There are many different kinds of libraries, ranging from school
and public libraries, to special research libraries at colleges
and universities, and including special collections at historical
societies, groups and institutes. In addition to books, libraries
collect copies of public records and archives of original material,
such as business or personal papers donated by local businesses
or residents. Sometimes they have photographic collections, too.
Through the inter-library loan system, libraries can often borrow
a book that a researcher needs from another library. These days,
they provide access to on-line research tools, thus widening their
reach even farther. Librarians, the special staff who work in libraries,
are often very knowledgeable about the material under their care.
They can also be a great help to the researcher.
Tirocchi researchers used a combination of all of these resources:
the Providence Public Library; college and university libraries
in the area; and libraries maintained by public agencies, museums,
historical societies, and religious organizations. We also used
collections in European libraries, such as the library in the Musée
Historique des Tissus [Museum of Textile History] in Lyon, France,
and in the Musée de la Mode et du Textile [Museum of Fashion
and Textiles] in Paris.
Researchers often use special books called bibliographies -- collections
of lists of other books, articles and resources about specific topics.
We consulted bibliographies on Italian immigration; women's history;
the history of fashion design and dressmaking; the history of consumption
and small business; social history, etc. These led to books and
articles, as well as scholarly dissertations about the subject.
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