February 01, 2010

Case Western Reserve University, Western Reserve Historical Society
Sign Agreement to Begin Library Collaboration

Case Western Reserve University and Western Reserve Historical Society have joined forces to collaborate on a number of library and archival projects to build and enrich the offerings at the two institutions.

The University Circle institutions entered a memorandum of understanding to pilot a number of small projects in 2010, linking one of the nation's largest urban history collections at the Historical Society with the digitizing capabilities and knowledge at the research university.

These projects have the potential to set the stage for a long-term partnership to share resources that complement the institutions' existing collections.

"The agreement is the beginning for some fantastic things in the future," said Timothy Robson, deputy director of the Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve.

John Grabowski, historian and vice president for collections at WRHS and CWRU's Krieger-Mueller Associate Professor of Applied History, agreed. "I'm excited about the possibilities this offers the two institutions because it combines current CWRU academic priorities with the rich research resources of WRHS."

WRHS is home to 5,000 fully catalogued collections ranging from a few papers in some to more than 400 boxes in others. The Historical Society has 20 million manuscripts and more than 5 million of photographs, maps, broadsides and other printed materials.

"The Historical Society's primary research materials overlap with CWRU's strategic plan initiatives in many areas," Grabowski said. "This includes social justice, business and entrepreneurship, medicine, and histories of the numerous ethnic, cultural, religious and identity groups in our region such as the Jewish community and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender)."

The Kelvin Smith Library with its digital technologies and cataloguing capabilities has the ability to help the Historical Society move those vast collections into the digital realm for more people to access and use as resources.

Grabowski, Robson and a group of librarians from each institution wrote the memorandum to launch such first-year projects as:

  • Taking an inventory of all the equipment related to digitizing and microfilming at the two institutions,
  • Sharing cataloguing tools,
  • Applying for Pell work/study funds to support a student assistant at one or both institutions,
  • Digitizing a small but high priority body of materials from WRHS's collection to add to Digital Case and sharing on popular online systems like Flickr, and
  • Selecting and digitizing a body of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender materials from the WRHS for addition to Digital Case.

In September, the group will examine the first-year outcomes and discuss future plans.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, February 1, 2010 11:20 AM | News Topics: Collaborations/Partnerships, Research

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