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ACPL opens Rolland Center for Lincoln Research to public

The Allen County Public Library opens the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research to the public Monday.

The Lincoln Collection has resided at the Allen County Public Library for over a decade, kept in an area that wasn’t available to the public in order to protect it.

Now, the library has moved the collection into a public area made to be accessible and interactive.

Emily Rapoza is a senior Lincoln librarian with the ACPL. She said one of the goals when designing the collection was to make it as engaging as they could.

“We want people to see this, we don’t want to be a hidden gem anymore," Rapoza said. "We are here, we want to put Fort Wayne on the map as being a Lincoln site that you need to come and see.”

The collection inside of the Rolland Center at the main branch of the ACPL uses various technologies in tandem with physical items from the collection to make it engaging and user-friendly.

“So, we have created an immersive, interactive, explorative space for the Lincoln Collection,” Rapoza said.

Upon entering the space, visitors to the Rolland Center will see some artifacts such as photos and letters projected directly on the wall from scans of artifacts within the collection.

Throughout the exhibit, various touch screens and projectors allow visitors to see high quality scans of small items such as family photos, postcards and journals.

“Because most of our collection is very small, about the size of baseball cards, we are able to blow it up to be much more viewable throughout the space,” Rapoza said.

The Lincoln Collection began as a private collection which was once housed in a museum at Lincoln Financial. The current collection is split between the ACPL and the Indiana State Museum and Historical Sites (ISMHS) in Indianapolis.

The ACPL collection houses all of the 2-D artifacts, such as photos, letters and diaries, while ISMHS has 3-D artifacts such as sculptures, clothing and other personal items.

The technology within the Rolland Center allows the ACPL to show off high quality photos of the items kept at ISMHS as well.

Rapoza said there’s something for everyone within the space and hopes it allows more connections between people and the collection.

“I like to find the history nerds and the people that don’t know that they’re big into history yet and find something that they can relate to, especially if they didn’t think they would like Lincoln or like this," she said. "There’s something here for everybody.”

The Rolland Center opens to the public this morning. It's open Sunday 1 to 5 PM, Monday and Wednesday 9/10 AM to 5 PM, Tuesday and Thursday 9/10 AM to 8/9 PM, and Friday and Saturday 9/10 AM to 6 PM. Hours are subject to change due to COVID protocols.

Ella Abbott is a multimedia reporter for 89.1 WBOI. She is a strong believer in the ways audio storytelling can engage an audience and create a sensory experience.