This week we introduce a new occasional feature — articles designed to familiarize readers with the many departments at NEHGS. We begin with a profile of Technical Services, written by department director Lynne Burke.
The Library Technical Services has been called “the heart of the library.” Three reasons for that assessment might be: acquisitions, access, and conservation.
Acquisition of printed library materials, microforms, and electronic resources is handled by Technical Services staff, with recommendations eagerly sought from all NEHGS staff and members. Donations of library materials arrive in Technical Services on a daily basis; email OTugarina@nehgs.org for instructions on how to donate. Single items or cartons of books from our generous members are acknowledged and checked against our collections. Duplicate items are offered for sale in the used book section of the Society’s book shop or online, with the permission of the donors.
Once acquired, an item is cataloged in the online library catalog, where it is described and searchable terms are added to its record to make it easy to find. It is then given a call number label and a book plate naming the donor or the fund that was used for the purchase, and added to the shelves of the research library.
The library is also happy to accept donations of electronic versions of books (preferably in PDF format), which we can add to our Digital Library for members to access online from home. Titles which may be placed in the Digital Library include those that are out of copyright and those for which the author is the donor and gives us permission. Electronic files may be donated either on CD/DVD or by email to TechServices@nehgs.org.
The research library has more than 800 serial titles in its collection. Ordering, tracking, and binding issues into volumes are all handled by Technical Services. We also locate back issues and keep up-to-date on changing titles, periodicals that are no longer published, and new titles that would be of interest to our patrons.
Technical Services is also responsible for acquiring subscriptions to online databases for our members to use here at the library or, in the case of some databases, via our website AmericanAncestors.org.
The NEHGS research collection has been in constant use since 1845, with many books published in the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Conservation of this collection is a very important part of Technical Services work. Paper repair is a painstaking process. Fortunately, a variety of conservation treatments are available today. In addition, we can scan fragile materials to make high-quality print copies that can be used by library patrons. Conservation of manuscripts, samplers, and other works of art is performed in house by our Conservation Technician. Library Technical Services has four full-time staff, as well as several volunteers and interns, all striving to provide easy access to materials in the research library. Our biggest challenge is to find enough space in which to fit our ever-growing collections, but we see this as a happy dilemma.