Premier Historical Collection of Columbia University's School of Library Service Will be Preserved, Rehoused, and Made Globally Accessible

April 26, 2002 - Columbia University Libraries has embarked on a project to preserve, rehouse, and enhance access to the School of Library Service library collection.

Over the next three years, catalog records for the collection's 110,000 volumes will be converted to machine-readable form and made accessible in the Libraries' online catalog, CLIO, as well as through the national bibliographic utilities, OCLC and RLIN. The collection will be inventoried and moved to the Research Collections and Preservation (ReCAP) Consortium's Shelving Facility, with fragile items receiving preservation treatment.

The School of Library Service Library collection is the strongest historical collection in the world for materials relating to libraries and librarianship. The collection was started in 1887 with a few "practice books" used by the first class of students in the first Library School in the nation founded by Melvil Dewey at Columbia University. These early classroom materials were rapidly supplemented by theoretical materials and journal subscriptions, and further enriched by the acquisition of the Alumni Collection (publications written by former graduates of the school), the Annual Reports collection (library annual reports from major U.S. and foreign public and academic libraries), and the Historical Children's collection.

Over the course of its 100 year history the SLS collection grew in size and scope, amassing all manner of material documenting every aspect of librarianship, including unique pamphlet type holdings -- commemorative publications, manuals, handbooks, unpublished research papers and lectures from the first half of the 20th century -- and a vast periodical collection, of library science journals and newsletters, library school catalogs, periodical publications from libraries, library schools, library consortia, and library supply companies. A significant portion of the periodicals collection is made up of foreign language titles from all over the world.

"This documentary record of librarianship as it was practiced from its inception to its entry into the digital age is a national treasure and it is gratifying to know that it will not be abandoned to disintegrate, or be dispersed but instead be preserved and made accessible to scholars, both present and future" said Olha Della Cava, SLS Collection Librarian from 1980 - 1991.

Columbia University Libraries is the nation's eighth largest academic library system, with 7.5 million volumes, 49,000 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms and other non-print formats. The collections are particularly strong in humanities and history, architecture, East Asian and other Area Studies materials, oral history, theater, and original materials in English and American literature and history. The collections and services are organized into 22 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. The Library's web site is a gateway to the print and electronic collections and services.