Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Fund Established to Expand Facilities for the Archives and Special Collections

A new fund has been created to expand the facilities for the University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections. And your help is needed.

As many students and faculty will attest, the shelves in the Archives and Special Collections are filled with signature collections and rich research materials for researchers to explore and use to achieve academic success or just for personal growth. In fact, the shelves are almost at total capacity, leaving little space for new collections that would benefit students and scholars for generations to come.

Converting these valuable resources to digital format for improved accessibility and increased use is a primary objective of the University Libraries’ strategic plan for digital initiatives. Because of the unique and sometimes rare characteristics of special collections, retaining the original documents is essential. So even though digital use copies are created, the issue of storage space for original documents is not necessarily solved.

While some of the donated materials that come to the Archives are either born-digital or digital surrogates, the vast volume of documentation is still in paper format when it arrives. In order to continue to acquire research materials that can be digitized and made available globally through Ball State’s Digital Media Repository, it is necessary to house the original materials to be digitized.

In addition, we have an ethical responsibility to the donors of the materials to preserve their original records. While some hard decisions are often necessary concerning acquisitions and donations, de-accessioning gifts from donors is a much more complicated process from ethical and often legal aspects than the typical weeding process that a library conducts with its book, journal, and media collections.

So with space running out and a responsibility to acquire important new collections to support learning, teaching, and research, where does Archives and Special Collections go from here? That is where the new Archives and Special Collections Facilities and Development Fund comes in. It is also how you can help us to achieve our vision of expanding our facilities.

Financial gifts to the Archives and Special Collections Facilities and Development Fund (#5114) will support construction expenses to renovate about 1,100 square feet of space to make it part of the Archives and Special Collections. We estimate a cost of about $140,000 for this important project.

Dr. David J. Ulbrich, formerly of the Ball State History Department and soon to begin in the History Department at Ohio University, recently made the initial gift to establish the fund. Additional generous founding contributions have been made by Dr. Arthur W. Hafner, Dean of University Libraries, Sharon A. Roberts, Assistant Dean for Collection Resources Management, and John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections.

Dr. Ulbrich has worked with the Archives and Special Collections on grant projects to record and preserve veterans’ oral histories, including a project to establish the 376th Heavy Bombardment Group archives at Ball State. That collection is an example of the historically significant materials that the Archives and Special Collections can add to its holdings to support the academic pursuits of students and faculty if the unit’s storage space can be increased.

The newly established fund will support renovation of about 1,100 square feet of space that is immediately adjacent (to the west) of the Archives and Special Collections. Your support is vital. Please contact John B. Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections,, 765-285-5078.


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