Last March the Center held a conference of historians from North American universities and scholarly associations. The purpose of the conference was to help us determine how we could better serve the scholarly community. A report on the conference proceedings follows.
We were gratified, however, by the participating historians’ strong affirmation of the importance of the Center’s programs and collections. Conferees expressed passionate interest and support for the Center in phrases like “CRL is a lifeline” and “CRL is a unique resource.”
The Center exists to ensure the availability of materials for advanced scholarly research in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. We promote the development and preservation of a diverse and rich range of materials on which scholarly research depends: microfilm of the colonial archives of French Senegal; the back files of newspapers published by American ethnic communities; dissertations on the Islamic world produced by scholars at European universities; and much more. Today the Center functions as a conservancy, helping to ensure that a rich “biodiversity” of resources necessary for advanced research is preserved.
The staff and managers at the Center work very hard to accomplish this efficiently. This year CRL cataloging and metadata creation were re-engineered by our new head of technical services to optimize workflow efficiency and production. (70,000 foreign dissertations were cataloged since January, while keeping abreast of current receipts and reducing general collections backlogs.) Operations in acquisitions and international resources were also restructured to achieve maximum productivity with minimal overhead.
In addition the resources of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Council on Library and Information Resources, and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation were brought to bear on our efforts. Partnerships with these organizations are allowing us to advance a number of CRL initiatives and strengthen our capacity to serve CRL members in the future.
2002 has been a productive year for the Center, and we are very grateful to those institutions that through CRL membership sustain this vital enterprise from year to year. It is to the CRL member libraries and universities that the historians at our conference owe their thanks.