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Some areas of the Main Library are now open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday and 12pm to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. These areas include main-floor access to Circulation as well as our study and computing space on 1 East with access to MSU printing. As of Feb. 1st, we opened 1 West. Our total capacity at this time is 120 people. We also now have touchless lockers, where you may pick up materials. Outside of safety, our top priority is to provide access to all of our collections. We continue to offer virtual services. We also are paging materials and will continue to mail materials to faculty, staff, and students living off-campus. We encourage you to use our convenient distance services. Please see our Online and Distance Learning resource page for more information.

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Test Your Understanding

Explore the online resources listed below. Some are primary sources, and some are secondary. Can you tell the difference?

"The Story Behind the Lacoste Crocodile Shirt," published in the Smithsonian Magazine's "Threaded" blog.

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"The Story Behind the Lacoste Crocodile Shirt"

This article is a secondary resource. It does include primary resources (photographs, quotations from people's memoirs) but the article itself uses these primary resources to tell a story: the historian's interpretation of the available facts and evidence.

A "bird's eye view" panoramic map of Grand Rapids in 1868; held at the Library of Congress.

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"Bird's eye view" panoramic map of Grand Rapids

This painting was created to show Grand Rapids as it existed at the time, in 1868. That makes it a primary resource.
What if the artist had intentionally exaggerated some of the features -- like making a building larger and more impressive than it really was. Would that make this painting an interpretation rather than first-hand evidence?

The Civil War diary of George Harrington, a member of the Sixth Michigan Cavalry; held at Western Michigan University.

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Civil War diary of George Harrington

This is a first-hand account of George Harrington's experiences as a soldier in the Sixth Michigan Cavalry -- clearly a primary source.

Photo of a Texaco gas station in Kalamazoo in 1958, from the John Todd Photographic Collection at Portage District Library.

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Photo of a Texaco gas station in Kalamazoo in 1958

Photos provide visual first-hand evidence of a certain time and place, so they are primary resources.

Advertisement for a picnic at Walled Lake Amusement Park, held by the Walled Lake City Library.

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Advertisement for Walled Lake Amusement Park picnic

This is an example of ephemera, printed materials that were never intended to be saved. Ephemeral items would almost always be considered primary sources.

1973 By-Laws of the Grand Mere Association, held by Lincoln Township Public Library.

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By-Laws of the Grand Mere Association

Internal records like this provide evidence about how a group was organized, how decisions were made, and who was in charge. This type of material would almost always be considered a primary resource.

Video documentary on the history of Hamtramck, Michigan, and its Polish community.

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Video documentary on the history of Hamtramck, Michigan

Video documentaries such as this one would almost always be considered secondary sources. This video does include many pieces of primary source material: photographs, interviews, excerpts from letters and diaries. However, all the primary resources have been selected by the filmmaker to communicate his vision of Hamtramck, his understanding of the town's history. The video as a whole is a secondary source.