Report on the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant
Received by: The Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Date: April 1, 2007 through March 31, 2008
An Embarrassment of Riches: Cataloging the Uncataloged Rare Book Collection
In March 2006, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was awarded a grant of $604,000 to fund a three-year project to catalog previously uncataloged items in its Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Between March and July of 2006, a project manager was hired, computing and processing equipment was ordered and installed, and a group of catalogers was trained. Cataloging began on July 5, 2006.
For almost seventy years, much of the rare book collections at the University of Illinois have been inadequately cataloged and, thus, practically inaccessible to most users. Over a period of twenty-one months, this project has continued in providing bibliographic control of some of the Library’s most valuable resources, making them more accessible to scholars than ever before.
The following statistics reflect our progress from the period July 5, 2006 through March 31, 2008:
- 25,893 items cataloged or corrected
- 3,026 original bibliographic records contributed to the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) database
- 3,749 bibliographic records enhanced in the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) database
- 2,959 new holdings attached to records in the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)
- 54 previously unrecorded items reported to the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)
As these statistics show, this cataloging project not only enhances research functions at the University of Illinois, but internationally as well, through its contributions to online databases such as OCLC and ESTC.
The impact of this project became evident in practice only a few months after cataloging began when library users regularly began to request items that had been virtually inaccessible for nearly three quarters of a century. It continues to be evident as recently-cataloged items are used by on-campus faculty and students, class presentations, visiting scholars, and a number of digitization projects.