RLI 283 “There’s a Great Future in Plastics” 12 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 collections, and assistant dean for advancement agreed that this collection provided an opportunity to establish—and finance—a new research collection that appealed to a wide range of faculty and students, from engineering and industrial design to history and women’s studies.2 The small group imagined public programs, such as the “Plastic Modernities” symposium, courses, exhibitions, and publications that drew on the collection. After consulting widely within the library about the workload associated with this collection, the dean approved the project and assigned the assistant dean for advancement and the director of special collections as project co-managers to interface with prospective donors and coordinate library resources and staff. This set a collaborative tone that has persisted over the project’s five years. Work Begins The assistant dean for advancement and the director of special collections drew up a fixed-term deposit agreement that allowed the library to take custody of the NPC collection and assured that the library would eventually own it. Then, in November 2008, the director of special collections drove the cargo- van filled with artifacts and several pallets of books and archives from Leominster to Syracuse. Along with the physical materials, the center transferred its archival finding aids, artifact metadata, and MARC records. The donor who initially brought the collection to the library’s attention was now a member of the library’s advisory board. He worked with some of his plastics business colleagues to provide seed money for the digitization of the artifact collection, something that they felt was vital to the project’s success, and followed with time-limited funding for a curator. To store materials temporarily, the dean reached an agreement with the university’s Coalition of Museums and Art Centers (CMAC) to use space in a recently renovated, climate-controlled warehouse. The library plans to move the artifacts in 2013 to a newly constructed high-density storage facility, which has a constant temperature of 50 degrees and a relative humidity of 30 percent. Of the 3,000 or so artifacts, only half had been previously accessioned at the item-level. As item-level accessioning was required for the nascent digital project, this task was an early priority. With a workflow in place for archival collections, SCRC’s archivists were able to create collection-level accession records and to import the electronic inventories into the SCRC’s Encoded Archival Description (EAD) template. Mainstreaming the Collection Difficult-to-find printed volumes—mainly trade publications and obscure company histories, such as the amusingly titled Be Seated by Bemis, a history of the toilet-seat manufacturer—were retained in special collections. Other monographs, mostly volumes on polymer chemistry, found a temporary home in an unused meeting space. An item-level review revealed that many of them were duplicated in the circulating collections. The library’s data systems administrator was able to streamline this process by extracting bibliographic records from NPC’s catalog and matching them with the library’s own holdings. With assistance from the library’s subject specialist in chemistry, the new titles were integrated into the circulating collection. Where possible, the library retained NPC’s copy and added a note that would identify them as being “On deposit from the National Plastics Center.” (This was later changed to “Gift of…”) New items were cataloged by staff in the cataloging unit. After consulting with NPC’s representatives, the library decided to de-accession duplicate monographs.
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