PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative

Monthly Updates

Each month we post an update on the project's progress and current activities.

January and February 2009

We've posted the audio and presentations from "Something New for Something Old." (A big thank you to John Anderies at Haverford College for agreeing to host the files.) You can download individual files from the conference schedule page or subscribe to the entire audio series as a podcast at http://www.pacsclsurvey.org/snso.xml.

The PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative officially concluded at the end of February. Its successor, the Consortial Cataloging and Processing Initiative funded by the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR), is gearing up and PACSCL is recruiting for two professional positions, the Project Manager and Project Archivist. (Prospective candidates can apply via the University of Pennsylvania's Jobs site.)

In the interim period before the CLIR project staff are hired, Christine, who has accepted a position as Archivist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, is happy to continue to respond to queries about the survey project and database. She can be reached at cdibella@gmail.com.

December 2008

Our conference, "Something New for Something Old: Innovative Approaches to Managing Archives and Special Collections", was a smashing success. One hundred and twenty-five special collections professionals came together to discuss our common challenges and learn from each other. Presentations and audio from the conference will be available on our website in early 2009.

We received word that PACSCL's propsal to the Council on Library and Information Resources Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant program was accepted. PACSCL's two-year project will enable 24 members institutions to catalog and process many of the collections surveyed during the current project, beginning in March 2009.

Sadly, amidst all this excitement, we also had to say goodbye to our two wonderful surveyors, John Armstrong and Jenny Barr, whose work on the over 2,100 collections in the survey made it all possible. We wish them well in their future endeavors. Christine, who went on maternity leave in late November, will be returning in mid-January to wrap up the current project.

November 2008

We finished up at the Athenaeum and then set to work tying up loose ends for the project and preparing for the "Something New for Something Old: Innovative Approaches to Managing Archives and Special Collections" conference.

October 2008

We finished up at the Independence Seaport Museum and began surveying at our 22nd and final institution, the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, this month. We also conducted a training session for staff and student workers at the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia. As of October 31, we have surveyed 2,100 collections totaling over 19,400 linear feet.

September 2008

The website for the project-end conference is up. It currently features the schedule and speaker biographies and we'll be adding to it in the weeks leading up to the December 4-5 event. Space is very limited, so we encourage you to register early if you would like to attend.

This month we finished surveying at Villanova and returned to the Independence Seaport Museum to begin working on the remaining collections there. As of September 26, we've surveyed 2,036 collections totaling over 19,200 linear feet in 21 institutions.

August 2008

We wanted to alert you to a very exciting event being planned to celebrate the upcoming conclusion of the Consortial Survey. We've put together a two-day conference addressing creative methods to improve management, preservation, and access for archives and special collections materials. Co-sponsored by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), "Something New for Something Old: Innovative Approaches to Managing Archives and Special Collections" will take place at the Union League of Philadelphia from December 4-5, 2008. We've lined up a stellar group of speakers, who will speak on panels covering the broad themes of Collection Management, Cataloging and Description, Processing, Digitization, and Infrastructure. The conference will also feature an evening reception at the Library Company of Philadelphia and numerous opportunities to participate in discussions around these important issues. There will be nominal registration fees for PACSCL and non-PACSCL attendees, and space will be limited. A conference website and more details will be available shortly. Please contact Christine at cdibella@hsp.org if you would like more information before then.

We completed surveying at the Free Library of Philadelphia and began work at Villanova University this month. As of August 28, we have surveyed 1,948 collections totaling nearly 19,000 linear feet. (Only four months remain in the project.)

July 2008

Our main activity this month was surveying in the various special collections of the Free Library of Philadelphia, including the Rare Book Department, the Map Collection, the Print and Picture Collection, and the manuscript collections of the Children's Literature Research Collection. We also held a small survey training session with the archivists from the University of Pennsylvania Law Library and Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. As of July 31, we have surveyed 1,879 collections totaling over 18,400 linear feet since the start of the project.

June 2008

One of the useful features that we built into the survey database was the capability to generate, with an assist from the wonderful freeware program MarcEdit, a collection-level MARC record for a surveyed collection that people could import into OCLC and their local catalogs. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has now loaded into OCLC and the historical society catalog over 130 records for surveyed collections that were once part of the holdings of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, quickly providing widespread access to collections that were previously "hidden" to people outside the institution. An example of one of these records from WorldCat is located here. If you're participating in the project and thinking about taking this step, please contact Christine for more information on just how simple this process is.

We had a varied month of surveying. We finished up work with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Union League collections, and then did short stints of surveying at Temple University's Urban Archives and the Independence Seaport Museum. As of June 27, we have surveyed 1,819 collections totaling over 16,600 linear feet since the start of the project.

May 2008

Christine is headed for Chicago in mid-June to meet with Tamar Evangelistia-Dougherty, Archivist of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC), and members from a number of BMRC institutions to discuss and demonstrate the survey method. The BMRC has receiving a planning grant from the Mellon Foundation to develop a consortium-wide survey of collections related to African American history in the Chicago Metropolitan area, using the PACSCL survey as a model. We are very excited about this important effort and look forward to future collaboration with this dynamic group.

This month we started, and nearly completed, surveying at two of the remaining six institutions, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Union League of Philadelphia (whose archival collections are temporarily being stored at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania while the League undergoes renovations). As of May 30, we have surveyed 1,790 collections totaling over 15,000 linear feet since the start of the project.

April 2008

We spent the month surveying at the Presbyterian Historical Society, and are nearly finished. As of April 30, we have surveyed 1,733 collections totaling over 14,250 linear feet at 16 institutions during the project. (Only 6 institutions remain.)

March 2008

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) recently announced an exciting national initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation to improve access to hidden collections. The announcement is available here. PACSCL is beginning discussions on a collaborative processing and cataloging proposal that would build on the work of the Consortial Survey. More information on how PACSCL members can get involved will be available soon, but please feel free contact Christine if you have particular ideas or suggestions at this point.

We began work at the Presbyterian Historical Society this month. As of March 28, we have surveyed 1,550 collections totaling over 13,330 linear feet since the start of the project.

February 2008

The ranks of the project staff have swelled recently. Josie Smith has joined us as an intern for the semester and will be assisting with surveying at several sites. She is currently a Master's degree candidate in Library Science at Drexel University working towards a concentration in Archives and Special Collections. Josie had previously completed an internship at the Library Company working on several collections we surveyed there, so we're particularly pleased with this bit of PACSCL synergy! We also thank Lynn Durgin, a recent graduate from the Pratt Institute who is leaving us for a full-time position in archives, for her able assistance this month.

We're in the process of finishing up surveying at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and also coming to the end of work on the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania collections held by The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. As of February 27, we've surveyed 1,466 collections totaling over 12,000 linear feet in 15 institutions since the start of the project.

January 2008

The next group training session for participants in the project will be on February 12 from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. If your institution is participating in the project, please contact Christine at cdibella@hsp.org by February 8 if you would like to attend.

We started off the year by completing surveying at the University of Pennsylvania. We now set our sights on the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. As of January 23, we have surveyed 1,304 collections totaling over 11,000 linear feet.

December 2007

December marks an e-milestone - the one year anniversary of our website and, consequently, the one year anniversary of our monthly updates. Reading back on them, we're very pleased with all of the progress we've made over the past year. We look forward to sharing more news with you in 2008!

In staffing news, we've posted an internship with the survey project for the spring semester. The intern will assist with assessing archival collections at one or more area institutions and other project activities. If you are a graduate student or recent grad currently looking for an internship for next semester, or know someone who is, please take a look at the internship description and requirements, available here. Questions and applications may be directed to Christine at cdibella@hsp.org.

We continued to survey a diverse range of collections at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as genealogical collections at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, this month. As of December 20, we've surveyed 1,230 collections totaling over 10,300 linear feet at 14 institutions since the start of the project.

November 2007

All news is survey news this month. We finished up at Temple University's Special Collections, surveyed a small number of collections in Temple's Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, and started at the University of Pennsylvania's Rare Book & Manuscript Library. We also continue to make progress on genealogical collections at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. In all, as of November 15, we've surveyed 1,078 collections totaling over 9,700 linear feet since the start of the project.

October 2007

As part of ongoing discussions of plans for the future of the survey data, we'll be hosting a demo of the Archivists' Toolkit on November 7 at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. If you're a member of a PACSCL institution and would like to attend, please contact Christine at cdibella@hsp.org.

Thanks to all who attended the DVAG meeting at Haverford College on October 18. We've posted the presentation to the documentation section of this website for those of you who couldn't join us.

In surveying news, we're finishing up surveying at Temple University and also surveying genealogical collections at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. As of October 26, we've surveyed 994 collections totaling over 8,500 linear feet.

September 2007

As mentioned previously, the project will be the subject of the October 18 meeting of the Delaware Valley Archivists Group (DVAG). The meeting will be held in Haverford College's Chase Auditorium from 3:00-4:30 p.m. All three project staff will be on hand to discuss the survey experience, as will representatives from the University of Delaware, Haverford College, and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Announcements will be sent to the DVAG and PACSCL lists, but all are welcome. Please RSVP to Christine at cdibella@hsp.org if you would like to attend or if you have questions.

Speaking of presentations, the poster on the project from the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists conference is now linked from the documentation and links page of this website. Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

In survey news, we've officially passed the one year mark for surveying of collections. We finished up at the Academy of Natural Sciences and now set out for Temple University. As of September 21, we've surveyed 924 collections totaling over 7,150 linear feet.

August 2007

This month we're pleased to announce the launch of the public interface for the survey database. You can access it at http://www.pacsclsurvey.org/search.html or by clicking any of the "Find Collections" links on this website.

The database includes selected records for unprocessed and underprocessed collections surveyed during the current project and the 2000-2002 Mellon-funded survey of collections held by The Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Library Company of Philadelphia. The database currently features collections from eight participating institutions and more institutions (and collections) will be added on a regular basis.

Questions about individual collections in the database should be directed to the holding repository; please note that access may be limited pending further processing. If you have questions about or suggestions for the database, please contact Christine at cdibella@hsp.org. All feedback is very welcome.

In survey news, we're in the midst of surveying at the Academy of Natural Sciences, the twelfth institution of the project. As of August 23, we have surveyed 876 collections totaling over 6,200 linear feet.

July 2007

One of our goals for the duration of the project is to disseminate information about what we're doing and the tools we're using more widely. We'll be giving a number of presentations in the coming months, and we have two events scheduled for the relatively near future.

Christine will be giving a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists in Chicago. The poster will be on display from August 30 through September 1 and Christine will also be available at various times to answer questions and provide more information. If you'll be at the meeting,please stop by, or contact Christine at cdibella@hsp.org if you'd like to arrange a specific time to talk.

All three project staff will be on hand when the project is the subject of the October 18 meeting of the Delaware Valley Archivists Group. The meeting will take place at Haverford College from 3:00-4:30 p.m. and all are welcome. More information on the DVAG meeting will be available closer to the date.

As much as possible, we'll be posting information from the presentations we give to the documentation section of this website, but please contact Christine if you'd like more information. We also welcome suggestions (or invitations!) of groups that might be interested in learning more about the survey project.

In survey news, we finished up surveying at the University of Delaware and now move on to the Academy of Natural Sciences, the twelfth institution of the project. As of July 20, we have surveyed 769 collections totaling over 5,600 linear feet.

June 2007

We made our first foray into interstate surveying this month as we began our stint at the University of Delaware's Special Collections. This marks the eleventh institution we've visited for surveying so far. (Check out the annotated Google map we created for a complete rundown.) As of June 25, we've surveyed 633 collections totaling nearly 5,200 linear feet.

A number of people have told us that they're regular readers of the Surveyors' Blog and some have said they'd like to participate. So we've made it easier to comments on blog entries -- we'd love to hear your views on any topic we've covered in the blog, or any other topic, for that matter. We're also looking for additional authors, so if you're participating in the project and would like to write about the experience and what you're doing with your surveyed collections please contact Christine at cdibella@hsp.org about joining us. Both occasional and more frequent contributors are very welcome.

For those of you who weren't able to join us, we've posted the presentation from the May 22 planning meeting to the documentation section of this website. The presentation includes both a progress report on the first year of the project as well as some results from the online survey we conducted prior to the meeting. We'll be adding more presentations and reports in the months to come.

May 2007

We're pleased to welcome two institutions to the Consortial Survey Initiative, Independence Seaport Museum and the Abraham Lincoln Foundation of the Union League of Philadelphia. We look forward to surveying their collections later in the project.

Thanks to all of you who attended our very successful participant meeting on May 22 to discuss various issues related to the project, including providing broader access to information on the surveyed collections. In response to the discussions, we'll be working on a number of things in the coming months, including a public version of the survey database and an interactive forum where participants can talk about their survey experiences and questions. More details will be available in future updates.

We're hosting the next group training session for institutions participating in the project on Wednesday, June 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. During the training participants will be introduced to the survey methodology and the project database and survey example collections as part of a team. Anyone from the institutions participating in the project who would like to attend is welcome, whether or not they will be involved with the surveying of collections during the project. Members of participating institutions who would like to attend the June session should RSVP to cdibella@hsp.org by Monday, June 4.

In survey news we started and completed surveying at our tenth institution, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, in addition to finishing up at the Library Company. As of May 29, we've surveyed 585 collections totaling over 4,600 linear feet since the project began.

April 2007

In April we've been working through surveying small numbers of collections at the Rosenbach Museum & Library, the Library Company, the American Philosophical Society, and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. As of April 25, we've surveyed 498 collections totaling nearly 4,000 linear feet in nine institutions.

The meeting of project participants to discuss planning for the second year and beyond of the PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative will take place on May 22 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. More information, including an online survey on a variety of topics, will be available soon.

This month we're launching a new web feature, the Surveyors' Blog. The blog will discuss intriguing people, places, and collections we've encountered in the course of the project. The blog is also a place for us to ruminate on the bigger questions surveying provokes. Please visit the blog at http://pacsclsurvey.blogspot.com.

March 2007

We've made some recent enhancements to the survey database to enable project participants to more easily export data for use in other tools and systems. Project participants can now:

  • Export full records in a number of file formats supported by FileMaker Pro (including tab-delimited text and Excel files).
  • Export collection descriptions in HTML for use on webpages.
  • Export collection descriptions as a PDF file for use on webpages or printouts.
  • Export collection-level MARC records (processed through a freeware program called MarcEdit) that can be imported into your library management system or converted into MARCXML or MODS.
  • Export a collection-level EAD finding aid that can be used with your own stylesheets or those developed in the earlier PACSCL EAD project.

Instructions for these export functions have been incorporated into the next version of the database documentation available on this site. If you would like a demonstration, or if you would like to discuss further customization of any of these functions, please contact Christine at cdibella@hsp.org. (Special thanks go to consultant Linda Bills for her assistance with the MARC functionality.)

In survey news, the project team surveyed collections at the Library Company and American Philosophical Society this month. As of March 19, we've surveyed 451 collections totaling over 3,000 linear feet in eight institutions.

We're nearing the one year anniversary of last year's kickoff meeting celebrating the official start of project work. As such, it seems like a good time to come together again to discuss the project's progress and plans for using the compiled data. More information on plans for this meeting, to which all project participants will be invited, will be available soon.

To make it easier for you to keep up with our updates, we've added an RSS feed for this page. Click the link at the bottom of this page to begin subscribing.

February 2007

We're hosting the next group training session for institutions participating in the project on Wednesday, February 28, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. During the training participants will be introduced to the survey methodology and the project database and survey example collections as part of a team. Anyone from the institutions participating in the project who would like to attend is welcome, whether or not they will be involved with the surveying of collections during the project. Members of participating institutions who would like to attend the February session should RSVP to cdibella@hsp.org by Monday, February 26.

As many people know, the direct model for the PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative is the Mellon-funded collections assessment project based at The Historical Society of Pennsylvania from 2000-2002. In addition to comprehensively surveying HSP's holdings, because of an agreement between the two institutions in which the Library Company's manuscript holdings are on deposit at HSP, that project also assessed a number of collections belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia. With the help of staff at the Library Company and HSP, we've loaded 243 of those collection records into the PACSCL Consortial Survey Database in order to improve intellectual access to the collections. This coincides with the PACSCL survey team beginning work on additional Library Company collections later this month.

Earlier in February we rounded out our stay at the Tri-Colleges when we surveyed a small number of Quaker collections and College Archives record groups at Swarthmore College's Friends Historical Library. As of February 21, the project team has surveyed a total of 405 collections comprising over 2,735 linear feet from six PACSCL member institutions in the current project.

January 2007

This month has been focused primarily on surveying at Haverford College. We've been assessing unprocessed Quaker family papers, Quaker organizational collections and personal papers of Haverford faculty and alumni. As of January 29, the project team has surveyed a total of 385 collections comprising over 2600 linear feet from five PACSCL member institutions.

Plans are in the works for the next group training session for project participants, which will take place in February. During the training participants will be introduced to the survey methodology and the project database, and survey example collections as part of a team. More information, including the date and time, will be available soon.

December 2006

The project website was launched in early December. The website is intended to be the central source for information on the project, including documentation. If you have comments or suggestions for the project website, please contact Christine Di Bella (cdibella@hsp.org).

After completing surveying at the Wagner Free Institute of Science and the Chemical Heritage Foundation earlier in the fall, the project team is currently surveying at Bryn Mawr College. As of December 1, we have surveyed 255 collections totaling over 1,300 linear feet.

The survey database is now available to project participants. (Public access to collection information will be available later in the project.) There are two ways to access the database. The fullest access is provided through a FileMaker Pro client. Access is also available via a web browser. Additional information on each of these access methods and how to use the database is available in the Guide to the PACSCL Consortial Survey Database. Please contact Christine for your institution's database account information or to order a copy of FileMaker Pro.

Homelast updated March 15, 2009, © 2006-2009, PACSCL Consortial Survey Initiative