Mellon grant helps librarys
ledgers and papers in the old metal filing cabinets contain valuable
records about 19th-century Richmond, the Civil War and industrial
slavery. When the University Library begins a comprehensive survey
of its vast manuscript and archive holdings this spring, the donated
documents will probably be rated high for work
needed to preserve them.
of the largest special collections libraries in the country, with
unrivalled resources in American history and literature, the library
has received a $265,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
to develop and test a plan for research libraries to prioritize
the preservation and processing needs of their ever-growing collections
of manuscript material.
teams of trained evaluators survey the approximately 15 million
manuscript items in the librarys special collections, they
will rank each set of materials for its research value, ease of
physical access and online descriptive access, and physical condition,
said Michael Plunkett, director of special collections. The project
will list cataloging and preservation priorities and possibilities
for more fully describing the material and providing images and
the help of faculty consultants, the library also will take into
account new trends and needs in scholarship. For example, African-American
history is a growing area of research that will rate a high priority
for easy access to documents by students and researchers.
survey will produce a sophisticated data base that provides
an overall assessment of exactly where we stand, Plunkett
said. The two-year project will be completed some time after the
department moves into a new, state-of-the-art facility, the Albert
and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, scheduled to
open in the fall of 2004.