On the Shelf: 2020 Year in Review

Each month I have checked in here to provide updates about the growth and development of our print collections.  We steward several print collections of books, periodicals (both bound and loose issues), tracts, and pamphlets.  We also catalog audio, video, and digital materials in several formats which were/are published or otherwise widely distributed; nearly all of them are either produced by the University or are Stone-Campbell-related.  These are discoverable through the online library catalog.  As an aside, we have tens of thousands of A/V items (reels and cassettes, mostly) in our archival collections.  These items are usually not published or mass-produced, such as sermons delivered at congregations.  These are discoverable, in varying degrees, through the finding aids we create for each collection.

‘New Library Quarters’ from The Optimist, February 25, 1937. Available at: https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101341/m1/3/

In nearly every case, when we add items to print collections, the new catalog records are also pushed over to Worldcat so they are globally discoverable.  Many of the Stone-Campbell items we preserve have never been cataloged before, so each month in my blog posts I call attention to how original cataloging is a tremendous contribution to knowledge about information resources from and about the Stone-Campbell Movement.  Additionally, I am always looking out for variant editions and printings of Stone-Campbell items so our collection represents the full breadth of our publishing activities.  These variations are also noted in the catalog records.

As we begin 2021, with great thanks to our colleagues and student workers in Technical Services, we can reflect on the addition of 2,749 items* to our print collections. Thank you to Gary Oliver for his work with original cataloging, to Shan Martinez who creates multiple hundreds of records and supervises several students, and volunteer Linda Foster who has faithfully created records for thousands of tracts (with thousands more to go).  Shan’s work in 2020 is especially significant in that she cataloged almost 400 boxes worth of unbound periodicals this past year.

*Some of these ‘items’ in my monthly lists are in reality only the titles of items which in the case of loose periodical issues represent many, many (many) more ‘items’ than might be readily apparent.  Unbound periodical issues present a storage and cataloging challenge.  We store them in boxes (often multiple titles in a single box when we only have a few issues of a title), number the boxes, and when the box contents are cataloged, these box numbers function like a call number.  The boxes vary in size (about 10 x 13 x 4 in thick) to bankers boxes and a few larger boxes here and there.  The cataloging work involves collation of issues, arrangement, storage, and description, so there is quite a bit more work to cataloging these than you might realize.  Mac and student workers accomplished much of this, but Shan’s work at the point of cataloging is an added layer of verification.  In 2020 we began at box 404 and now are filling box 790 for the cataloged titles.  Also in early 2020 we completed a pre-sort and arrangement of an additional 200 bankers boxes of loose uncataloged periodicals and church bulletins that we will catalog.  By the way. some bulletins (single issues especially) are not cataloged but are filed in the Congregational Vertical File.  At this rate, it is entirely possible that the remaining 200 bankers boxes of loose unbound periodicals will be finished in 2021. Of course, we hope to acquire more and are perfectly content knowing the work will never truly be ‘finished.’

Here are the breakdowns of the number of items added by month in 2020.  If you’d like to see the titles and authors, browse these lists.

January: 185

February: 212

March: 404

April: 391

May: 230

June: 362

July: 139

August: 185

September: 181

October: 167

November: 135

December: 58

In order to prepare new items for our colleagues in Technical Services, I determine whether the item is within our collecting scope.  If not it goes to our colleagues for evaluation for possible addition to the circulating collection.  But if it is in scope, a student worker (I do this often, too) verifies whether we have the item already cataloged.  If not, we add it to the workflow to be cataloged.  If we already have a copy I compare its condition against the one on the shelf.  I also look for variant editions, printings, bindings, or other features (such as an author’s signature or gift inscription) that merit inclusion or a special note.   If the new book is in better condition that the shelved copy, I replace the worn copy.  If it is in comparable condition, it might go in the queue for scanning or digitization, or I offer it for the circulating collection, or trade to another library.  We then take the items upstairs to Technical Services along with instructions for catalogers: where it should be cataloged (into the CRS collection or another sub-collection within rare books), who the donor is, and whether cataloging should make special note of any edition or printing or provenance.  When the catalogers finish, our student workers lead the way in making sure items are shelved, and I or Amanda assist when needed.

Not only do these 2,749 new (and new-to-us) titles represent the fine cataloging work of our colleagues and their staff, they represent dozens of donors who wanted to see the collection grow in scope, utility, breadth, and depth.  We do not yet know how students and researchers will utilize these materials, but we look forward to the contribution they will make to our history.  And we look forward to what 2021 will bring to the shelves.



On the Shelf: New items added to Center for Restoration Studies collections, December 2020

In December our colleagues in Technical Services and Cataloging added 58 items to the Center for Restoration Studies collection.  Almost all of them are unbound periodical issues including several university publications.  The unbound, single issue periodicals continue to be a special focus of cooperation between Special Collections and Technical Services.

This group of institutional newsletters and periodicals comes on the heels of similar recent acquisitions which I detailed in the October and November reports.  Newsletters, catalogs and yearbooks from sister schools across the Restoration Movement remain a collecting focus.  If you can help us build out this set of materials, contact Mac Ice at mac.ice@acu.edu.

Abilene Christian College. Prickly Pear, Yearbook of Abilene Christian College, 1952, yearbook, 1952; Abilene, Texas. University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Abilene Christian University Library.

Our goal is to build a comprehensive research-level collection of print materials by, for, and about the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement.  But beyond assembly and preservation, a collection should be discoverable by those who need the information.  Collecting and preserving is only part of our task; those objects must be described and made available.  Thanks to the close and careful work of our colleagues upstairs, who describe our holdings, these materials are now discoverable. By discoverable I mean a patron can utilize our online catalog (such as by searching by author, or title, or subject) to find these materials.

58 new items…cataloged, shelved, and ready for research:  Continue reading

Special Collections and Archives receives Texas State Library and Archives Commission grant

The Texas State Library & Archives Commission (TSLAC) recently awarded funding to Brown Library Special Collections and Archives under its TexTreasures Grant program.  The $25,000 grant will facilitate digitization of the full print run of the Christian Chroniclea major, global newspaper serving Churches of Christ since 1943.  This project will ensure back issues of Chronicle will be available digitally by the end of summer 2021.

This project is just one of 44 made possible this year by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. “Communities in every corner of Texas will benefit from the resources that have been made available through this list of forward-thinking grant proposals,” said TSLAC Director and Librarian Mark Smith.

TSLAC awards competitive grants annually, as funding allows. For the 2020 fiscal year, which runs from September 1, 2019, to August 31, 2020, TSLAC has awarded approximately $1.23 million in competitive grants. The TexTreasures Grant will provide assistance and encouragement to 12 libraries to provide access to their special or unique collections and to make information about those collections available to library users across the state, including ACU Library’s project to digitize Christian Chronicle.

“We are grateful to the Texas State Library & Archives Commission for their generous support of this digitization project,” said James Wiser, ACU Dean of Library Services & Educational Technology. “The Brown Library houses one of the preeminent archives of the Stone-Campbell Movement, a faith heritage that has contributed much to the religious tapestry of Texas history. Digitizing our tradition’s most influential newspaper allows us to preserve and disseminate this history for generations to come.”

“From the first issue, The Chronicle was globally aware,” said Mac Ice, ACU Director of Special Collections and Archives. “Each issue since has carried news and information about Churches of Christ from around the world. It is rich in information like no other source.  We will be able to write better history because this material is available.”

Front page, Christian Chronicle, October 14, 1960.

Back page, Christian Chronicle, October 14, 1960.

Back page, Christian Chronicle, October 14, 1960.

The Christian Chronicle digital archive will be available on the Portal to Texas History (www.texashistory.unt.edu) and the ACU online repository (www.digitalcommons.acu.edu).

This digital repository of The Christian Chronicle is the result of a partnership among Special Collections and Archives, Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX), The Christian Chronicle, Oklahoma Christian University (Edmond, OK), Oklahoma Historical Society (Oklahoma City, OK), and University of North Texas (Denton, TX).