« Case and WRU in the Great Depression | Main | Veterans Day: Remembering Those Who Served »

October 28, 2014

W.P.A. Project - Cleveland Regional Union Catalog

The theme of 2014 Archives Month in Ohio is Ohio in the Depression. A project, promoted by faculty and administrators of Western Reserve University (WRU) that started 4/10/1936 as a Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) project, was the Cleveland Regional Union Catalog.

The purpose was to bring together into one place records of the holdings of libraries and other institutions. The original 42 participants included libraries of colleges and universities (such as WRU, Case School of Applied Science, Ohio State University, Oberlin College, John Carroll University), other libraries (such as Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland Medical Library, Lakewood Public Library) and organizations (such as Cleveland Board of Education, Rowfant Club, Western Reserve Historical Society, Nela Park).

The project soon expanded and was known as the state-wide Cleveland Regional Union Catalog. To develop this expanded Catalog, three other W.P.A. projects were established (7/27/1937, 1/4/1938, and 8/16/1938). The W.P.A. provided the clerical labor for the projects. Public support of the catalog ended 11/25/1939.

The first-entry library cards of the entire General Catalogs of the participating institutions were “photographed and transcribed on cards to constitute the state-wide Cleveland Regional Union Catalog.” WRU maintained the Catalog. The Cuyahoga County Board of Education helped to sponsor the project until it became state-wide and the Ohio State Library Board sponsored it after the state-wide expansion. Over the years some libraries dropped out, other libraries joined the effort, and many maintained their participation in the project by submitting cards as new purchases were made and items were withdrawn from their libraries.

During the 1940s the Library of Congress Union Catalog Division received and transcribed the cards constituting the entire state-wide Cleveland Regional Union Catalog. In 1956 the Catalog contained over 2,600,000 cards. In January 1956 the Cleveland Regional Union Catalog began “sending monthly shipments of main-entry cards from eleven of its important libraries selected by the Library of Congress for publication in the National Union Catalog.”

The Cleveland Regional Union Catalog was maintained well into the 1970s. The need for such a catalog was superseded over time by advances in networked information, especially the online catalog. Case Western Reserve University had been a founding member of OCLC. (In 1967 the Ohio College Library Center, now known as the Online Computer Library Center, was established.) During the 1971-1972 academic year, CWRU University Libraries introduced the new on-line cataloging system to its campus. “The system provides access to the large data base of bibliographic records from the Library of Congress MARC project as well as records stored by members on a current basis.”

The efforts of multiple 1930s-era W.P.A. projects are a fine example of the collaboration and cooperation by libraries which continues to this day.

Posted by hxy2 at October 28, 2014 07:19 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://blog.case.edu/archives/mt-tb.cgi/27451

Comments

Post a comment




Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)