Connecting Users with Special Collections Describing Rare Books without a Rare Book Cataloger

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Christa M. Strickler


Buswell Library at Wheaton College in Illinois faced a cataloging backlog of thousands of rare materials focusing on American and British Protestant evangelism and missions. Cataloging staff used creative thinking to solve challenges such as lack of staff time and expertise. We collaborated with special collections staff to determine specific user needs, then used our knowledge of metadata practices to meet those needs. Many complicated items appeared in the workflow, but we found creative ways to make them accessible. To communicate the project to the rest of the library, we presented at a staff meeting, explaining the types of materials cataloged and sharing tips for searching for them. The project significantly increased the amount of special collections items cataloged annually and allowed us to connect faculty and students with our valuable research materials.

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