Columbia University Libraries Special Collections Assessment Survey Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

NEW YORK, April 8, 2003 - The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $205,000 to the Libraries at Columbia University to survey 338 unprocessed and 562 underprocessed collections from three of Columbia's special collections - Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, C. V. Starr East Asian Library, and Rare Book and Manuscript Library. At the conclusion of the one-year project, the Libraries special collections staff will have an expanded understanding of the condition and future preservation, processing, and access needs of these unique collections. The survey will build upon the work of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, extend it to an academic research library setting and refine the criteria to include new digital media and other non-book formats.

Jim Neal, University Librarian and Vice President for Information Services, said, "At the conclusion of the project we will have a better understanding of the work required to improve access to our special collections and to grasp the problems of new media preservation and use. The information gathered during this project will be beneficial to us as we expand awareness and use of our special collections and also benefit our colleagues who face similar issues relating to processing backlogs and new media preservation in special collections."

The one year project will be directed by Jean Ashton, Director of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. The special collections at Columbia are homes to over 600,000 rare books, 28 million manuscripts filed in 3,000 separate collections, 75,000 photographs, and 40,000 prints and drawings. In addition to printed and manuscript resources, the library contains cuneiform tablets, papyri, maps, works of art, posters, sound recordings and other interesting objects and materials.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 7.5 million volumes, over 50,000 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms and other non-print formats. The collections and services are organized into 22 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. The Library's web site at is a gateway to the print and electronic collections and to services.


Patricia Moran
Director of Development
Columbia University Libraries
Columbia University in the City of New York

4/8/03 PM