Monthly Archives: April 2014

Historic Events of the 20th Century–ARBA 2005

Historic Events of the 20th Century [DRAFT]

Historic Events of the 20th Century (available from http://www.gem.greenwood.com) Greenwood Electronic Media. Pricing dependent on institution size and type of institution, $675-$1845.

The database is divided into six sections: Civil Rights Movement, Collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union, the Holocaust, Islamic Fundamentalism, World War I and World War II. Subscriptions for one or all of the sections are available.

There is no way to search the entire Historic Events site, only individual sections. Each section opens with a preface, a narrative overview, a timeline of events (chronology) as well as topic links that, when clicked upon, displays additional links to documents on the topic, and an annotated bibliography. Information can be printed; a hotlink reformats documents for printing. The documents links appears on the left bar after clicking the topic. Documents for each topic are under ten and could be assembled from free websites, since most are famous documents or, in the case of civil rights and Islam, from contemporary sources. Getting out of the modules proved difficult, and I got lost on a few occasions. The Home link at the top of the page takes you to the Greenwood homepage not the Historic Events main page.

The timeline hotlinks open small browser windows with, what I assume, is supposed to be supplemental information. Hotlink results are uneven, at least in the timeline. In the civil rights section, the hotlink conviction of the murderer of Medgar Evers in 1994, takes one to the NewsDesk website of the University of Mississippi, where there was no additional information provided. The 1995 Supreme Court decision in Adarand Constructors v. Pena link takes you to the summary of the case at the FindLaw website, a database in the public domain. The 1992 Los Angeles Riots link opens a browser to the free NPR website for the 30th anniversary of All Things Considered, where a quote from a riot eyewitness is quoted with a link to hear the broadcast. Images for many of the links, such as (in the communism section) the 1921-1928 link for the Soviet Union’s New Economic Policy, Nicholas II and (in the Holocaust section) Paul von Hindenburg, opens a browser to LearnThings, a website for school newsletters in the United Kingdom that houses a small image of the event or person; no other additional information is provided. The timeline for Islamic fundamentalism lacks hotlinks of any kind.

Besides the Old Miss, FindLaw and NPR websites, many other links go to public websites as well. Lenin’s biography link takes you to the Lenin Internet Archive (http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/) while Brezhnev’s link takes you to CNN’s Knowledge Bank profile (http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cold.war/kbank/profiles/brezhnev/). Many of the maps link directly to the CIA World Factbook website (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/). The link for Nagorno-Karabakh brings up the website of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo (http://www.prio.no/html/fig-p170.htm), which has free articles in pdf files on troubled places throughout the world.

The lesson plans for each section correlate to the National Center for History in the Schools, and there are quotes from the National History Standards. The standards are available online (http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/nchs/standards/) from UCLA. The lesson plans tie directly into the information housed in Historic Events. Greenwood’s information page lists prices not only for school libraries but also for public libraries as well as colleges and universities. Historic Events is geared towards school teachers.

Internet browsers can yield a plethora of reliable information. A Google advanced search on the phrase “Nicholas II” and the terms “Russian Revolution” with the restriction to educational institutions (.edu) yielded as the first hit the Internet Modern History Sourcebook (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/modsbook39.html) from Fordham University. A Yahoo advanced search using the same search terms yielded Bucknell University’s Russian History site (http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/history.html) as the third hit. These sites contain links to dynasty charts, original documents, chronologies and other goodies that can easily be used in teaching. Some of these links don’t work, but these sites aren’t paid databases, either.

Greenwood repackaged information readily available for free to anyone with Internet browsing capabilities. This is a perfect example of why teaching students and teachers searching strategies for the Internet are so important. This site is for the research-challenged. A good librarian or subject guide would be just as good if not better. Better yet, a resourceful and dedicated teacher—doing the research—can take the opportunity to teach Internet research and evaluation skills while teaching these subjects; it’s never too early to begin learning to evaluate information.

The University of California Riverside’s Infomine (http://infomine.ucr.edu) and the Best of History Web Sites (http://www.besthistorysites.net/index.shtml) are two more examples of free databases that will yield comparable results to Greenwood’s offering.

REVIEWED BY: Michael W. Handis

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Dictionary of Historic Documents–ARBA 2004

Dictionary of Historic Documents [DRAFT]

26732. Dictionary of Historic Documents. Rev. ed. George Childs Kohn, ed. New York, Facts on File, 2003. 646 p. index. (Facts on File Library of World History). $75.00. ISBN 0-8160-4772-3.

This first edition of this work was published in 1991. Having been expanded, this new edition contains nearly 2,400 entries that consist of edicts, legal cases, laws, treaties, proclamations, statements, truces, petitions, concordants, bulls, oaths, etc. Gaps in the first edition have been filled; the new entries range from women’s rights documents to Hitler’s last will and testament. Many of the new entries date from 1990-2000, including the German Unification Treaty, the Unabomber Manifesto, the NAFTA agreement, Bush vs. Gore and the USA-Patriot Act. Editor Kohn admits that any such work is subjective; however, the breadth of the dictionary is remarkable, stretching from the present back to ancient Mesopotamia.

The dictionary contains a helpful Timetable of Documents, which not only lists the year and name of the document, but also the area of the world involved. There is an alphabetical Entries by Category section which breaks up the documents by continent, empire and selected countries, such as Canada, Mexico and the United States. The selected bibliography is again broken up by categories.

Each entry is followed by a bibliography of at least one source. Many entries have books or articles listed, but in some cases the only source listed is a web site. In the preface Kohn warns that “readers should be aware that addresses of websites change frequently; those listed in the dictionary were current as of press time” (p. ix). Readers beware. I tested several of the URLs listed. Martin Luther’s Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation is on the Hanover Historical Text Project’s web site. Maintained by the Hanover College Department of History, the URL is active and contains the English translation of the document. (There are a number of other historical documents listed on the Hanover site.) Many of the legal documents, such as Gillette v. United States, have FindLaw URLs, which are stable. The link provided for the Addyston Pipe and Steel Company v. United States is dead; I could not find the sponsoring agency or group from the URL. For Clinton’s Second Inaugural Address, the URL for the transcript at the University of Oklahoma Law Center is active; the PBS News Hour web site URL for the reactions to the speech is not. Too bad about Grant’s Order No. 11, the edict Ulysses S. Grant issued to exclude Jews as a class from the Department of Tennessee which set off a storm of protest during the U.S. Civil War; the link was dead, and there was no way I could identify the agency. The Grolier Presents the American Presidency link for Grant’s First Inaugural Address was also dead. A more cautious approach to including URLs in bibliographies might be practiced in the future.

The dictionary is a great starting place for undergraduate research. It also provides excellent examples of what primary sources are, a concept many undergraduates have problems understanding. People interested in historical documents will also find this a useful resource.—Michael W. Handis, Associate Librarian for Technical Services and Collection Management, Mina Rees Library, City University of New York Graduate and University Center

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Darrell D. Baker, Encyclopedia of Egyptian Pharaohs: v.1: Predynastic through Twentieth Dynasty (3300-1069 BC)–Choice (September, 2009)

Baker, Darrell D. The encyclopedia of Egyptian pharaohs: v.1: Predynastic through twentieth dynasty (3300-1069 BC) [DRAFT]

000000577528                                                                                DT58                                                                                         MARC

Baker, Darrell D. The encyclopedia of Egyptian pharaohs: v.1: Predynastic through twentieth dynasty (3300-1069 BC) Bannerstone Press, 2009 (c2008). 587p bibl index ISBN 9780977409440, $60.00

There is a lot of information in this volume. Each entry lists the various names (and cartouches) of the kings (Horus, nomen, Two Ladies, Golden Falcon) as well as the length of reign, tomb location (if known), mummy (if known), consorts, the king’s name as it appeared on Manetho’s list, and any variant names. There is a bibliography at the end of each entry as well as an extensive one at the end of the book. This is the only volume that gathers the scattered information on each king and in one case clears up a misconception that even confuses some experts. Both Smenkhkare and Neferneferuaten, co-rulers with Akhenaton, used the prenomen Ankhkheperure. This led to the merging of Smenkhkare and Neferneferuaten’s reigns, listing Smenkhkare as ruling after Akhenaton. Most scholars now believe that Smenkhkare died before Akhenaton and that Nefertiti, who had mysteriously disappeared from the historical record, took the name Neferneferuaten and started her reign before Akhenaton’s death. As Neferneferuaten, Nefertiti co-ruled into the first few years of Tutankhamen’s reign. Baker chooses to end the first volume with Dynasty XX because after it the historical record becomes jumbled, foreigners ruled Egypt and the complex period needs to be treated separately. Highly recommended.

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Ancient Greece (3 v.)–Choice (May, 2007)

Ancient Greece: v.1: Achaean League-Dorian invasion of Greece [DRAFT]
44-4799                                                                                DF214                                                                                           2006-16525 CIP

Ancient Greece: v.1: Achaean League-Dorian invasion of Greece, 1-338; v.2: Draco-Posidonius, 339-684; v.3: Praxiteles-Zeuxis of Heraclea; Appendixes; Indexes, 685-1031, ed. by Thomas J. Sienkewicz.  Salem Press, 2007.  3v bibl indexes afp ISBN 1-58765-281-1, $207.00; ISBN 9781587652813, $207.00.

According to the publisher’s note, “By design, Magill’s Choice reference sets compile and update previously published material from Salem Press.” The set brings together 29 new essays and 315 essays from: Great Events from History: the Ancient World, Prehistory-476 C.E. (2004), Great Lives from History: the Ancient World, Prehistory-476 C.E. (2004), Cyclopedia of World Authors (4th rev. ed., 2004), Encyclopedia of the Ancient World (2002), Weapons and Warfare (2002), and Magill’s Guide to Military History (2001). Each entry’s bibliography has been updated. A complete list of contents is reprinted in all volumes as well as three maps of Greece and the Near East. Entries provide phonetic pronunciations for Greek words. Biographical entries are broken into dates, category of activity, life and influence with see also references to other entries in the set. The homoeroticism of Sappho’s poetry is discussed, but overall the topics of gender and sexuality are underrepresented. There are no index terms for homosexuality, lesbianism or sex. Women’s contributions are discussed in the “Women’s Lives” entry. The third volume contains: a glossary of terms; list of historic sites with URLs; literary works by author; time line; a bibliography of secondary sources; and indices by category, name and subject. For general through undergraduate. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and general readers. — M. W. Handis, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

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Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece–Choice (April, 2006)

Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece [DRAFT]

551713                                                            DF16                                                   2005-4434

Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece, ed. By Nigel Wilson. Routledge, 2006. 800p bibl index afp ISBN 0415973341, $150.00

Based on The Encyclopedia of Greece and the Hellenic Tradition, edited by Graham Speake (reviewed in CHOICE jun 2001), which sought to cover the history of Greece from ancient times up to the present, “This new version results from the realization that there is also a place for a shorter work covering the same wide range of themes but concentrating on the ancient or classical world.” It seeks not only to focus on the traditional “classical” Greek period (Homer through Alexander the Great) but also through the fourth century A.D. The work contains lists of alphabetical entries, thematic entries and a chronology of individuals as well as an extensive index. Greek name forms that entered English from Latin have been retained with some exceptions, and 565 A.D. (Justinian I’s death) marks the direct transliteration from Greek into English. There are no illustrations or maps. Each entry has its own bibliography. For persons, a brief biography is given at the end of the entry followed by the bibliography and, in the case of authors, a list of writings. Entries from the original Speakes edition have been reprinted; in some cases, entries have been abbreviated and names changed, e.g. Corcyra for Corfu. Greek deities do not have their own entries; information on them can be found under “Gods and Goddesses” and “Religious History,” although the easiest way to find information would be to use the index. Only two women have their own entries, Cleopatra VII and Sappho. The list of contributors and advisors is impressive, with many well-known researchers in the field. For public and academic libraries.—Michael W. Handis, The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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Anne M. Mitchell and Brian E. Surratt, Cataloging and Organizing Digital Resources: a How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians–ARBA 2006

Cataloging and Organizing Digital Resources: a How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians [DRAFT]

Mitchell, Anne M., and Brian E. Surratt. Cataloging and Organizing Digital Resources: a How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York, Neal-Schuman, 2005. 219p. index. (How-To-Do-It Manuals for Librarians, no.139). $75.00pa. ISBN 1-55570-521-9.

This book is not about how to select and digitize materials. The title does what it states: it gives ideas on how to organize and make accessible digital (and already digitized) resources. And it does it well.

No book of this type could be written without a discussion of the MARC record for continuing resources. Mitchell and Surratt go into great detail to illustrate the different MARC coding in the fixed and variable fields for different types of digital resources: databases, ebooks and online manuscripts, online journals, items “born digital,” i.e. those published only on the Web, items in print which are digitized, and theses. Ironically, print theses are considered unpublished; MARC records for printed theses do not have publisher information recorded. In the electronic environment, however, theses available full-text online are considered published. (The publisher information is recorded in brackets.)

At no time do the authors talk down or take a patronizing tone. They inform and do so with aplomb. Numerous examples of MARC tagging, MARC field definitions and homepages abound. They analyze what affects bibliographic control of digital resources. Numerous examples of different types of information and how to catalog such information is presented in readable (and digestable) form.

My favorite chapter (3) is “Exploring Alternatives to Cataloging.” Why catalog digital resources? Good question. There are other alternatives to entering a full MARC record into a library’s ILS. Constructing full MARC records is time-consuming, as any cataloger knows. Metadata creation is no different. Web lists are an alternative and can be much more visible and flexible. There are also companies, such as Serials Solutions, which provide an indexing and updating service for online materials on a regular basis. The drawback, of course, is that the resources are not available via subject or keyword searching, nor are they in the “one stop” ILS. Federated searching offers another way to find the resources, but some databases are not accessible to these search engines, and duplication can occur in some cases. Any choice of access offers benefits and drawbacks. The important point, the authors argue, is for libraries to adopt a bibliographic strategy with regard to the online resources available through the Web.

Each chapter has a bibliography at the end of it for more information. There is also a good index at the back of the book. The book is well-organized with good illustrations. Unfortunately, books of this type have a short shelf-life. In 2008, a new cataloging standard will be released. As of this writing, the plan is to abandon AACR for something more flexible and adaptable to multiple technological environments. Whether this comes to pass remains to be seen.

Regardless, Cataloging and Organizing Digital Resources is a valuable resource for librarians unfamiliar with the online environment and libraries just beginning to grapple with the problems of making online collections accessible.

REVIEWED BY: Michael W. Handis, Associate Librarian for Collection Management, The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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Bojana Mojsov, Osiris: death and afterlife of a god–Choice (May, 2006)

Bojana Mojsov, Osiris: death and afterlife of a god [DRAFT]

000000552414 BL2450 2004-2842 CIP

Mojsov, Bojana. Osiris: death and afterlife of a god. Blackwell Publishing, 2005. 150p bibl index afp ISBN 1405131799 pbk, $27.95

This survey book covers more than the Osiris cult. Mojsov traces not only the history of the Osiris cult (and others) over time but also the relation of religion and state in Egypt, starting with prehistory and ending with the Islamic conquest of Egypt. Kings used cults to strengthen their authority, with the favorite local cults of the dynasties being elevated to national status. The Old and Middle Kingdom god Ra gave way to the New Kingdom sun cult of Amun, with the two deities merging into Amun-Ra. The popularity of Osiris, lord of the underworld, ebbed and flowed over the centuries of Egyptian history but never disappeared. The Osiris cult—along with that of his wife Isis—became extremely popular in the Greco-Roman world, with their temples spreading throughout the Mediterranean long after Amun and other once-popular deities were forgotten. The triad of Osiris-Isis-Horus had a great influence on the evolution of Christianity. Osiris gets lost at times as Mojsov traces Egyptian political history. Written in jargon-free language, this book will interest anyone in Egyptian history, politics or religion as well as those interested in the Egyptian contribution to Christianity.—Michael W. Handis, The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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Toby Wilkinson, The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Ancient Egypt–Choice (February, 2006)

Toby Wilkinson, The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Ancient Egypt [DRAFT]

54-9871                                                           DT58                                       LC Classification

Wilkinson, Toby. The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, 2005. 271p bibl ISBN 0500051372; 9780500051375, $50.00

Lavishly illustrated, many in color, and maps of the temple complexes, the Nile and its delta. According to the preface, this book seeks “to be the most comprehensive, single-volume dictionary of ancient Egypt currently available in the English language.” The bibliography (p. 270-271) is broken up into subjects: general; art, architecture and monuments; history; individual rulers and periods; language, literature & writing; and religion. The dictionary covers Egypt up to the Macedonian conquest in 332 B.C. Entries are alphabetical and listed under the transliterated spellings of Egyptian names with cross-references from the more familiar forms, e.g. Khufu for Cheops. It incorporates the most recent scholarship, such as the CT scan of Tutankhamun’s mummy that showed no blunt trauma to the head, thereby discrediting the theory that the king had been murdered. One discrepency is Nefertiti. Scholars, Wilkinson writes, now believe that Nefertiti may have ruled under the name Neferneferuaten after her husband Akhenaten’s death. There is no entry under Neferneferuaten. The entry for Smenkhkara, Akhenaten’s successor, was assumed to be an older brother of Tutankhamun but now recent scholarships suggests that Smenkhkara was really Nefertiti. There is no cross-reference from Nefertiti to Smenkhkara. Overall, an excellent general reference for public and college libraries.—Michael W. Handis, The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

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Practical Advice for Weeding in Small Academic Libraries–Collection Building (v. 26, no. 3, 2007), p. 84-87

Practical Advice for Weeding in Small Academic Libraries [DRAFT]

by Michael W. Handis

Small, academic non-research libraries do exist. The libraries, when created in the past, were in not expected to house huge research collections. However, over time, idiosyncratic items have been added until the day arrives when the collection is too unwieldy and things need to be weeded in order for the collection to continue to grow. Administration cannot give up more space or build a new library. Educated decisions need to be made in weeding the collection. Following are tips I found useful while weeding the Mina Rees Library in the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY).

CUNY and the Mina Rees Library

The Mina Rees Library serves the 34 graduate programs housed at the Graduate Center. The Graduate Center is the doctoral-granting institution of CUNY; all doctoral degrees are conferred by the Graduate Center regardless of where the classes, programs or library collections are housed. All CUNY graduate programs have offices in the Graduate Center. For example, the Business Ph. D. program, while housed at Baruch College (faculty, classes, offices and the library), has offices in the Graduate Center, from which the Ph. D. in Business is conferred.

A university of the consortial model, CUNY has 18 campuses throughout the 5 boroughs of New York City. CUNY librarians have faculty status and go through a tenure process. There is no university library system. A Council of Chief Librarians headed by the University Librarian coordinates all programs and services across the libraries.

Two types of teaching faculty are appointed at the Graduate Center. Permanently appointed faculty has the Graduate Center as their main campus. Cross-appointed faculty are those whose main campuses are one of the 17 other CUNY schools; they teach only one or two classes a year at the Graduate Center.

The Mina Rees Library, named for the first president of the Graduate Center, evolved into a library over time. The Graduate Center was founded in 1961. The library per se started as a reserve room for materials needed by graduate students and slowly grew into a library. CUNY agreed to allocate money to the New York Public Library-the Research Libraries (NYPL) to support CUNY graduate student research. At that time, the Graduate Center was located on 42nd Street, across from the main NYPL research library. In 1999, the Graduate Center moved to its current location in Manhattan at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue. The move consolidated a library which had, up to that time, been housed in different rooms on different levels of the building. No interconnectivity existed between the areas of the old library. The increased floor space in the new library allowed for the consolidation of collections which, up until that time, had been “specialized” because of where they were shelved.

No major weeding project had ever been undertaken in the Mina Rees Library up to 2002. With space projected to run out within 5 years, the library faculty set up the liaison program whereby the 34 graduate programs were divided up between the librarians. As liaisons, the librarians would not only do outreach to students and faculty in their respective areas but also review gift materials that came in on a very regular basis as well as review library materials in their areas for discard. Before this liaison program, most gifts received were added to the collection with no review. Now with review by professional librarians in specialized subject areas, many of the gifts were rejected as unsuitable for adding to the library collection. Rejection criteria for gift materials were based not only on whether or not they fit into the collection areas but also their condition. Simple rebinding of damaged books is performed for the library by a professional bindery. Because of no budget allocation for the cost, the library has no other preservation or conservation activities done to damaged materials. Also, because the library collection is in many ways transient in regards to the changing needs of the graduate programs, no provision was created in the library budget for such advanced preservation activity. Therefore, any materials in bad condition were either thrown out or put on the rejected shelves.

The collection policy, such as it was, dated to 1982. No updates or modifications were made to the document. It was therefore decided that a new library collection policy was needed.

The Collection Policy

Any collection development/management activities must have a collection policy to guide what is done. The collection policy serves a two-fold purpose: first, it states what is collected and what is retained, what criteria are used in collecting, and how materials are discarded; and secondly, and maybe more importantly, it protects librarians in times of trouble. As Intner (2006, p.15) states, “This notion, that weeding destroys valuable library materials, is both false and dangerous. It flies in the face of reality and encourages the pack rats among us to force everybody to bow down to clutter, no matter how unappealing it makes their libraries or how discouraging and inefficient their collections become to patrons.”

Many institutions have their policies posted on their web sites. The Mina Rees Library’s collection policy at <http://library.gc.cuny.edu/INFO/collpolicy.asp&gt; started as an amalgam of three or four policies found on the Web and merged into one Word document. From there, changes specific to the Graduate Center were made until, through editing and rewriting, it became a document specific to the Mina Rees Library. The collection policy began by reiterating the vision and mission statement of the library. This information came from the academic bulletin put out by the CUNY Graduate Center every three years and approved by the Graduate Council. In effect, this justifies what follows in the policy.

Once I had a working copy, I took it to a faculty meeting and let my colleagues make suggestions and comments. Take the rough draft, make the changes, and send out the revised copy via email to the librarians for revision. Before the next faculty meeting, send out the final draft and ask that everyone be ready to approve or make their final recommendations.

Once the policy is finished and approved, the library director must get it approved by upper-level administration. Make sure that this is done, since approval from administration makes it clear that the library in no way hides its activities. Once the collection policy is approved, it cannot be so easily changed:

“To change a current collection development policy would require a meeting of the board of directors, administration or some kind of governing body. Any decision made by such a body would be corporate, and one that would have input from all parties involved in the library” (Strnad 1995, p.30).

The collection policy functions as protection as well as a tool to guide weeding.

After achieving administration’s approval, be sure to post the collection policy on the library web site. This is done to make sure that the information is available to users. The library hides no of its procedures or activities from users.

Collection policies should be amended on a regular basis as changes in the curriculum are made and the bibliographic needs of the institution change. In most cases these changes are minor and do not require going through administration approval again. The collection policy is an active document and should not be allowed to languish.

Weeding, the Collection Policy and the Mina Rees Library

Section XI of the Mina Rees Library collection policy deals with weeding <http://library.gc.cuny.edu/INFO/collpolicy.asp#weeding&gt;:

“To keep the collection current and to maintain adequate shelf space for new acquisitions, out-of date, older editions, outworn, or damaged copies of materials will be weeded routinely.

Replacements of older editions and damaged materials will be made at the discretion of the selector. Currently, there is no budget for replacements.

Material of historical or reference value will be retained only if it continues to support the current curriculum in the Tier I programs.”

It was decided to divide the 34 CUNY graduate programs into two groups. The Tier I programs are those whose faculty, classes and library resources are housed at the Graduate Center. Tier II programs are those programs that have offices in the Graduate Center but whose library collections, research facilities, etc. are housed at other CUNY campuses. This made the most sense and it allowed the librarians to concentrate on the Tier I programs while not ignoring the Tier II programs.

Because the Mina Rees Library is so small, Section XI is the library’s weeding policy. The collection must be kept current and relevant to the present curriculum and old materials will be discarded unless they are of some value. Simple and direct, yet it puts the responsibility for weeding decisions solely on the librarians.

Teaching Faculty, Librarians and Weeding

Library faculty must be made to understand how important the weeding of the collection is. My job entails being the collection manager, so I oversee the overall weeding project. I use an Excel spreadsheet to record the stack ranges and the names of liaisons responsible for those areas. Discussing weeding goals in faculty meetings is one way to ensure that librarians continue to weed on a regular basis.

There are problems with weeding, especially with many librarians: “Some librarians lack the assurance needed to make these complex decisions and feel their judgments may be challenged by patrons or colleagues” (White 1994, p.50).   It is better for a librarian unsure about what to weed to ask advice from colleagues. Do these librarians have any tips on how they weed their collections? What have their past experiences been with weeding projects?

Many librarians prefer to ask teaching faculty in their subject areas for help on weeding. If good relations between the subject librarian and the teaching faculty in that field are good, it may pay to ask for help. Teaching classes and doing research takes time, and teaching faculty may not have the time to help.

Teaching faculty has a vested interest in the library. They want as many resources in their field as possible in the library. This is where teaching faculty and librarians differ. Librarians are trained to take the entire collection into account. In general, teaching faculty are very agreeable to assist in weeding, but finding time in their schedule to come to the library and look at the books is difficult. If you are on a timetable you may have to forego their help.

One colleague at the Mina Rees Library sought input from the executive officer of one of the programs for which she is responsible. The response she got from the faculty chair was that every book in the subject was important and nothing should be discarded. This type of useless advice from a faculty member can undermine a less-experience librarian’s confidence in being able to weed:

“Weeding materials has always been a difficult exercise and one we avoid assiduously. We rationalize that unwillingness with comments like ‘Insufficient time’ or ‘someone might want it sometime.’ The reality is that most of us just can’t bring ourselves to throw books away. Even when the shelves are full, we find it difficult to free valuable space by discarding less desirable items” (Engeldinger 1999, p.50).

Everyone must do their fair share. The director of the library can ensure that all librarians and staff are working for the same goals. Without the support of the director, a collection manager’s job will be inhibited, if not impossible.

What to do with Withdrawn Materials

New York State law prohibits the reselling of state property. In the case of the Mina Rees Library, CUNY is a New York State university. Therefore, once materials are received in a state-affiliated library and property-stamped, the materials are state property. Westchester Community College, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, would give away materials withdrawn from its collection. A truck located near the entrance to the library would offer withdrawn materials free to anyone to take.

Though the Graduate Center increased its space in 1999, lack of adequate space is a problem. Besides the 34 graduate programs, the Graduate Center houses 28 specialized research centers and institutes. In addition, the CUNY Baccalaureate Program and the School of Professional Studies as well as the Continuing Education and Public Programs are all housed in the Graduate Center.

The space crunch has also affected the Mina Rees Library. Offices needed for Information Technology staff caused a reshuffling of reference librarians’ offices as well as the moving of the Assistive Technology office to where the photocopy room used to be located. Photocopiers were relocated to the seating area across the hall from the room. The library has no room to store or unpack gift boxes, so donations are stored along the wide hallway outside the librarians’ offices. This is also where bindery shipments are left for pick-up and drop off.

With no room for gifts and exchange activities, limited staff and an on-going book sale, there is simply no room for the discarded library materials, so they are thrown out.

Sensible Weeding Suggestions

The following are tips that make help make weeding decisions easier.

ILS Reports. Generally your ILS can generate circulation reports. By identifying materials that have not circulated in years (or ever) these materials can be pulled for review. Library staff can pull these items and forwarded them to the subject librarian, who reviews the titles. If your ILS doesn’t generate reports, or you lack internal control over your ILS (like the Mina Rees Library), read on.

  1. Dust settles on everything when it isn’t used regularly. If an item has not been touched in years and there is a coat of dust on it, my inclination is to withdraw it.
  2. Anything found with mold on it should be withdrawn immediately. A book covered with black and red mold on its covers was once sent to me. I promptly discarded it. If the item is heavily used, order another copy. Mold is hazardous; do not endanger your health or the health of your colleagues or patrons.

Item by Item. This means going through a selected range item by item. A graduate student working for me was given the criteria to examine the date due slips to determine when (or even if) the item ever circulated. (At the time, the Mina Rees Library still stamped the due dates in the books.) Items that had not circulated for 5 years were pulled and sent back to me for review. I sent back about one third of the materials pulled to be reshelved.

Item Records. Item records give the date of the barcode’s creation, sometimes who created it, and a count of the number of times an item has circulated. Most ILS systems also allow a count for browsing. Browsing is when an item is removed from the shelf, used in the library, and left somewhere in the library. A stacks clean-up by students or staff retrieves these items. By using the circulation module to “discharge” the item, the ILS records this action as a browse, since the item was not charged out. Item record information can usually be generated in a circulation ILS report. (See ILS Reports.) Materials browsed but not charged out are candidates for retention.

Serials and Weeding. The battle over the retention of print serials already available online in Project Muse and the like continues. Countless articles have been written, pro and con, on keeping/tossing the print. Things to remember include: does any other library in the area have it in print?; is the online version of the title from a reputable vendor, such as JSTOR?; inter-library loan requests can get articles from other institutions retaining the print title, if necessary; your institution is an academic but not a research library. With this limitation, you must be careful what you do. Should heavily used titles be retained even if they are online? If it comes to a space issue, hard decisions on which titles to retain and discard must be made. Remember that users miss serial titles more readily than monographs. How do your library colleagues feel about the title? What field is it in? Some humanities faculty prefer print to online.

Primary Resources. I am not talking about archival collections or rare books but published primary resources, such as the different series in the British Parliamentary Papers. Though your collection policy may clearly state that research materials are not collected by the library, I have never worked in a small institution which did not contain some published primary resources. These materials may be in microforms or in print. Microforms generally take up less space. Even print primary resources in small libraries rarely fill hundreds of shelves. I am loath to throw out primary resources. Perhaps additional shelving can be added to a wall where these materials can be transferred? This would create a new collection of primary resources that do not circulate but are accessible to everyone. It also takes the materials out of the shelving mix and solves the problem. Otherwise, you may have to discard.

Final Thoughts

Weeding is an essential part of collection management. Because of time constraints, lack of interest or fear of discarding useful materials, librarians avoid performing this important task.

Mistakes will be made. Materials will be discarded that may well need to be reordered at some point. Remember, “… college libraries are not research libraries. They need not keep everything. Their role in preservation is not pivotal” (Engeldinger 1999, p.51). Interlibrary loan exists to get materials for users not housed in their library. Weeding is an essential job that must be performed on a regular basis.

References

Collection Policy 2005, Mina Rees Library, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, viewed 13 October 2006 < http://library.gc.cuny.edu/INFO/collpolicy.asp >.

Engeldinger, EA 1999, ‘Weeding naturally,’ College & Undergraduate Libraries, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 47-51.

Intner, SS 2006, ‘Weeding, collection development, and preservation,’ Technicalities, vol. 26, no. 3 (May/June), pp.1, 14-18.

Therapeutic Goods Administration 2004, Department of Health and Aging, Canberra, viewed 13 October, 2004, <http://www.tga.gov.au/recalls/index.htm&gt;.

Strnad, B 1995, ‘How to look a gift horse in the mouth, or how to tell people you can’t use their old junk in your library,’ Collection Building, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 29-31.

White, L 1994, ‘Weeding library collections: get around to it.’ Colorado Libraries, vol. 20 (Winter), pp. 50-51.

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The Joseph Buttinger Collection on Utopias at The Graduate and University Center, City University of New York–WESS Newsletter (Fall, 2009)

The Joseph Buttinger Collection on Utopias at The Graduate and University Center, City University of New York [DRAFT]
by Michael W. Handis (mhandis@gc.cuny.edu)

Joseph A. Buttinger gave the last part of his utopia collection to the Graduate Center in 1971. In the deed of gift Mina Rees, then president of the Graduate Center, promised that the collection would always be housed together and that none of the materials would circulate. Nearly four decades later, the Joseph Buttinger Collection on Utopias is housed safely in the Graduate Center’s Mina Rees Library.

Who was Joseph Buttinger? Born in Barvaria, Buttinger went to Austria at 15 to find factory work. He immersed himself in the Socialist movement there and at 24 became the secretary of the Social Democratic Party. Imprisoned for several months in 1934 because of his anti-Nazi stance, Buttinger joined the Socialist underground. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Buttinger fled to Paris and, in 1940, to the United States. He helped form what would become the International Rescue Committee, dedicated to helping refugees fleeing from oppression. For the next 42 years Buttinger served the IRC in various positions. It was his contact with Vietnamese refugees that drew Buttinger into the culture, history and politics of the country. Though only formally educated through sixth grade, Buttinger became a scholar and analyst on Vietnam, writing several well-received books on the subject. Buttinger died in 1992.

With all that Buttinger had seen in his life, little wonder that he would collect materials dealing with utopias. There are a total of 1,204 titles in the collection, with the majority of items in English. However, there are large parts of the collection in French (247 titles) and in German (229 titles). The collection is in two locations. Materials of recent publication (962 titles) are in the open stacks but can only be used in the library. The rare materials (247 titles) are housed in special collections.

The oldest book in the collection, Sylua syluarum, was published in 1631 and written by Sir Francis Bacon. La relation de l’isle imaginarie; et, L’historie de la princesse de Paphlagonie is from 1659 and is attributed to Anne-Marie-Louise d’Orléans, the Dutchess of Montpensier. Montpensier was the cousin of Louis IV of France. She was exiled when she refused to marry the man that her cousin had selected for her. The Graduate Center is the only North American library to have this edition; it is currently being used by a CUNY Ph. D. candidate in her dissertation research.

Buttinger’s interpretation of “utopia” included not only works of fiction but also those dealing in the real world. Bob Brown’s manuscript, How to Start a Co-Op Colony, is based on Brown’s experience in founding the Llano Colony, a cooperative farm located in Louisiana. Robert Owen’s A Development of the Principles and Plans on which to Establish Self-Supporting Home Colonies (1841) discusses practical applications of communism. Owen’s autobiography is also in the collection. There are books on slavery, such as Robert Dale Owen’s The Wrong of Slavery, the Right of Emancipation, and the Future of the African Race in United States, published in 1864. There are also rare serials, such as the London Phalanx, covering British social and economic conditions in the 19th century. It was only published in 1842-1843. Gustave de Molinari’s The Society of Tomorrow has the newest imprint (1972) and deals with forecasting future political and economic organizations.

Buttinger kept hand-written cards that recorded various information on the individual titles including some notes that were included in the bibliographical records. For the 1644 title, Le Voyageur curieux qui fait le tour du monde avec sds matières d’entretien qui composent l’Histoire curieuse, Buttinger wrote, “We could not find any record in Brunet or Barbier. This work eludes all our long search for any record. Of great rarity.” “An extremely rare 17th century French utopia,” Buttinger wrote for Montpensier’s La relation de l’isle imaginare.

Though the Mina Rees Library is not open to the general public, special permission to use the collection can be arranged. The collection can be browsed through the CUNY library catalog from the Office of Library Services’ web site (http://apps.appl.cuny.edu/) and doing a command search on the two location codes, buttc and buttr (wcl=buttc and wcl=buttr).

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