Guide to the Research Collections



The bibliographical tools of the field are well covered, although holdings are not comprehensive. In addition to Library Literature and Library Science Abstracts are indexing and abstracting services published in France, Hungary, Poland, Sweden, and the USSR. Another indication of this strength is the fact that the collection contains a very good representation of the guides, descriptions, surveys, check lists, etc., cited in American Library Resources: A Bibliographical Guide (1951) and its supplement (1962) by Robert B. Downs. The Dictionary Catalog of the library of the Columbia University School of Library Service is present, and the holdings of other printed library catalogs are good. For examples of the general catalogs issued by many American libraries in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, those from such academic and special libraries as the American Antiquarian Society, Boston Athenaeum, Columbia, Cornell and Harvard Universities, the John Crerar Library, Massachusetts Historical Society, the University of Michigan, and Wisconsin Historical Society might be cited. Catalogs, book bulletins, and published accession lists of public libraries have come from Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cleveland, Enoch Pratt (Baltimore), Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and some smaller cities. From abroad are similar publications from such university libraries as Coimbra, Leiden, Oslo, and Oxford, and from such public and national institutions as those in Bordeaux, Geneva, Rio de Janeiro, and Stockholm. A nearly complete collection of the sets of printed volumes issued in recent years which reproduce the card catalogs of major foreign and domestic collections is also available. Useful for reference purposes is a sizable group of some 200 directories which provide listings of libraries and librarians; about half are foreign publications, covering either individual countries or regions.

The collection of the most important American library periodicals--those indexed in Library Literature-- is strong. The library currently subscribes, with two or three exceptions, to the entire group (some 100 titles); in the large majority of cases it possesses a full file, while sets are complete for the remaining titles from the point at which the subscription began in the 1940s or 1950s. More selective coverage applies to foreign periodicals, but current subscriptions exceed 50 titles from about 25 countries. There are complete sets of such important journals as Accademie e biblioteche d'Italia, Archives et bibliothèques de Belgique, Bücherei und Bildung, Bulletin des bibliothèques de France, Indian Librarian, Libri, New Zealand Libraries, and Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen, but files of other titles may begin with recent years. The coverage of bulletins of library associations is good, especially those in the British Commonwealth.

Annual reports of American libraries constitute an important feature of the collection. However,

-------------------------------------------- page 25
in recent years many libraries have ceased publishing reports, or the Research Libraries have found it increasingly difficult to claim items which fail to arrive regularly. For instance, there are files for only about one-third of the institutions composing the Association of Research Libraries (those of some additional universities appear as part of the president's report); with some exceptions (e.g., Harvard, Stanford, Yale, the Huntington E. Hartford Library, and the Boston Public Library) these sets begin only in the 1950s. For large public libraries, such as those in Chicago, Los Angeles, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, files are complete since their founding. Deserving special mention are long runs of the reports of smaller municipal institutions in southern New England; this group includes Brookline, Fitchburg, Lancaster, Lawrence. Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Northampton, Quincy, Salem, Springfield, Watertown, and Worcester, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Hartford and Waterbury, Connecticut. Examples from smaller cities in other parts of the country are also present, but relatively few files extend to the present without gaps. Some 500 cities are represented in this group, with holdings ranging from a single report to a complete file. There are good files of the reports, journals and other publications of most state library agencies.

Holdings of library surveys are good, but not comprehensive. The Public Catalog contains about 225 entries under the heading "Library Surveys." With the exception of general works on survey methodology, most titles are reports of surveys of individual American public, college, and university libraries, generally undertaken since 1930. Among the authors represented are Robert B. Downs, Nelson Associates, Maurice F. Tauber, Joseph L. Wheeler, and Frederick Wezeman. There are a few studies not dealing with American institutions, nearly all of which refer to the British Commonwealth. These often cover library services in an entire country or portions of it, rather than those of an individual library.

More than 1,000 entries in the Public Catalog are listed for publications of the American Library Association. These include serial titles such as ALA Membership Directory, publications resulting from such special programs as the Library Technology Project; and the various reading lists and guides issued over the years. Few of the items which receive limited distribution, such as the minutes of the executive boards and processed publications of the divisions, are retained by the library.