Spring 1997

Library staff seeks preservation and access grants

The staff of the South Caroliniana Library continues to seek sources of grant funding for projects relating to preservation and access. In July 1996, Manuscripts Librarian Henry Fulmer and Assistant Manuscripts Librarian Beth Bilderback submitted two proposals to the National Endowment for the Humanities' (NEH) Division of Preservation and Access. A separate proposal submitted to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) in October 1996 will be considered at their February 1997 meeting. The fate of all three applications should be known by April 1997.

Both NEH proposals are revisions of applications first submitted in July 1995. Though they were not funded at that time, each received positive endorsements from reviewers, and the funding agency strongly suggested that they be resubmitted. "Cultural Imaging: A Project to Enhance Preservation and Access to the Photographic Collection of the South Caroliniana Library" would initiate a preservation and access program for the Library's rich collection of 20,000 historic photographs and 3,000 negatives dating from the 1850s to the present. Goals are three-fold: to ensure long-range preservation of the collection through rehousing in materials suitable for archival storage; to improve access through automation by loading electronic descriptions of each image or group of images into the University of South Carolina's online public access catalog (USCAN); and to develop a comprehensive preservation plan for the photographic collection, including short-term and long-term recommendations from a consulting photograph conservator.

The second NEH application, "Cultural Crossroads: 18th- and 19th-Century Plantation Systems and Social Order in South Carolina, A Project to Preserve and Enhance Access to Manuscript Collections," would enhance preservation and access to 725 manuscript collections, among which are the library's most frequently consulted 18th- and 19th-century materials documenting the origins and development of the Palmetto State's plantation-based social and economic system and the institution of slavery that supported it. The project has three main goals: to stabilize their micro-environment by rehousing items using archival materials; to enhance intellectual control through the revision or production of collection inventories and descriptions; and to increase access by loading collection-level descriptions to USCAN and OCLC, a national bibliographic database. The NHPRC proposal, "Accessing the Emerging South: A Project to Enhance Access to Unprocessed Manuscript Collections in the South Caroliniana Library," is designed to provide appropriate physical and intellectual access to large collections held in the library's backlog of heretofore unprocessed manuscript materials. The collections identified for this project would take too much time to be arranged and described by the library staff without outside assistance. Each is estimated to require in excess of 200 hours of processing time, the equivalent, on average, of a full-time employee's entire attention for two months. Project goals call for materials to be sorted to the file or item level and physically rehoused in archival folders and boxes. In addition, detailed inventories will be prepared and collection-level machine-readable catalog records will be loaded to USCAN and the OCLC database.

The Library's Books Division has been selected to participate in a SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Preservation Microfilming Project which is awaiting funding approval from NEH. If approved, the project will fund preservation microfilming of approximately 800 catalogs from South Carolina colleges and academies plus some fifty 19th-century language and literature monographs from the University's South Carolina College collection.

Past grants received by the library include a three-year award from NEH that made possible the South Carolina Newspaper Project and two one-year grants from NHPRC that funded the initial phases of retrospective conversion of the Manuscripts Division's card catalog to electronic format.

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