[Coll_Collab] Fwd: Houghton Library completes conversion of manuscript catalog

Martha L Smalley martha.smalley at yale.edu
Wed Jan 17 15:54:32 EST 2007

>Houghton Library's cataloged manuscript collections are now fully 
>web-accessible through HOLLIS <http://hollis.harvard.edu>, with the 
>finding aids available in OASIS <http://oasis.harvard.edu>, 
>Harvard's finding aids database, and RLG's ArchivesGrid. The 
>five-year project to migrate the manuscript card catalog to an 
>electronic format saw the conversion of some 1,519 typescript 
>collection finding aids to EAD 2002 (43,618 pages) and the creation 
>of 5,717 MARC records (916 new collection-level records and 4,801 
>new single-item manuscript records). Completed last month, the 
>conversion project was funded by Harvard University's Library 
>Digital Initiative, with matching funds from the Harvard College Library.
>"If researchers can't find a description of it online these days, it 
>doesn't exist," commented Project Director Leslie A. Morris, 
>Houghton's Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts. "This project 
>was essential to bring the library into the modern digital research 
>environment, and to provide easy access to Houghton's unique 
>manuscripts worldwide. Additionally, it gives us the bibliographic 
>infrastructure on which to build digital content easily, further 
>improving access to our collections."
>Houghton's manuscript collection is diverse, with material in more 
>than 40 languages, and ranging in date from ostraca ca. 300 BCE to 
>the latest novel by John Updike.  The retrospective conversion 
>project focused on material in Western languages, for which at least 
>minimal descriptive information existed. This included material in 
>Breton, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, 
>Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Latin, Norwegian, Portuguese, 
>Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Welsh; as well as Ethiopic, Hebrew, 
>Oriya, Pali, and Sanskrit.  For all materials, scope and content 
>notes were added where needed; each single-item manuscript was 
>examined and its physical description verified; old subject headings 
>were standardized to conform to Library of Congress forms, and 
>standard genre and form headings (such as diaries, galley proofs, 
>seals, etc.) added.
>In addition to Morris, the project team included a Project 
>Coordinator (first Jackie Dean, then Diane Booton) who created MARC 
>records, performed quality control on finding aids returned from 
>vendors, and coordinated the work of the 31 students employed by the 
>project over the years who did rekeying, markup enhancement, and who 
>provided additional language expertise.  Additionally, the grant 
>funded a 15-month Project Cataloger (initially Diane Booton, 
>latterly Susan Wyssen) to include the single-item manuscripts not 
>part of collections.
>"All projects throw off additional work to regular staff," 
>acknowledged Morris, "and we could not have made such rapid progress 
>without being able to off-load difficult finding aid conversion 
>problems onto Senior Manuscript Cataloger Bonnie Salt, whose years 
>of experience with Houghton manuscript cataloging made easy what, to 
>temporary project staff, was difficult."  Houghton music cataloger 
>Morris Levy contributed records for manuscript music, and Manuscript 
>Cataloger James F. Coakley created records for Syriac and Department 
>of Printing and Graphic Arts manuscripts, adding close to 1,000 
>records to the above totals.
>Leslie A. Morris
>Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts
>Houghton Library, Harvard University
>Cambridge, MA 02138
>e-mail: Leslie_Morris at harvard.edu
>phone:  617.495.2449
>fax:    617.495.1376

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