Processing Special Collections Blurring Boundaries, Backlogs and Intra-Institutional Cooperation, or What Do We Do with All This Stuff?
Breaking the Silence of the LAMs LAMs = Libraries, Archives & Museums 2000s was the decade of calling for CONVERGENCE We are all cultural heritage organizations Users make no distinction / don’t understand differences between us Whole conferences devoted to this!
What Libraries & Archives Share Backlogs! ARL Special Collections Task Force (2001-2006) charged with enhancing access to and “surfacing hidden collections” 2005: Greene & Meissner, “More Product, Less Process” is published in American Archivist Collection-level cataloging & minimal processing seen as the solution
Does Minimal Processing Work? 2010 OCLC Research Report: Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives says…
“While many backlogs have decreased, almost as many continue to grow” “Use of all types of material has increased across the board” “75% of general library budgets have been reduced”
One Institution’s Story Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU 6 full-time staff: 1 head 1 librarian 1 collections associate 2 archivists 1 curator (archivist) many project archivists & students
The Collection Documents the history of radical politics: Socialism Communism Anarchism Utopian experiments The cultural left The New left The struggle for civil rights & civil liberties
Official repository for the NYC Central Labor Council’s member unions
My Tasks Tamiment Newspaper Collection 1,500 newspapers 15% cataloged
Cataloging or Archival Arrangement? Library catalog aims to be a reference source in itself Finding aids establish context, leave the “Aha!” moment to researchers What to choose for materials with blurred boundaries?
Tamiment is creating artificial collections of “Printed Ephemera” for organizations, individuals, topics
Why Bother Cataloging Underground Newspapers? Problem of archival arrangement Serials cataloging establishes relationships between serials using MARC linking fields (76x-78x), “absorbed by,” “continues,” etc. Finding aids only establish context No subject access