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Beltrami County History Center interim director excited about changes

Things are looking to change for the better at the Beltrami County History Center in downtown Bemidji. After closing for nearly a month while an interim director was being sought, the center has reopened with Nicole Foss working as the interim ex...

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Things are looking to change for the better at the Beltrami County History Center in downtown Bemidji.

After closing for nearly a month while an interim director was being sought, the center has reopened with Nicole Foss working as the interim executive director.

"I had been volunteering here for two years before this," Foss said.

With her new position and a background that includes a Master's Degree in anthropology, Foss is in a prime position to engage new plans.

"Firstly we're attempting to network with other local and non-local historical societies," Foss said.

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So far that venture has been successful as a traveling exhibit called "Uncle Sam's New Deal," put together by the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota Landmarks Center. This exhibit will be in Bemidji from Saturday, Aug. 13, to Sept. 25.

"It's about the Works Progress Administration," Foss said. "We'll have a chance to add a local component to it while it's here."

Along with collaboration, reorganization is high on the list of things to do at the center for Foss.

"We're working on creating a digital database of our materials in the research room," Foss said. "We have a lot of great information but no digital way of browsing it yet.

"We'd also like to put all of our manuscripts, artifacts and photographs on a computer in the research room for the public to use," Foss said.

Even with all of the advancements for the research room, Foss would like to see the public learn how to use it efficiently.

"We're hoping to create a workshop to show people how to properly use the research room as well," Foss said.

Getting children involved in history is also important to the interim director.

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"We want to have more outreach with schools by tying historical exhibits we have here in with their curriculum," Foss said, "That way they can come here and experience history firsthand."

Whereas Foss is the only paid employee, the historical center makes great use of its current six volunteers.

"We would always welcome more volunteers. They really do a lot and we've always got projects for them to be working on," Foss said.

With a small budget, volunteers are vital in the operation of the center and it takes the community's help to keep it open to the public.

"I welcome feedback from the community on what they'd like to see here," Foss said. "In the end, we're here for the community."

Hours

The Beltrami County Historical Center is open from noon-4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.

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