Type of Library: Public
Address: 5 Washington Street, Newark NJ 07101-0630
Project Coordinator: Chad Leinaweaver, Special Collections
Problem To Be Solved:
Providing access to many collections within our Special Collections Division, for which there is limited or no access currently, especially via the Library's online catalog or website
Shelflist Retrospective Conversion
The Newark Public Library is a fairly large, urban library with 10 branches throughout the city that provide computer access, a variety of electronic, audio, and print books to its patrons and runs various family, literacy and education programs. In its 120+ year history, the Library has also been a resource for special collections items such as fine prints, manuscripts, rare books, ephemera, and various visual materials. Many of these items were originally the responsibility of the former Art and Music Department but were housed in a Special Collections Division created in the early 1990s.
Many of the materials in the Special Collections Division have limited access. Many have been cataloged, but were cataloged decades ago and onto catalog cards, rather than into the Library’s online catalog or via finding guides on the web. Most patrons have no idea the wealth of materials contained in this collection. Fine prints from artists such as Picasso, Lichtenstein, and Warhol and rare books, such as copies of the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle or the Diderot multi-volume Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Arts et des Métiers published from 1751-1772, are just unknown beyond a handful of staff and enthusiasts.
The Special Collections staff made requests of several companies and liked the detail-oriented approach that MARCIVE provided. Of all of the companies surveyed, MARCIVE asked the most questions about the data and what the project would entail and was the most engaged with our staff about the workload and outcome. Also, the Library had worked with MARCIVE in other capacities in other departments, but not for any retrospective conversion projects.
With a grant, the plan was to create more access by converting catalog cards for the Richard C. Jenkinson Collection (a collection documenting the history of fine printing and containing about 3600 books and a host of ephemeral items and broadsides) into MARC format for the Library’s catalog. The Jenkinson Collection contained a large number of early (ca. 1450-1800) publications along with many uncommon 20th century publications, not to mention items such a print specimens, announcements, and broadsides. Portions of the collection were unlikely to be cataloged by any repository. We requested that original records be created from the catalog cards for material not found to be cataloged and that all holdings and local information be retained for every item. Thus, we could have the cataloging information (such as acquisitions information and local subject headings) from the original cards, but also benefit from any cataloging work from other repositories in MARCIVE’s own bibliographic database.
We were able to upload the complete collection of catalog cards to our online library catalog early in 2010. This is the first time that this collection (which began with donations in 1924 and 1930) had ever been available in an online environment to that point. Though we are still uploading holdings to OCLC (and will continue to do so for some time for collections items), there is more access created to this collection than ever before.