With summer temperatures in Las Vegas averaging over 100 degrees, swimming pools are integral to the history of the city as much as neon lights and showgirls. So for this past month, Su Kim Chung, the head of public services at the University of Nevada Las Vegas Libraries Special Collections, took this as an opportunity to showcase some of the collection’s best pools on their Instagram account.“Let’s face it, July is a hot month, and swimming pools seemed a way to evoke virtual refreshment in the face of heat and humidity,” Chung explains over email.
Along with her assistant, Nancy Hardy, one of Chung’s key roles is outreach. The UNLV Special Collections Instagram account is full of Vegas curiosities, from 1960s pulp fiction to trains in the desert. “Each post is designed to highlight a different aspect of our collections—oral histories, manuscripts, rare books, periodicals, a specific collecting area or one of our digital collections,” she notes.
June was the hottest one on record here in Las Vegas, so we are diving into another Instagram challenge to help us cool off–at least mentally: #librarypoolparty! Make a splash with us and share photos from your archives–swimming pools, swimming holes, deep puddles… Let your imagination swim freely! Everyone’s invited to post wet and wonderful pool pics each Wednesday in July! Thanks to our up-for-anything IG friends for the encouragement–you know who you are! This photo-invite features an Olympics-worthy swan dive at the Royal Nevada’s pool in Las Vegas, ca. 1950s. (PH: 0043-0183) #swimmingpool #librariesofinstagram #poolparty #vintagevegas #1950s
It’s also part of the group of libraries and archives that together form the hashtag #librariesofinstagram, who support and challenge each other to post images around a theme. “Recent challenges have included #hatsinthelibrary, #libraryfeast, #bicyclesinthelibrary and #trainsinthelibrary. As the group was discussing potential July challenges, I suggested swimming pools because we have so many unique images of hotel swimming pools created to promote Las Vegas hotels/casinos.”
Much of the photographic materials are donated. “We spend a lot of time working in the community making individuals, groups, organizations, and businesses aware of our mission to document Las Vegas, Southern Nevada, and gaming,” says Chung. “For instance, right now we are in the middle of a collecting initiative focusing on builders and developers in Las Vegas and we’re gathering both manuscript materials and oral histories. Other recent initiatives have focused on the African-American and Jewish communities in Las Vegas.”
It’s Vegas, baby! Welcome to the #librarypoolparty and the floating craps and blackjack tables IN the Sands Hotel’s swimming pool, ca. 1954. Check out the poolside slots, too! In Las Vegas, we’ve ALWAYS known how to throw a #poolparty! Feel free to take the plunge and contribute your pool-themed images with the hashtag #librarypoolparty every Wednesday in July. This photo comes from our Sands Hotel Collection, PH: 0287-0178. #swimmingpool #swimming #blackjack #craps #vintagevegas #oldvegas #slotmachine #cardgames #librariesofinstagram #1954 #nevadahistory
As befits the city known as the “entertainment capital of the world”, several collections are devoted to the razzle-dazzle of Las Vegas nightlife and form some of Chung’s favorites. “The papers of show producers, individual performers, hotel entertainment departments, entertainment magazines, collections of show programs, oral histories of dancers and showgirls - all of these are part of our rich entertainment history legacy.”
When it comes to sharing their images, Chung and Hardy work together to highlight Vegas histories or celebrations, and collaborate with their #librariesofinstagram group. “We were recently honored to be a part of the “#libraryloveisloveislove,” a challenge which honored Pride Month by highlighting publishers bindings in our collections that matched the rainbow flag. Nancy is very talented at finding whimsical items to post that showcase lesser-known areas of our collections.”
Of the swimming pool prompt— found via #librarypoolparty, a hashtag created by fellow library instagrammer Rutgers University Special Collecions – Chung says it was successful. This month challenge looks like it will be related to books – but for now, dive into this selection of vintage Vegas pools from the deep archives of UNLV Special Collections.
You can follow the UNLV Libraries Special Collections on instagram @unlvspeccoll