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Harvard College Library

Collection Management

Collection Management


Units across HCL focused much attention on cataloging and providing access to special collections in FY 2010.

  • Cabot Science Library continued its retrospective cataloging and conservation of monographs in special collections from the former Kummel Library. About 75% of the collections have been reclassified to the Library of Congress system.

  • The Fine Arts Library continued to make significant progress in providing access to its image collections. Student assistants have created inventory lists of several major print collections and have made progress on an inventory of the photograph boxes stored on site, barcoding them in preparation for the implementation of Aeon in January 2011. Weissman Preservation Center staff continue to devote two days a week to cataloging both entire collections and individual images which have been requested by patrons. FAL is also populating VIA with sample images from many of our collections in order to enhance discovery. Staff members have been selecting and cataloging images from the Josephine Powell Collection for a scanning project to be completed utilizing gift funds. This collection includes images documenting the architecture, art, culture, and ethnology of countries in the Middle East and North Africa; Central, South, and Southeast Asia; and Italy, Greece, and the Balkans.

  • Harvard-Yenching Library staff cataloged and processed the 16,000 microfilm reels in the Meiji Microfilm Collection and sent the microfilms to the Harvard Depository for storage. Thanks to the digitization efforts by the National Diet Library in Tokyo, most of the titles in the Meiji Microfilm Collection are now accessible online.

  • In Houghton, a sustained focus will continue through FY 2011 on the Harvard Theatre Collection's "arranged series," which have no cataloging or inventory control and are physically arranged in various ways by format, topic, subtopic, title, author, etc. While there is a very long way to go, MARC records are in the process of being created for older material and a new approach for future accessions was devised to provide timely electronic access for patrons. Additionally, a pilot project to digitize and catalog HTC photographs, starting with the minstrel images, is in the beginning stages. The goal is to do fast cataloging and digitizing of a large volume of material.

  • Among the special collections cataloged by HCL Technical Services were: a collection of over 600 Bohdan and Neonila Krawciw Ucrainica maps dating from the 1550s to the 1940s, a large order of films in support of a new course in Nordic cinema taught by Ursula Lindqvist in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, the Ingalls Sanskrit collection, the Dhume Marathi pamphlets relating to the history of Goan Hindu temples, the Gujarati literature sound recordings, Tibetan texts (on CD-ROMs) of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center, Burmese Islamic collection of CDs and audio cassettes, and filmed interviews of the Kenyan oral history project (on the Mau Mau emergency in Kenya).

  • Loeb Music staff focused its cataloging efforts on rare and unusual commercial material, as well as on unique items. The Library is current with receipts for the Rubén Blades archives and the Brian Q. Silver Collection of Indian Music, and it has produced collection-level descriptions of new collections of Pakistani music, Stephen Mosko's collection of mid-20th-century musical premieres, Eduard Alekseyev's collection of music of the circumpolar Yakut people, and Jayasinhji Jhala's collection of Indian music from the Dhrangadhra court. Staff have developed protocols for cataloging born-digital objects, both text and audio, and including multichannel audio performances. Loeb Music has also cataloged its collection of Gilbert Rouget's recordings from Africa in the early 20th century, as well as an array of challenging printed scores including rare 18th-century editions of piano music by Dussek, Hummel, Cramer and Mozart.

  • Forty-four items in Tozzer Library's special collections, primarily photographic materials, were examined and researched by Weissman Preservation Center (WPC) staff, and their HOLLIS records greatly enhanced with additional scope and content notes and access points. Because most of these historical items were accessioned into the Peabody Museum Library well before present-day cataloging standards existed, their original records only rarely identified them as being primarily photographic. Access points were limited and sometimes incorrect. With this assistance by WPC staff, Tozzer has made significant progress in uncovering its photography holdings, which, though modest in size, are historic and unique in many cases.

  • Widener's Judaica Division was able to increase substantially the cataloging of ephemeral pamphlets and leaflets begun the previous year. Some 3,000 ephemeral pamphlets and serials in Hebrew, Yiddish, English, and other languages were sent to Judaica's vendor in Israel for cataloging. Materials cataloged included both current and retrospective materials, such as Israeli theater programs, religious brochures, and a variety of other pamphlets and leaflets from Israel and the Diaspora communities. This enabled the division to continue to provide full cataloging access to these very ephemeral and elusive primary source materials that are almost never collected—let alone cataloged—by libraries. It also has eliminated an accumulation of such items from past years, when it was not possible to catalog them. In addition, the Judaica Division processed in-house over 11,000 pieces of ephemera—chiefly single-sheet broadsides, flyers, brochures, and mailers from Israel and the Diaspora. The following collections were processed: approximately 7,000 pieces of English-language ephemera produced by Jewish community organizations in the US, 1,400 items of ephemera from the Jewish communities of Russia and Ukraine and 700 items of Russian-language ephemera from Israel, approximately 250 items of ephemera from the Jewish community of Poland, and some 2,000 items of Israeli commercial advertising ephemera. In addition, two gift collections were processed. The first, a collection of some 1,700 Haggadot (Passover rituals) was searched, with 447 cataloged and added to the Harvard Judaica Collection.

Units in HCL Technical Services (HCLTS) initiated two pilot projects to experiment with new vendor services. The Spanish/Portuguese Division worked with one of its largest Latin American vendors, Garcia Cambeiro, to obtain fuller MARC records at the point of receipt and to implement EDI invoices in order to expedite the processing of materials from Argentina. The pilot project holds promise and is a singular example of bolder partnering with a vendor from a region of the world where acquisitions activities have historically been a largely manual process and technological enhancements have been slower to take hold. The Lamont unit of Cataloging Support Services initiated a pilot project with their primary vendor, YBP Library Services, to begin receiving shelf-ready materials in the winter of 2010. With extensive involvement from HCL Conservation Services, the specifications for the vendor's spine label services were improved and updated so that thermal-transfer printed labels would be supplied to Lamont. These service improvements were part of the longer-term goal to implement shelf-ready services for Widener's YBP workflows, a goal that was realized in conjunction with the departmental reorganization in May 2010.

Over the course of FY 2010, planning progressed for the implementation of Aeon, a special collections circulation and request management system that will allow patrons to register and place requests for materials online directly from the HOLLIS record or from a personal account page. This system will replace paper registration and request forms and, when implemented HCL-wide, will eliminate the need for patrons to register separately for use of each special collection. Through Aeon, the Library will have a higher level of knowledge and control of collections, as well access to statistics and usage data that will help inform decisions on future collection management and digitization and conservation efforts. Houghton Library will be the first unit to implement Aeon, which will replace its customized patron database developed by HCL Information Technology Services years earlier. The Harvard Map Collection and the Fine Arts Library will be the next to implement the Aeon system. Loeb Music, Harvard-Yenching, Tozzer and Cabot libraries will eventually follow.