Mining Online Catalogs!The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania,! September 10, 2011! Holly Mengel PACSCL/CLIR Hidden Collections Processing Project
PACSCLPhiladelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries• Cooperative group of special collections libraries with shared goals for their collections• Founded in 1985 with 16 member libraries • Today, PACSCL is composed of 35 member libraries – 4,000,000 rare books – 260,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archival material – 9,000,000 photographs, maps, architectural drawings, and works of art on paper – But, PACSCL itself, does not own collections www.pacscl.org
Backlog: Everyone has it. This is not a PACSCL problem or a Philadelphia problem.This is a national problem.
Backlog exists because: • Processing archival material is a time-intensive skill. • Archival repositories are, generally speaking, underfunded and understaffed. • Collections are acquired faster than they are processed.
Hidden Collections are …• Materials in a repository’s holdings that are – Un-arranged – Un-described – Under-described• Not physically or intellectually accessible to researchers or repository staff• Not advertised to researchers
So …If no one knows it exists ! or can use it, why keep it?
Efforts to Eliminate Backlog • Minimal processing: – Introduced as “More Product, Less Process” in 2005 by Greene & Meissner – Recommends 4 hours per linear foot (versus 8 to 15) – Less intensive processing: processors do not alphabetize material in folders, sometimes do not re-house material and describe collections only to the collection, series or folder level (NEVER item level).
Pros & Cons ! of Minimal Processing • Arguments against minimal processing: – The collection is not “ﬁnished” – It is not as easy for researchers to ﬁnd material – It is not as easy for reference staff to ﬁnd materials• Arguments for minimal processing: – The collection is available to researchers in signiﬁcantly less time than if traditionally processed. – Staff is able to identify the most “valuable” segments of the collections and further process them – Documented use of collections may result in grant funding for traditional processing
Efforts to Reveal ! Hidden CollectionsCouncil on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Initiative www.clir.org/hiddencollections/
PACSCL/CLIR Hidden Collections Processing Project• Follow up to the PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative Project (www.pacsclsurvey.org)• 27 month project• Process and make accessible to researchers approximately 120 currently “hidden collections” in PACSCL repositories (nearly 4,000 linear feet)
25 Participating Repositories• Academy of Natural Sciences• Bryn Mawr College• Chester County Historical Society• City of Philadelphia Department of Records• College of Physicians of Philadelphia• Drexel University Archives and Special Collections• Drexel University College of Medicine• Free Library of Philadelphia, Rare Books• German Society of Pennsylvania• Haverford College• Historical Society of Pennsylvania• Independence Seaport Museum• Library Company of Philadelphia• Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia• National Archives and Records Administration, Mid Atlantic Region• Pennsylvania Horticultural Society• Philadelphia Museum of Art• Presbyterian Historical Society• Rosenbach Museum and Library• Temple University Special Collections• Temple University Urban Archives• Union League of Philadelphia• University of Delaware• University of Pennsylvania• Wagner Free Institute of Science
Methodology • Minimal Processing (at 2 hours per linear foot)• Team processing by archival studies graduate students (trained via project “Bootcamp”)• The Archivists’ Toolkit computer program for creation of standardized ﬁnding aids.
The Finding Aid• Guide to a collection• Includes – Administrative information about the repository and donor – Biographical/historical note – Scope and content note – Related collections – Name & subject headings (authorized terms) – Inventory of contents
Example of an electronic ﬁnding aid …
Making Collections Available Project website: http://clir.pacscl.org• Blog• Collections by Topic
Family Histories and Genealogy
PACSCL Finding Aids Site ! http://ﬁndingaids.pacscl.org• Provide a single access point for all of the region’s research collections, and therefore, present insight into the country’s political, economic, social, religious and cultural experiences, as well as Philadelphia’s role in shaping America and its citizens• Developed by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries• Finding aids from all 25 repositories in one place• We are NOT digitizing collections
PACSCL Finding Aids ﬁndingaids.pacscl.org
The Searches• Cross-repository searching – Useful for ﬁnding related material in multiple repositories • Keyword searching – Useful for ﬁnding every instance of a name or topic • Faceted searching – Useful in ﬁnding collections with concentrated focus in a certain name or topic
Impact on Genealogists• We are not sure … – Are minimally processed collections sufﬁcient for detail-oriented genealogical research? – Do ﬁnding aids created at this speed provide the necessary description for research?• Your help … – If you use one of our collections, LET US KNOW! – Participate in a user study to be conducted in future!
Now available …– 125 collections (just over 4000 linear feet)– Part time student processors worked for 1 year and 11 months– At 8 hours per linear foot (traditional processing), this same linear footage would take a full-time archivist 15 years to complete.
Albert Cook Myers !(aka William Penn’s stalker) Albert Cook Myers collection of William Penn material, Chester County Historical Society
Biographies …Bradford collection of biographies of homeopathic physicians, Drexel University College of Medicine
In their mother’s words,Nicholson and Taylor family papers, Logan family papers, Haverford College Library Company of Philadelphia
in their own words,Diaries and letters, Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College
Through photographs and sketchesAlma A. Clarke papers, Rush family papers, Bryn Mawr College Library Company of Philadelphia Ministerium of Pennsylvania, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
via the military,John Dickinson papers, Library Company of Philadelphia
and by the landLogan family papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania
In sickness … Alma A. Clark papers, Bryn Mawr College Rush family papers, Library Company of Philadelphia Rush family papers, Library Company of Philadelphia
… in death … Elizabeth GrahamFergusson papers, Library Company of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia Memorial Park Philadelphia Memorial Park records, records, Chester County Chester County Historical Society Historical Society
… and in the heavens! Read family papers, Library Company of Philadelphia
Check us out! • Project website and blog: http://clir.pacscl.org • PACSCL Finding Aid Site: http://ﬁndingaids.pacscl.org • PACSCL website: http://pacscl.org• Contact us with input, suggestions, complaints, etc.!