ILL Committee Liaison Report--Center for Research Libraries

Center for Research Libraries Report
to Chief Collection Development Officers of Large Research Libraries
ALA Midwinter Meeting, 2002

1. Collections Assessment Task Force

Chaired by Ross Atkinson of Cornell University the Collection Assessment Task Force was formed to determine the relative importance of the many collections held by CRL, to assess their relative accessibility, and to suggest strategies through which CRL can make those collections more usable by scholars. The work of the Task Force was funded by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon and Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. The Task Force report was issued in mid-November and was published in the December 2001/January 2002 issue of FOCUS.

Some key conclusions and recommendations of the Task Force and the Center's responses:

  • Foreign newspapers, microform sets, and foreign dissertations are the most important and heavily used of CRL collections. The small percentage of the foreign dissertations that are cataloged makes these of less use to scholars.
The Task Force recommended that the Center catalog the foreign dissertations collections, creating brief records with keywords and adding the records to OCLC. The Center is focusing on developing the workflow to make such a project feasible, cataloging the incoming stream of dissertations and dissertations on special topics in the retrospective collection (e.g. dissertations on Islam highlighted in CRLONLINE), and seeking funding for a major support to catalog the retrospective collection.
The Center is preparing a list of all microform sets it owns along with tools available to access those sets.
  • Access to some uncataloged CRL collections could be improved by making collection descriptions and lists available on the Web, in a format effectively discoverable through Web search engines.

U.S. College Catalogs Holdings have been added to the CRL Web site, and a collection level record has been created. Foreign Bank Publications List has been added to CRL Web site, and collection level records by country are being created. In process: List of textbooks held by Center

  • CRL should re-evaluate its collecting policies, to insure that its holdings best fulfill its member needs. There is good evidence that member needs have shifted significantly in the last decade and CRL acquisition strategies need to reflect those new needs.

The Center is working with the Collections and Services Advisory Panel, chaired by Edward Shreeves, to structure and prioritize reviews in the areas recommended by the Task Force.

2. Strategic Planning

Over the November 4 weekend, the Center for Research Libraries Board of Directors held a two-day strategic planning retreat. At the retreat the Board began charting a clear course for the Center in meeting the challenges posed by new and changing conditions in the world of research and scholarship. Among the retreat participants, strong consensus emerged around some major new directions for CRL. Specifically, the Center will:

  • Strengthen its partnership with the research community by providing better means of access to core CRL collections, and by making CRL a more responsive and transparent organization.
  • Aggressively support the development and preservation of research collections, both print and digital, on a collaborative basis, favoring a coordinating and brokering role for CRL, over that of a stand-alone library.
  • Better engage the academic community in CRL collecting decisions, improving the alignment of CRL and member library collection development with user needs and interests.

CRL Board members and staff are working on developing a strategic plan, complete with actions and initiatives that support this new agenda. The plan will be submitted for Board approval in March, and presented at the CRL Council meeting on April 19.

3. Area Studies Cataloging and Imaging Projects

CRL has served as the "home base" for a number of geographical area studies projects, providing support and the assurance of continuity for resources developed cooperatively by universities and libraries. Having a common base for these projects creates synergies and economies of scale that will promote the long-term stability of project-based resources.

The Cooperative Africana Microform Project (CAMP) acquired some important new microform sets this year, including the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society Archives and African newspapers from Northwestern University filmed as part of their Committee on Institutional Cooperation-NEH preservation grant. CAMP has often reported on its cooperation with Title VI institutions in the joint project to film colonial records at the National Archives of Senegal. This project will continue in a second phase of cooperative work, to preserve records of the "Affaires politiques et administratives du Senegal, Serie D." These materials will be filmed as part of a larger effort for which CAMP will seek outside support for continued preservation in archives throughout Africa.

The Latin American Microform Project (LAMP) completed preservation filming of mining records from Tupiza, Bolivia, and court documents from Brazil's Military Supreme Court documenting human rights violations by the military government in Brazil from 1964-1979. LAMP also initiated some large-scale projects in Argentina to film significant portions of The Standard, the most important English-language newspaper in Buenos Aires, and public opinion polls from the Archivo Miguens. Under LAMP's long-standing cooperation with the Library of Congress to film ministerial reports from Latin America, these memorias are being cataloged by CRL staff according to CONSER standards.

The Middle East Microform Project (MEMP) continues its own long collaboration with the Library of Congress to film important Arabic pamphlets and serials from LC's collection. MEMP is also cooperatively cataloging its backlog of titles to enable access to many useful serials and monographs from Algeria, Lebanon, and Sudan. The group is currently examining strategic directions and collection priorities for the future to provide better services for its members.

The South Asia Microform Project (SAMP) successfully carried out its first field project using its portable camera to film Bengali manuscripts collected by the eminent scholar Sukumar Sen. The result has been to preserve more than 900 critical manuscripts that are considered to be the core of the vernacular Bengali literary canon. SAMP and DSAL are also collaborating with institutions on the subcontinent to acquire, film, and digitize vernacular newspapers from India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

The Southeast Asia Microform Project (SEAM) continues to film a large collection of Southeast Asia newspapers held at Cornell University. SEAM has also received a large collection of Javanese language material from Surakarta, Central Java, to round out its mammoth collection of historic manuscripts from Indonesia. Other important initiatives include cooperation with the Yale University and the Documentation Center of Cambodia to film the Santebal Archives of secret files of the Khmer Rouge. This collaboration will also preserve biographies, dossiers, and files relating to genocide in Cambodia in the 1970's.

The nascent Slavic and East European Microform Project (SEEMP) collection continues to grow, as projects developed since 1996 come to fruition. Current material includes recent newspapers from Bosnia, Croatia, and Yugoslavia, and various regions of Russia. New items available to SEEMP and CRL members include a collection of extremist newspapers that document the changing nature of Russian politics and opinion from 1990-1998, with additional titles and years planned. Other new receipts include 300+ rare monographs in the Yakut, Kumyk, and Chuvash languages of the former Soviet Union, which will be fully cataloged in CRL's OPAC. A complete list of projects is available on the SEEMP Web site.

In addition to their regular operations, many AMP projects continue to support and facilitate special grant projects. Among these are:

CRL / LAMP Brazilian Government Document Digitization Project -
This landmark project has finally reached its terminus, as all 2,800 reports in the collection have been indexed and made available over the Web, resulting in more than 675,000 page images. The project has also dramatically increased the speed of access by upgrading to 73GB hard drives rather than the now outmoded jukebox technology. A final report will be issued on CRL's Web site in January.

Cooperative African Newspapers Project: African Newspapers Union List -
This project, managed by CAMP and the Africana Librarians Council and sponsored by the AAU/ARL Global Resources Project, seeks to provide enhanced bibliographic information on African newspapers held in the U.S. and abroad. A searchable union list database for the African Newspapers Union List (AFRINUL) has been created, and the project is currently developing an on-line administrative tool to input additional records.

The SEAM/Luce Microfilming and Preservation Project in Vietnam - Sponsored by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Harvard Yenching Institute, SEAM/Vietnam has been working with the National Library in Hanoi to preserve important material (in French and Vietnamese) from dynastic and colonial periods of Vietnam. To date, SEAM has received over 200 reels of film, representing a number of early and publications journals not held elsewhere in the world.

The Center for Research Libraries is a partner in several of the ARL Global Resources Projects: the Digital South Asia Library, the Cooperative African Newspapers Project, the Japan Journal Access Project, and the Latin Americanist Research Resources Project.

The NEH-funded International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON) is a program, based at CRL, to preserve foreign language newspapers by microfilming and providing comprehensive Web-accessible information on holdings. The current two-year initial phase of ICON is intended to lay the groundwork for coordinated access to and preservation of non-U.S. newspapers.

This year the prototype database for the ICON holdings and preservation information was developed and populated with holdings information by ICON partners including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Washington. The ICON Web site has been mounted and now contains information about the project and links to information on newspaper preservation and databases. Plans call for an ICON Web site, which will have a link to the ICON database, to be added to CRL's Web site.

In addition, microfilming of the third title, Kaiser-I-Hind, was completed and the fourth title, Shanghai Times was begun. Founded in 1882 in Bombay, India, Kaiser-I-Hind was the voice of the fledgling Indian National Congress and the Parsi community in the 19th and 20th century. Arrangements are now being made to film ten additional titles, and CRL has submitted a grant proposal for the next phase of the project to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

4. Cataloging

During the past fiscal year the Center cataloged over 9,600 monographs and serials into OCLC and its online catalog. Of these, 2,688 were new bibliographic records (i.e., original cataloging). Some of the materials cataloged were: post-World War II European newspapers (100+titles), Memoria from the Dominican Republic microfilm set, Indian serial titles (137) from the Foreign Documents collection, and the backlog of Japanese language materials. This reflects the Center's emphasis on adding unique or rarely held materials to the national database.

CRL is exploring ways to build subject- or discipline-based pathways into its collections in general, which will make them more accessible to scholars and other researchers. In this spirit, the Center recently disseminated via its CRL-Online mailing list, an e-letter on primary sources on Afghanistan.

The Center recently appointed Amy Wood as the Head of Technical Services. Amy will be responsible for coordinating and managing the cataloging operations at the Center.

5. Historians' Conference

CRL and the University of Chicago's College of Arts and Sciences, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will convene a two-day invitational conference March 8-9, 2002. The conference will bring together at the Center 30 historians from North American colleges and universities to explore ways to increase awareness and promote use of the Center's holdings among historians.

6. Aberdeen Woods Conference

The Center is sponsoring the second triennial conference on the cooperative development of scholarly collections and resources on November 8-10, 2002. The conference will be held at Aberdeen Woods Conference Center in Atlanta, Georgia. The 2002 Conference Planning Group is co-chaired by Bernard Reilly, President of the Center, and Beverly Lynch, former Interim President of the Center; other members of the planning group are Gay Dannelly (Notre Dame), Chris Filstrup (SUNY-Stony Brook), Dan Hazen (Harvard), Joyce Ogburn (University of Washington), Ed Shreeves (University of Iowa), James Green, CFO and Vice President of Membership and External Affairs, CRL. Ross Atkinson (Cornell) and Dan Hazen will present invited papers, and the four working groups formed at the last conference will report on their work. A call for contributed papers, focusing on three broad topics - best practices in cooperative collection development and management, measuring results and setting the terms for cooperative programs, and the development of digital resources - has recently been issued and can be viewed at

7. Acquisitions

Members will receive the list of purchase proposals to be voted on in early February.

8. JSTOR Archive

In 2000 the Center announced that it would create an archive of the print journals available through JSTOR. As of January 7, 2002, the Center's archive consists of over 3300 bibliographic volumes from 98 titles. Twenty-five titles are complete. The Center is working with JSTOR to identify additional possible contributors to the archive.

9. Foreign Official Gazettes Project

The Center, with the help of its Foreign Official Gazettes Task Force, has continued a long-term project to build a retrospective collection of Foreign Official Gazettes. The collection, to be comprised of all national level gazettes for all countries with publication dates from inception through 1995, builds upon the already substantial holdings of CRL.

Holdings within the Center's collection and holdings within the consortium are currently being analyzed. Several products from this analysis have recently been completed; these include lists of

  • titles for which holdings are complete on microfilm at CRL
  • titles/dates which exist only in hard copy at CRL and in the consortium and therefore need to be preserved on microfilm; and
  • titles/dates from Africa which exist only in hard copy. Work is underway on two lists: titles/dates which are not held by CRL and therefore need to be acquired, and titles/dates which exist on microfilm, but are not held by CRL.

The Task Force plans to use the lists above to provide the information necessary to generate proposals for pursuance of microfilming and selected acquisition projects. It has been proposed that potential projects be formed by specific area of the world. Africa has been proposed as the first area of the world for a project and the goal of that project would be the completion of a collection of record at CRL for gazettes from Africa through 1995.

Compiled by
Melissa Trevvett, January 14, 2002, with contributions from Bernard F. Reilly, James Simon, John Dorr, Patricia Finney, Carol Stukey, and James Green.