Monday, October 30, 2006

What do YOU think about the Academic Commons?

All faculty and staff are cordially invited to an open meeting with the architects for the Academic Commons project on Tuesday, October 31, at noon in Room 443 in Mudd Center. Students are invited to attend at 4pm. Light refreshments will be provided.

Plans for the commons include centralized and coordinated research, information, technology, and learning assistance for Oberlin students as well as an adjacent café that provides academic community space.

For a description of the project, including preliminary designs, see:

The latest design drawing is available at:


Friday, October 27, 2006

10 Million Unique Titles and Counting

OhioLINK Library Catalog hit the 10,000,000 "unique titles" mark this month, with the addition of Mexican Modern: Masters of the 20th Century, essays by David Craven and Luis-Martin Lozano. It was added by The Ohio State University Libraries. The OhioLINK catalog includes more than 45.5 million books and other items from 84 member libraries around the state. Imagine shelves laid end to end, full of books, videos, scores, recordings, and other items stretching from Columbus to Portland, Maine, and you'll have a good idea of how many shelves are required to house 45.5 million items. A veritable treasure trove at your fingertips! Best of all, much of it is available to be requested and shipped to Oberlin's main library for your use. [Read more at OhioLINK's What's New].

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

End of an Era

Following more than a century of service, the Dewey card catalog, so named for the classification system used for the books represented in it, is being dismantled over fall break make room for the Mudd Center’s future Academic Commons. The Dewey catalog, which dates back to 1885, served as the library’s union catalog, listing materials in the main and departmental libraries until it was “frozen” in 1974 when the main library moved from Carnegie to the new Mudd Center and began using the Library of Congress classification system.

As no new cards had been added to the catalog in over 30 years, and virtually all of the information listed in it was converted into computerized format during a major retrospective cataloging project in the 1980s, the Dewey catalog has become increasingly outdated and inaccurate. Nevertheless, it provided a fascinating peek into the College’s early years, mirroring curricular trends, passing fads, and the sometimes arcane collecting interests of Oberlin librarians of yore. It revealed, through worn and stained cards, which subject areas were frequently consulted by patrons. As an artifact, the catalog also illustrated the history of librarianship, reflecting cataloging styles and methods over the decades, from the handwritten half-cards of the 19th century to the computer printed cards that began appearing in the early 1970s. Head of Special Collections and Preservation Librarian Ed Vermue has selected over 450 sections of catalog cards—-comprising approximately 120 drawers’ worth (a 7% sample)—-to save as a permanent archive in Special Collections.

Cards not selected for the catalog archive will be recycled or used for note cards. The Library of Congress catalog, the Dewey catalog’s smaller, late 20th century counterpart, was maintained from 1975 until it was “frozen” in the late 1980s. It was removed from the library in 1998. From the beginning, all of the records included in the LC catalog were duplicated in electronic format. The library installed its first online catalog in 1987 and the second generation of OBIS came online in 1995.

The library’s shelflist, a card file representing books owned by the library and filed in call number order, remains available in the library’s Monographs Dept. area as a record of each item still owned that is classified in the Dewey system.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

From Curio Cabinet to Digital Archive: New Life for the Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection

Linda Grimm, Associate Professor of Anthropology, will speak to the Friends of the Oberlin College Library on Wednesday, October 11 at 4:30pm in the Moffett Auditorium about the process of digitizing the Oberlin College Ethnographic Collection. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Journey Towards Hope

Oberlin Alumna Coriana Close '06 has mounted an exhibit of her photographs entitled "The Journey Towards Hope: A Pictorial History of Oberlin, Abolition, and the Underground Railroad," on the main level of the main library. The photos will be up through mid-October.