In 2008, labor history in the Pacific Northwest was facing a crisis. Collections were being thrown away or were decaying in basements, attics, sheds, and boiler rooms. Records creators needed a place to save their treasures from age, mildew, and insects. Even collections that were retained and stored in good conditions were inaccessible to scholars, remaining unstudied. Reduced in staff due to the recession, the University of Washington’s Special Collections library division was unable to accept new collections or process existing ones. Two thousand cubic feet of labor-related holdings existed in various states of preservation and description; many collections lacked online finding aids, and those with them often lacked detailed inventories. No online topical listing of labor collections existed, so remote or inexperienced researchers had to either visit in person or rely on remote reference queries to understand UW’s labor holdings. The labor community had no place to donate their...

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