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Symposium Proceedings Reveal Innovative Approaches to Describing Rare Collections

Volume documents capstone event to CLIR’s 

Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program

Contact: Kathlin Smith

Washington, DC, November 10, 2015-The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) today published proceedings of the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Symposium held in March 2015.

The volume, titled Innovation, Collaboration, and Models, documents the capstone event to the seven-year Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program was created to expose collections of high scholarly importance that were not previously discoverable online. Since the program’s inception in 2008, CLIR has awarded 129 grants totaling $27.5 million.

More than 20 symposium presenters examine inter-institutional collaboration, student and faculty involvement, cataloging, arrangement and description, audiovisual collections, science collections, and outreach in the volume, which is edited by Cheryl Oestreicher.

“The labor involved in cataloging hidden collections most often takes place in private corners, obscured from public view,” write CLIR staff members Amy Lucko and Christa Williford in an introduction to the volume. “Few people outside the cultural heritage professions recognize the breadth and variety of the contributions of librarians, archivists, curators, and researchers in their endeavors to understand and contextualize scholarly materials. The essays in this volume reveal innovative developments for the many kinds of intellectual labor required to make collections accessible.”

“The collections unhidden through CLIR’s cataloging initiative can-and will-transform the landscapes of research, teaching, and public engagement in humanist studies here in the U.S. and around the world,” notes Jacqueline Goldsby, professor of English and African American Studies at Yale, who gave the keynote presentation.

The two-day symposium and unconference, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, brought together more than 180 participants, including many past and current grant recipients. Kislak Center Director William Noel presented closing remarks.

The volume includes an epilogue by CLIR Distinguished Presidential Fellow Michael Peter Edson, as well as appendixes linking to unconference session notes, posters, and a report, “Learning at Work in the Archives: The Impact of Access to Primary Sources on Teaching and Learning,” by former CLIR Postdoctoral Fellows Kelly Miller and Michelle Morton.

The report is available in electronic format only. The PDF and keynote videos are available at

CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. It aims to promote forward-looking collaborative solutions that transcend disciplinary, institutional, professional, and geographic boundaries in support of the public good.

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