Michael Lear joined the State Library of Pennsylvania on September 16th as the new Rare Collections Librarian. Previous to joining the State Library, Michael worked as Research and Collections Management Specialist at Franklin and Marshall College Library’s Archives and Special Collections and as an animal caretaker and farm interpreter at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Landis Valley Museum. His responsibilities at Franklin and Marshall included assisting researchers, creating exhibits, presenting special collections materials to College classes, planning and managing digitization projects, cataloging, and preserving collections of rare books, maps, prints, posters, manuscripts, and institutional records. A life-long student of history, Michael enjoys visiting museums, historical sites and state parks, watching documentaries, woodworking, gardening, and participating in living history events.
Michael holds a master’s degree in library science from Clarion University of PA and an MA in history and museum studies from University of Delaware. His bachelor’s degree from Penn State University was in art history, with coursework in history and American studies. He is also a Certified Archivist and member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, Society of American Archivists, American Library Association, Pennsylvania Library Association, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference.
In his new role, Michael plans to encourage the use of collections by researchers, scholars, bibliographers, and student groups by promoting the value of primary sources in research and rare collections as cultural heritage artifacts that tell a story larger than the textual information they contain. He also plans to diversify collections by collecting materials relating to state-level, non-governmental organizations and under-represented groups and subjects important to Pennsylvania history. Michael also hopes to serve as a resource to small public libraries seeking advice on preserving local historical collections.
For questions on rare collections held at the State Library, please contact Michael at email@example.com