Public Annual Meeting Report, October 24, 2015
Francis D. Campbell Librarian, David Hill
I have been the ANS Librarian now for just about a year, and it is my pleasure to report on the activities that have taken place during that time.
In February we welcomed a new part-time cataloger, James Woodstock. James is here about nineteen hours a week and he brings with him many years of library experience, as well as a reading knowledge of Western European, Slavic, and some Asian languages, and also a bibliographic proficiency with Hebrew, Arabic, and Greek. His skills have been used to process the various multi-language materials that are always being added to the collections.
Some new materials have been purchased thanks to a new donor-supported Oriental Book Fund. Through it we have strengthened our Asiatic holdings with books for the most part found in the pages the Journal of the Oriental Numismatic Society. So far we have purchased new titles on the topics of Chinese gold and silver, Tibetan paper currency, money in traditional Korean society, the coinage of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Japanese trade issues, and coins of the Sasanian empire.
We are also thankful for the work of John Graffeo. Here John is sorting and filing auction prices-realized lists, but he really was most valuable to us as a cataloger. John came to the ANS in January as an intern working toward the completion of a masters degree in library and information science, with a background in rare book cataloging. This was a great opportunity for him to learn, and we benefited from the many books, articles, small pamphlets, and auction catalogs he added to our online catalog DONUM. Happily, we were able to keep John on a temporary, part-time basis after he finished his degree, and he contributed in particular to a new project, the scanning and online publication of certain late-nineteenth and earlier twentieth-century auction catalogs.
We began with 30 important early U.S. auction catalogs, scans of which are now linked through the library’s catalog DONUM. Our first priority were those rare early catalogs with plates. We then turned to John Adams’s book, United States Numismatic Literature, for guidance, scanning those judged to deserve a letter grade of A- or higher. Catalogs of Cogan, Strobridge, Haseltine, and Elder are among those included. In addition, we have worked with ANS publications director Andrew Reinhard on a special project to scan certain foreign auction catalogs featuring ancient coins, beginning with those of Cahn, Egger, Hirsch, and Naville. These will be sent offsite to a professional scanning service for digitization. We would like to thank ANS trustee Keith Barron for providing funding for this project.
Both of these projects call for the improvement of existing cataloging. John took our skeletal catalog records and greatly enhanced them, correcting errors and adding important details about the contents. In addition, these auction catalogs and others were barcoded, so they can be tracked as they are scanned both in-house and offsite. Eventually these digitized holdings will become part of ANS’s new digital library, which Andrew will mention in a moment.
A great many more of our holdings will be digitized in the coming year thanks to a pending partnership with the producers of the Newman Numismatic Portal, a new database providing access to full-text material on a free and forever basis through Internet Archive, a project funded by the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. ANS staff has met with the Portal’s project coordinator, Len Augsburger, to work out a plan whereby materials, beginning with U.S. auction catalogs, will be scanned on ANS premises at no cost to the Society.
The work on archival materials continues, including the processing of some recently donated materials. From Trinity College in Toronto we have received papers of archeologist and ANS president Louis West, which include research notes and drafts of his writings on East Mediterranean trade and numismatics. We are also grateful to U.S. large cent authority Del Bland for contributing more correspondence files to add to our already sizable collection of his earlier letters.
Some of the newly acquired materials have been processed by Library volunteer Arnie Tescher, whose contributions to the ongoing operation of the Library cannot be measured. Arnie helps out with day-to-day activities like scanning for researchers, but he also mends books, catalogs materials in the Archives, and updates our Archives catalog, ARCHER.
Arnie worked briefly in a book conservation laboratory, and one thing he did for us this year was to make protective boxes for many of the scrapbooks in the Archives collection. He also added detailed information about the scrapbooks to the Archives catalog.
In conjunction with this work on the scrapbooks, I took the opportunity to publish an article on the topic in ANS Magazine, discussing the place of the scrapbook in American history and highlighting the treasures that can be found in those of the ANS Archives. This includes one made for the ANS at Tiffanys, containing correspondence, drawings, and other materials relating to the dedication of Grant’s Tomb and an ANS medal struck for the occasion.
We continue to receive research inquiries daily in the Library, as well as visitors from all over the world. Recent library users have come to us from Egypt, Iran, and Australia. This is the general secretary and president of the Numismatic Society of Bangladesh.
Of course, I am sometimes a researcher myself, and often research questions will spark my own interests. This was the case when I was contacted some time ago by Merlin Holland, who happens to be Oscar Wilde’s first generation grandson. He was looking for information about A.H. Cooper-Prichard, who became our first paid librarian in 1911 and later an author of books relating to Wilde. The result was an article I wrote on several of my early twentieth-century predecessors.
I also wrote about ANS council member Robert Eidlitz for an upcoming issue of the magazine, discussing his collection of over 5,400 medals mostly relating to architects, and his book on the topic that was published in 1928. Eidlitz’s firm built Riverside Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and I was surprised to discover that there is a statue of him there near the gift shop, so I went up one weekend and got a photograph. He is on the right, standing with the project’s two architects.
Another long-time volunteer, Whitney Senzel, and a new one, Benjamin Tweed, contributed in a variety of ways, but mostly they worked on the Library’s pamphlet files, a single row of which are seen here. Interns and volunteers match pamphlets with catalog records, barcode them, and find problems such as duplicate records or those lacking catalog records. Everyone’s work on this project has resulted in the barcoding of well over 5,000 pamphlet files over the past year, with the number of overall items added to the catalog records at nearly 10,000 for the year. This includes over 250 new books, all requiring multiple steps of processing before they reach the shelves.
Here Benjamin is sorting and filing some issues of Coin World that we lacked, which came in a donation of numismatic newspapers and magazines by Gary French.
I am happy to report that these kinds of materials are continually received. Here are six boxes of fairly recent auction catalogs that we lacked, contributed by Pete Smith. They are from Heritage, Stacks and other firms, all of which will require the creation of individual catalog records.
We also were lucky to find another talented person to help with these projects. Yulia is another intern who earned college credit while working under my supervision. She was particularly helpful processing the new auction catalogs continuously received, as well as processing books and journals of the Newell Room Library, a specialized collection located in the ANS’s curatorial section.
With the continuous flow of materials into the Library we have to work to manage our space, which is becoming tight in some places. Over the last year we took the first step toward clearing some shelves of multivolume works deemed unnecessary. After some unsuccessful attempts to actually give these works away, we did find a firm who would take them off our hand with no shipping costs to us. The company, Juniper Books, repurposes the volumes to be used decoratively, sometimes putting new sleeves on them, as seen here.
As always, we want to sincerely thank the great many people who have donated to the library this year. Your contributions are always greatly appreciated.