Books, Cataloging, Visibility, and Access
While CBI has long been known for the strength of its archival collections – the personal papers and organizational records of individuals and groups that have made profound advancements in computing – in recent years we have enhanced our holdings with the addition of several significant collections of books (including notable ones from the Tomash, Mahoney, Cortada, and Machover collections: see “News from the Archives,” CBI Newsletter 31 no.2, Fall 2009). In order to provide access to new book collections in as timely a fashion as possible, we have employed archival finding aids – a detailed list that typically describes the structure and content of archival collections – in place of traditional book cataloging. Finding aids provide some great benefits to book collections. They provide a complete overview of a collection “at a glance” instead of one at a time as individual records in a catalog that might contain thousands and millions of titles. They can also provide biographies of the persons or histories of the organizations that formed the collections, describing the work that they did and providing critical contextual information regarding the formation of the collection. Yet, for these advantages they do not replace traditional catalog records, which can provide more detailed records about individual titles and which are shared nationally and globally through online “union catalogs” such as WorldCat. We are very excited to announce that the University Libraries have selected CBI’s new, great book collections for a special initiative to expand the visibility and accessibility of these materials. Work began early in March and is expected to go for several months. We will provide an update of progress made in the next newsletter!
Sharing CBI’s Resources with Broad Communities
As a collection dedicated to the history of computing and information technology, it is no surprise that CBI attracts a lot of historians of technology. Materials contained here, however, have appeal to a wide variety of audiences. The Control Data Corporation Records (CBI 80) contains correspondence, news clippings, and press releases that bring controversies and concerns of the Cold War to life. The Edmund C. Berkeley Papers (CBI 50) highlight significant global issues of the 20th century, including genocide and the specter of thermonuclear war. The Burroughs Corporation Records (CBI 90) contains nearly one hundred years of advertising samples, organized by year, that demonstrate both shifting and persistent corporate values. The still new “Social Issues in Computing Collection” of books, journals, pamphlets, “zines,” and other print resources highlights the evolving hopes and fears sparked in the general populace and specific communities by the perceived promises and threats of the industry. The CBI Archives and Library staff has had opportunities in recent weeks to showcase these materials to groups as diverse as graduate students in Rhetoric and Writing Studies and to the Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries and the Loft Literary Center. It is thrilling when people who thought that technological history was outside of their areas of expertise or interest realize that CBI can tell exciting stories of the profound impacts that the industry and its champions have made in the lives of real people and communities.