Friday, 7 March 2014

Special Collections - SILS - UCD - Feb 12, 2014

I attended this seminar with my Humanities Liaison hat on. It has been a while since I had an opportunity to look into the ephemera, newspaper etc holdings of the National Library of Ireland and TCD especially. The seminar was a good way to get back up to speed on the availability of materials online and in print.
Highlights are listed below.

Elizabeth Connolly - NLI


The Prints and drawings department has +170,000 items. 
Formats include cards, menus, business cards, postcards, advertisements, bill heads, street ballads, calendars. it is a particularly rich resource for Irish politics (ie both sides of the civil war) and Irish theatre history. (Holloway collection - theater programmes etc 1880-1944)

50 colour World War 1 recruitment posters are held.
An anti-conscription pledge
Items relating to the 1916 rising - the proclamation of martial law
The focus of  accessioning and digitization has been materials c. 100 years old, as part of preparations for the centenary of 1916. Daily releases of digitized materials happen. 

There are some 17th century materials, may of which have been added by donation, and paid acquisition. 
The Lo folders include materials from the 17th-19th century including the times of the 1798 rebellion 1715 Smock Alley playbills. 1806 recruitment poster for the British Army - as gaeilge. 

Digitized items are available via the library's online catalogue and flickr page.  
  1. . click digitized items only, and EPH as call no in keyword search.
  2. from NLI on flickr commons have no copyright restrictions.
    1.  Commons photostream are available for research for a non-commercial purpose or private study. When using the images, please credit the National Library of Ireland and include the catalogue reference number of the item to help others access the original image or document.
      1. See: 
      2. and 

Justin Furlong - Newspapers

Newspapers are the single most used collection at NLI, and are covered by the legal deposit arrangement.9 Except electronic copies which are not covered by legal deposit at the moment)
Summary holdings:
c.1818 titles, 250 current
+38,000 microfilm rolls, 3,900 created in-house (retain copyright @NLI)
Types of holdings: 
National, Regional, topical (sport, agriculture, politics etc.) 
  • ie Argentian Southern cross held since the 19th Century. Polish Irish papers, Chinese Irish paper etc. 
1616 = earliest newspaper.
Papers are held - all editions, no value judgement,

Currently a report is under consideration with the government regarding legal deposit and electronic publications. 
Newspapers are also added via purchase and donations like the Joly collection. (1877)

Access to some online subscription newspaper services is available from within the library building itself.  

External philanthropy may be needed to allow for the conversion of the older newspapers to digital format, as the current focus of these activities is on unique items and ephemera in the library collection. 

There are large storage requirements for the collection, growing annually, although for conservation purposes volumes are no longer bound. 
See more on the NLI blog - Newspapers 

There is a separate newspaper database (sql & php interface), which will merge with the LMS (Virtus from VTLS)  in the future. 

Evelyn Flanagan - UCD Special Collections

UCD has 2.5 staff in the Special Collections department. 
Holdings of interest include: 
Incunabula 1450-1500
20th century - limited editions (1st, short print runs) 
  • example: 1st ed. Ulysses signed by author.
Strenghts include veterinary and architecture subject areas, from inherited collections of colleges subsumed into UCD. 
Special Collections items are now considered to be <1930 rather then 1850 (end of hand press era)

Cataloguing allows librarian's to familiarize themselves with the collections, and create access points for researchers. 
An important aspect of the role is to balance preservation and access. Surrogates are available online for many titles. 
  • A subscription to early printed books online is part of this strategy. 
  • Google Books also provides access to some 19th Century tomes. 
  • Internet archive does too 
  • Project Gutenberg titles 
  • UCD digital library 
  • CELT (Irish history, literature and politics 
  • Irish script on screen
  • Ask about Ireland 
  • Villanova - digital preservation of publishing in Irish America.
In relation to preservation popular items tend to be digitized like items relating to the 1916 rising. (Special Collections, Archives Department and the National Folklore Collection)

Remember though that sometimes the physical item is more than the sum of it's parts. It can be an artifact in and of itself. The type of paper used, the typeface, the binding, materials and plates can all add tot he physical item in ways that may not be discernible with the electronic surrogate. This is an important consideration for scholarship. 

Acquisition sources include Mealey's and de Burca's as well as donations and gifts. 

Shane Mawe - TCD - department of early printed books and special collections

It is important to remember that the Long Room is a working library, with c.300,000 itesm, 
1950 is now the cut off for special collection items. 
c200,000 items are in the Santry store. 
Staffing is 3.5 > sometimes called into service for the libraries at large
The department has a small budget with a large responsibility 

350,000 of 400,000 items from the printed catalogue have been converted to online format as part of a Mellon Foundation funded project.

Outreach is a very important part of what the department does. As with UCD's Special Collections marketing the availability of the collection and making accessing materials easy. They also build links with other institutions,
Exhibtions and promotional activities include displaying research materials with value at a national level.
TCD has received many donations over the years and there is still a significant backlog, so much so that they can't take large donations at the moment. The reading room has 16 seats and c5,000 readers. .

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