<$BlogRSDUrl$> Marcus P. Zillman, M.S., A.M.H.A. Author/Speaker/Consultant
Marcus P. Zillman, M.S., A.M.H.A. Author/Speaker/Consultant
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Friday, October 24, 2003  

Hidden Collections, Scholarly Barriers

A study commissioned by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has been looking at ways libraries can bring hidden collections of rare books, manuscripts and archival materials to light, thereby enabling patrons to find and use them. The problem exists because libraries are simply unable to keep up with the backlog of materials awaiting processing -- especially when those materials are in a non-traditional format -- and so they often languish uncataloged in boxes and storerooms. Finding a method to catalog these items in a meaningful way -- yet one that minimizes time and resources -- is a significant challenge. Researchers suggest that one answer lies in the use of flexible, case-specific cataloging. While still working within national cataloging standards, libraries can choose to catalog collections, rather than individual items. Particular resources within the collection can be added later as sub-listings. Another option is for libraries to share the burden of cataloging. If one library does individual cataloging on a collection, that record could be shared by libraries worldwide. The report cautions, "The cost to scholarship and society of having so much of our cultural record sitting on shelves, inaccessible to the public, represents an urgent need of the highest order to be addressed by ARL and other libraries." (Hidden Collections, Scholarly Barriers: Creating Access to Unprocessed Special Collections Materials in North America's Research Libraries 6 Jun 03)

posted by Marcus Zillman | 7:58 AM
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