Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries
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PHILADELPHIA, PA (April 2005)--The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) announced that it has received a $411,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to survey uncataloged manuscript collections in 20 of its 28 member libraries.

"This project will help researchers to uncover some of the hidden treasures in our area libraries and archives," explained PACSCL Board chair David Moltke-Hansen. "At the same time, it will help our members to identify the most significant materials among our respective backlogs so that we can prioritize our efforts, both as individual repositories and as a consortium. Studying these collections can help us deepen our understanding of who we are as a city, a region, a nation, and a people. We are deeply grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their support for this project."

Using a survey model based on one previously used at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, where Moltke-Hansen is President, teams of surveyors will assess uncataloged collections for their research value and their physical condition. The results of the survey will be entered into national research library databases as well as the organizations' own online catalogs. The three-year project will address some 33,000 linear feet of archival collections across the 22 institutions.

"One of the most exciting things about this project to me, "observes Robert Kieft, director of the Haverford College Library and member of the project steering committee, "is the way we will be able to identify 'collections of collections' - materials at one institution that complement and enrich our understanding of materials at other institutions. These kinds of connections will help us make decisions not only about processing our collections but about ways we can think strategically about building our collection strengths as a region."

Participants in the project include the Academy of Natural Sciences, American Philosophical Society, Athenæum of Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr College, Chemical Heritage Foundation, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Free Library of Philadelphia, Haverford College, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Library Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Presbyterian Historical Society, Rosenbach Museum & Library, Swarthmore College, Temple University, University of Delaware, University of Pennsylvania, Villanova University, and the Wagner Free Institute of Science. Two additional members, the Hagley Museum & Library and the National Archives Mid Atlantic Region, are sharing their expertise from related projects.

The consortial survey project is one of a set of PACSCL initiatives that contribute to the formation of a Greater Philadelphia Research Collections Network. These initiatives will increase access to, and awareness of, a set of collections that can be thought of as "One Big Library" - a huge rare book and manuscript library with 28 branches in the greater Philadelphia area to support the region's "One Big Campus" of more than 80 colleges and universities. They include a program to provide "one-click" access to the online catalogs of all 28 member libraries; another project to provide single-point searching of archival finding aids, digital collections, and online exhibitions; and the creation of a geographic information system that allows researchers to explore Philadelphia history and culture by clicking on an interactive map or entering address information.

PACSCL's 28 member libraries and archives collect, care for, and share with a world-wide audience collections that, in their depth and variety, comprise an internationally important body of rare and unique materials for students, scholars, and lifelong learners at any level.


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