coming into a great college program here at ODU. The ability to bring intensity to the game and play both sides on the court showed that Bazemore was more than an average high school player.

Coach Blaine showed great interest in Bazemore’s performance. He had stated that his “physical toughness and continued strength improvement will allow him to reach his vast potential.” Being redshirted 2007-2008 season, Bazemore was able to get an extra year to improve his game on the court and transition smoothly to the collegiate level. As a sophomore he was moved into the starting lineup for the Monarchs. Bazemore played a great role for the men’s conference championship season. Known for being a high flyer and a lockdown defender, Kent was a force in the Colonial Athletic Association regular season. He was named to the CAA All-Defensive Team averaging 8.5 points, 3.4 assists and 4.2 rebounds.

Kent also contributed to another conference championship the following year. During his junior season the monarchs made the NCAA Tournament which ended with a two point  loss to Butler University. Butler finished runner up behind UCONN in the 2011 NCAA Championship match. Bazemore was named CAA Defensive Player of the year and the most outstanding men’s college basketball defender in NCAA Division I (Lefty Driesell Award). He now is currently a professional athlete for the Atlanta Hawks and averaged 11 points, 2.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game during the 2016-2017 NBA season. Old Dominion has retired the number 24 and introduced Kent Bazemore into the athletic ring of honor in 2016. Bazemore’s work ethic and college legacy will always be remembered here at Old Dominion.

Courtesy of ODU Special Collections & University Archives

Old Dominion basketball produces great talent and competitive athletes who are willing to put in extra hours at the gym in order to perfect their craft. As the next season approaches, I look forward to seeing the up-and-coming athletes here make history and add more archival material to special collections.

-Written by ODU Special Collections student assistant Jordon Wanzer

Who’s afraid of the dark?

Ever wonder what’s hiding in all those books and boxes that archivists keep locked away in the dark? Well, this is the blog for you! We’ll be sharing photos, documents, interesting historical facts, and funny (maybe even embarrassing) stories about researching and working in the ODU Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. Stay tuned!

Not actual depiction of ODU Libraries’ special collections department, but you get the idea.