RLI 283 21 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 The Eaton Collection and UC Riverside Libraries: A Study in Driving Alignment Ruth M. Jackson, Former University Librarian, University of California, Riverside, Libraries T he Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy is the largest publicly accessible archive in the world of “speculative fiction” or SF. This category includes not only science fiction and fantasy but also horror and utopian literature. The collection came to the University of California (UC), Riverside in 1969 when the family of the late J. Lloyd Eaton was looking for a library to take his book collection of about 7,500 hardcover editions of science fiction works ranging from the mid-19th to the mid- 20th centuries. At a time when even public libraries refused to collect science fiction, UC Riverside was fortunate to have the now deceased Donald G. Wilson as university librarian. A science fiction enthusiast himself, Wilson rightly reasoned that a genre as popular and influential as science fiction was worthy of academic attention, and that if no reputable institutions were building science fiction collections it was time for at least one institution to do so. Wilson acquired Eaton’s collection in toto for the library’s rare book department (now called Special Collections and Archives). Wilson’s decision to add a popular genre to a university collection was met with some criticism and even ridicule, but UC Riverside has had a succession of university librarians who shared his vision for a research archive of science fiction and fantasy. As a result, the Eaton Collection has grown from its original nucleus of 7,500 works to over 100,000 volumes, ranging from the 1517 edition of Thomas More’s Utopia to the most recently published titles in many languages. As a Level-5 collection, it encompasses not only printed monographs but also serials, comic books, anime, manga, and realia. Presently, the total number of items in the collection is well over 300,000. In an independent study published in College & Research Libraries in January 2006, the Eaton Collection was ranked as the leading science fiction collection among all ARL Libraries.1 The attainment of this status has been the result of strategic efforts to mainstream the Eaton Collection into the libraries’ mission, budget support, overall operations, cataloging and processing of materials, preservation, community outreach, the university’s academic and research programs, and student use. Central to Mission Most important to integrating the Eaton Collection into the central fiber of the UC Riverside Libraries has been the libraries’ alignment of the collection’s mission with the goals of the university for academic excellence, premier scholarship in selected areas, and the development of interdisciplinary alliances across a spectrum of research centers, academic departments, and faculty groups. From the perspective of the libraries, showcasing the Eaton Collection as one of the campus’s most unique and valued collections has been successfully advanced over the past eight years in the following ways: (1) revitalizing the biennial Eaton Conference in 2008 after a 10-year hiatus, involving the University Libraries and the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) in the planning (2) providing curricular
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