Check It Out: Continuing the PPG Library Project

When we say library, we really mean it.

Organizing the PPG’s library space has been a long-term goal for our staff and volunteers. But we’re not just talking about the smattering of shelves and storage we have in the Tank Building. We’re talking about how we can make what’s on the shelves accessible to those interested in exploring our assets. We have nonfiction titles related to automotive history, automotive catalogs, and hard-bound newsletters and magazines. And we’d love to be able to share them with you.

Slowly but surely, we’ve been working towards making our print materials available for checkout. Interested in reading our books? Good news: you’ll be able to do so from the comfort of your own home, rather than having to stay in the library space to conduct your research. There are a few things to take care of before we reach that point, though. So while it might be awhile before you get your PPG library card, you can get excited about the prospect of reading one of our many titles!

Here’s the process in a nutshell:

  • Inventory

Before we start lending, we need to know what we have to lend – so an inventory of materials is our top priority. This portion of the project has been well underway for some time now, with a lengthy spreadsheet in current operation. That said, we need to make sure that our records are up-to-date, so our current labors are related to confirming our holdings and making sure things are in order. This includes making note of all relevant publication information (author, title, copyright year).

  • Cataloging

Following the inventory, we’ll develop a catalog. Cataloging our materials will allow us to have a record of all relevant aspects of the material in question, including its location. To do this, we’ll be using our collection management tool PastPerfect, which is the same program we use to keep track of our archival materials (like the Phil Hill collection). PastPerfect is recognized by museums, archives, and libraries alike as a repository for collection cataloging.

Admittedly, it doesn’t have the smooth, aesthetically-pleasing design of more modern interfaces. But its ability to catalog library collections, photographs, physical artifacts, and records simultaneously is second to none. This will come in handy for us as our collection management efforts expand. And hopefully, it will eventually enable us to share our holdings online as well.

Screenshot of an item record from the Phil Hill Collection. Library materials will be cataloged in a similar fashion. Not gorgeous, but very thorough!
  • Checkout

Once our items are cataloged and reshelved, they’ll be ready for your review! Stop by the library for some browsing, and take some materials home with you. PastPerfect can handle the checkout process. Item locations can to be updated right within their records, so we can keep all of the details about our titles all in one place. Keep in mind that we’ll have due dates just like any library, so be sure to bring your books back on time!

(That said, if you ask us very nicely, we just might let you renew them.)

Projects like this can be painstaking and lengthy, and there are still a lot of details to iron out with this one. This is a long-term goal of ours that may take a while to reach yet, but we want you to know that we’ll be working to make our holdings even more accessible to all you Packard fans out there. We appreciate your patience and support for this project, and thank you to the staff and volunteers who have given so much time to our library!

Interested in volunteering your time to work on a project like this?

If so, we’d love to hear from you! Help us preserve Packard’s history and make our content available off-site for Packard fans near and far. Click here to visit the PPG’s volunteer signup portal for more information.


  • Emily Benoit

    Lover of research and writing, libraries and archives. Graduate of Oakland University's MA of English Literature program; and Wayne State University's MLIS program with an additional certification in archival administration.