Libraries Launch New and Expanded Plastics Digital Collection

May 13, 2024, noon

screen shot of plastics digital collection website page
Plastics digital collection website page.

Syracuse University Libraries has launched its new online Plastics Collection comprised of digitized content from the Special Collections Research Center’s (SCRC’s) plastics collecting area. This new landing page for the collection reimagines the previous site, which formerly focused on the digital photography of more than 3,000 objects from the Plastics Artifacts Collection. The new Plastics Collection brings in additional archival content from other digitized collections, including the Antique Comb Collector’s Club Collection, the Edwin F. Bushman Collection, the Syracuse Ornamental Company (Syroco) Collection, and the forthcoming Plastics Media Collection, which will feature company and manufacturer product commercials and infomercials, footage of workers engaged in production, educational media about plastic materials and compositions, symposia and more.

“This new Plastics Collection space acts as a digitized meta-collection,” said Déirdre Joyce, Head of Digital Stewardship and the Digital Library. “It will allow us to feature and contextualize related, digitized materials and better represent the full scope of SCRC’s holdings in this area. We are excited to continue exploring new ways to add to and describe these resources and further share them with our students and researcher community for their creative use and reuse.”

In 2008, SCRC established its Plastics collecting focus, which aligned well with the Architecture and Industrial Design collecting area, when the National Plastics Center and Museum closed its operations and transferred thousands of books and artifacts and forty-three archival collections to SCRC. The Plastics Pioneers Association, along with Glenn and Patsy Beall and the Greenwald-Haupt Charitable Foundation, provided financial support to establish The Plastics Collection at Syracuse University and provide virtual access to the plastics artifacts collection and reference information about the plastics industry. Since then, SCRC has continued to grow the plastics collection area and further situate it within adjoining areas relevant to Syracuse University's curriculum, such as the history of science and technology, environmentalism, activism, fashion, art, labor studies and public health.

Of the new site, Courtney Hicks, SCRC Lead Curator and Curator of Plastics and Historical Artifacts said, “The opportunity for SU students, faculty and researchers worldwide to engage with the plastics collections' resources digitally is evidence of Syracuse University Libraries' commitment to providing access to its world-class holdings. As curator of the Plastics Collection, I hope to see this latest digital online resource have an even broader reach and impact on campus curriculum, while sparking further reflection, engagement and research with this distinctive collection.”

The redesigned online resource was produced and curated by the Libraries’ Digital Stewardship team, partnering with SCRC, as part of its new Digital Collections website. Users can browse the plastics collections by manufacturer, material type, process, subject or tradename.

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