Information Update - Fall 1998

First Phase of NEH Grant Concluded

The first phase of the National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant has successfully concluded. Thanks to the generosity of faculty, administration and staff; trustees, alumni, Friends of the Weinberg Memorial Library and corporations, The University of Scranton has succeeded in matching the ambitious amount targeted by the Challenge Grant. Additional matches are required for the remaining two years of the Grant.
 
The first phase of the grant had a number of goals for the immediate improvement of the collection. First was the acquisition of print and non-print media to address the new general education curriculum goals and identified gaps in the humanities collection by expending $57,000 for the purchase of approximately 950 humanities curriculum items. Faculty priorities for acquisition from Books by College Libraries, 3rd edition (BCL3) had been addressed through the Core Collection Development Project, a five year project that expended approximately $1.5 million for the purchase of monographs. NEH funds were expended for the development of resources to support specific courses. To list the faculty who participated in selecting materials and assessing the impact of these acquisitions would be to list the humanities faculty. (They can be recognized by the frequency with which they visit the New Book shelves.) Students provided input as a part of their research courses, a survey conducted at the commencement of the Core Project to generate a list of subject areas and titles students felt were inadequate, and an investigation of titles requested through interlibrary loan.
 
To support specific courses, Betsey Moylan, Reference Coordinator, generated a list of topics, historical figures, authors, artists and musicians by examining course contents described in the undergraduate and graduate catalogs. These events and persons went then researched in MLA, Philosopher's Index, and key reference works. The results of the searches were compared to Library holdings. Any titles lacking from the collection were identified as in-print or out-of-print by Michelle Peet, Reference Department. Narda Tafuri, Acquisitions Librarian, supported by Lori Dolph, Rita Williams, and Becky Brolan, were faced with the challenge of acquiring all identified titles within the grant time period.
 
The methodology had two results. The quality of the collection was strengthened so that faculty could he confident that topics addressed by the curriculum could he researched within the collection. Since databases owned by the Library were used as the source of citations, students would have a higher hit rate when they conducted research using these databases.
 
The second goal was the expenditure of $15,000 to acquire approximately 410 titles reflecting diverse cultural backgrounds. The success of this goal was apparent when students in Dr. Linda Ledford-Miller's classes expressed surprised satisfaction with the resources available for their research. Other cultures, languages and a broad overview of literature, art, music, philosophy, theology, and history from diverse points-of-view are represented.
 
The faculty in the Women's Studies Concentration were active in selecting materials for the completion of the third goal, the expenditure of $10,000 to acquire 200 titles for Women's Studies. The titles purchased reflect the interdisciplinary nature of this concentration of courses. Works include seminal works on women's and gender studies, autobiographies, and non-print/full-text resources including Contemporary Women's issues via the World Wide Web.
 
The fourth goal was the expenditure of $10,000 for the acquisition of approximately 230 items for Judaic Studies. The collection development plan for this subject area has been very effective; the Library now has an outstanding collection on Judaism, the history of the Jewish people, the role of women in Judaism and Jewish/Christian dialog. Key Jewish authors were identified and available works not already present in the collection were acquired for a course on Jewish literature. The Weinberg Memorial Library wrote a successful grant application to the Littaurer Foundation to further the goals of the Challenge Grant.
 
Helen Weiss and Maggie Restuccia, Interlibrary Loan, indicate that borrowing monographs has declined due to a combination of the NEH Challenge Grant and Core Collection Development Project. On the other hand the Weinberg Memorial Library collection is heavily used by residents of the area including high school students, members of the public and students of other colleges and universities. The University of Scranton is a 2 to 1 net lender nationally and 4 to 1 regional lender. The Weinberg Memorial Library is a net lender among Jesuit institutions with a 2 to 1 ratio. English students at Scranton Preparatory School receive instruction at the University of Scranton and conduct their research at the Weinberg Memorial Library.
 
Non print materials were specifically targeted with an allocation of $15,000 within the four goals. The amount actually expended was $18,000 for 145 items. Purchases included a full-text database, media targeted to specific courses and such interdisciplinary multimedia programs as Multicultural America which includes a photograph archive, encyclopedia-type entries and spoken word. According to Karen Heckman, NEH purchases enjoyed immediate use, a reassuring sign that they have been well-chosen.
 
As this description indicates, Library staff accomplished a huge volume of work with the addition of only one Technical Services Clerk, a one year part-time position funded by the grant. Subject area bibliographers were active in liaison work with academic faculty to select materials. Acquisitions scoured the globe via the World Wide Web, from Israel to Latin America, for available copies of important works. Cataloger, and librarians Joe Fennewald and Michelle Peet, supported by Mary Fran Galat, Lisa Vender and Jill Gorgas, used a note field in the cataloging record to record one of the four goal categories for each item. Margaret Craft, Assistant Director for Technical Services and Library Systems, and Narda Tahiti produced lists of materials on order, received and cataloged so that careful oversight of the grant monies could be maintained.
 
It has been an exciting project because the goals were so focused that the benefits were immediately apparent. The strength of a collection in any subject area is dependent on the continued acquisition of current publications. The Core Project was a retrospective development project that focused on purchasing materials lacking from the collection. The key aspect of the NEH Challenge Grant is that the hulk of the funds awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and matched by donors will he placed in an endowment fund that will continue to provide a source of secure funding so that a strong collection is not just for a moment in time but for the continued support of a fine quality humanities collection at The University of Scranton.
 
Bonnie Strohl
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition