Two NEH Grants Support the Preservation of Important Research Materials from the Libraries' Collection

April 2000 - The Columbia University Libraries has received two awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities to preserve research materials. Both projects will start May 1, 2000.

The first award, for $241,414, supports a two-year project to preserve audiotapes from the Language and Culture Archive of Ashkenazic Jewry (LCAAJ) held in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. The LCAAJ is an extraordinary resource for research in Yiddish studies, ranging over language, ethnography, folklore and music, anthropology, linguistics, Germanic and Slavic studies, and aspects of Central and East European history. It consists of 5,755 hours of audiotaped field interviews with Yiddish-speaking informants collected between 1959 and 1972. The material on the tapes is unique -- there are no transcriptions -- and the tapes are rapidly deteriorating. This project will preserve 1,180 hours of the most endangered recordings by producing analog reel-to-reel preservation master tapes and making them available to researchers via digital compact-disc use copies. The work will be done on campus, at the Columbia Computer Music Center. The remainder of the collection is being preserved by a combination of funds from private foundations and the New York State Conservation/Preservation Program.

The second award, for $464,026, supports a project to microfilm brittle Slavic-language materials from both the general stacks and from the Bakhmeteff Collection in the Rare Books and Manuscript Library. Over the next twelve months it will preserve approximately 4,000 brittle pamphlets and monograph volumes in Slavic languages published between 1850-1960 primarily in Russia and Eastern Europe. Materials to be filmed from the Bakhmeteff Collection also include a significant number of little-held émigré publications from Western Europe and the United States. The Libraries hope to continue this project in future years.