Austen Fox Riggs Library Expands Collection and Broadens Resource Availability
by Aaron Beatty
Chestnut Lodge Library Acquisition - Recently, the Riggs library was gifted the contents of the former Chestnut Lodge Library. Chestnut Lodge was a psychiatric hospital providing long-term psychoanalytically oriented treatment in Maryland. After Chestnut Lodge closed its doors in 2001, the library’s contents made their way to psychoanalysts Ann-Louise S. Silver, MD and Stuart B. Silver, MD, (both former Chestnut Lodge clinicians) who then kept the collection of 180 boxes safe in their possession for nearly 10 years. When they contacted Riggs about donating the collection, Riggs enthusiastically accepted the offer. Librarian/Archivist, Gregory D. Farr, MLIS, CA, noted the historic and scholarly value of the collection, calling it “a great contribution that will undoubtedly enrich the library’s current collection and offer a glimpse into the kind of scholarship that is important in a longer-term psychiatric hospital setting.” Mr. Farr noted that he and others are currently conducting an inventory of the collection and hope to soon make it available for library patrons.
Coming Soon - An Online Cataloging System - Now in beta testing, Mr. Farr has developed a preliminary searchable, online catalog for the collection of the Riggs library. Resources held by the library will soon be more easily and readily searchable by a wider audience. Having the catalog online will allow Mr. Farr to run reports and track data related to the collection to gain insight about user behavior and resource utilization. Separately, Mr. Farr is exploring the creation of an online archive of older Riggs historical documents.
Work Program - Patients involved in the Work Program at Riggs have the opportunity to apply for positions across the Riggs campus. Mr. Farr felt it was important to involve patients in the library and created Work Program positions in which patients assist in the acquisition, inventory, processing and organization of materials for the library. Mr. Farr stressed the importance of having a collaborative working exchange with Work Program participants and involving them in thinking logistically, strategically and creatively about the work. Recently, Work Program participants have assisted in the inventory of the David Rapaport Memorial library materials, the acquisition, inventory and processing of donated texts and manuscripts from the family of Dr. Martin Cooperman, and the re-organization of journals in library.
The library’s unique collection is available for use by Riggs staff and mental health professionals. For more information, please contact Gregory Farr, at  931-5259 or email@example.com.