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Libraries Embark on Mission to Increase Access to Special Collections

Researchers at Columbia and around the world will gain access to some of the most significant and currently least accessible of Columbia University Libraries' special collections, thanks to support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

A grant of $355,000 from the foundation will support an ambitious processing initiative to catalog a selection of special collections from the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the C.V. Starr East Asian Library.

"This project is designed to expand awareness and use of some of our richest special collections," noted James Neal, vice president for Information Services and University Librarian. " Columbia is very appreciative of this outstanding support."

This new initiative builds on the discoveries of the Mellon-funded Survey of Special Collections Materials project, completed in August 2004. A key goal of that project was to develop an accurate understanding of the condition and future preservation, processing and access needs of Columbia's unique unprocessed and under-processed collections. Based on the survey, 11 collections were identified as having the greatest intellectual value as well as the most urgent processing needs.

Some of the archives that will be processed include the records of the architects of New York's Grand Central Terminal (Warren and Wetmore); the papers of the of Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League, a group that investigated corporations and persons associated with Germany in the 1930s to expose relationships with the Nazis and encourage campaigns to boycott them; and the Donald Keene Japanese Literary Correspondence Collection, a collection of letters written by postwar Japanese authors, including Japan's two Nobel Laureates in literature, to Donald Keene, the Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and University Professor Emeritus at Columbia.

The collections will be processed to facilitate researcher access, materials will be rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes for long-term preservation, and at-risk materials will be identified. Machine-readable catalog (MARC) records will be created for all collections, and they will be entered into Columbia's online public access catalog and the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN) database. Finding aids will be created for all collections and will be made available locally as well as online.

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Published: Feb 04, 2005
Last modified: Feb 04, 2005

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