AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXVI, No. 2, Fall 1994

 

INTERNATIONAL CATALOG OF SOURCES GROWS RAPIDLY


The AIP Center for History of Physics has made excellent progress in gathering new and updated information on physics-related collections preserved in repositories and in private hands around the world. The aim is to expand and automate the Center's International Catalog of Sources for the History of Physics and Allied Sciences (ICOS), and share the data with the online Research Libraries' Information Network. A continuation grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities has now been awarded to support the final stages of this massive task.

When the ICOS expansion project began in 1989, with grants from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the catalog consisted of handwritten cards with information on approximately 1,500 collections. Through review of archival directories and surveys we have more than doubled the collections we know of in foreign and domestic repositories, and updated information on many others. So far we have learned about 1,895 collections entirely new to the ICOS and have received updated information on 1,371 collections (for further information see the Fall 1993 issue of this Newsletter).

The success of the survey phase of the ICOS project created an unexpectedly large backlog of records to be cataloged in the Center's database (on Minaret, a specialized archival system). These would then be uploaded into the Research Libraries Group's national online database, RLIN-AMC. Fully processing the survey responses has been a labor-intensive procedure including transferring information from paper to automated format (using Library of Congress MARC- AMC standards for cataloging), "authority" work to ensure consistency in names and topics, indexing and proofreading.

Since the completion of the original grants for this project work has continued on the ICOS using AIP funds. During the past year and a half the cataloging of survey responses received from Australia (194 records), Israel (17), Italy (25), former Soviet Union (50), the UK and Ireland (378), Norway (36), and Sweden (36), have been completed. In addition a first batch of 237 records has been uploaded into RLIN-AMC, assuring us that there are no technical hitches here. We are still anticipating survey responses from several foreign countries in each of which a cooperating institution or individual has been designated. These foreign surveys are our primary source of information on foreign collections but we will continue to review published foreign guides to repositories for additional information on relevant collections.

The new grant assures continuing support for a full-time archivist-cataloger, Tabitha Kirin, who has continued to focus on the processing of foreign survey returns. Other Center staff are contributing time to the ICOS project under AIP cost-sharing, especially with the aid of the new Hutchisson bequest (see AIP CENTER FOR HISTORY OF PHYSICS RECEIVES $600,000 BEQUEST article)

We have just begun an important phase of the project, searching the RLIN-AMC file for collections which fall within the scope of the ICOS. This will make sure we avoid uploading duplicate records into RLIN; it will also uncover relevant collections which are not in the ICOS, and which we can then incorporate and provide with index access. In preliminary searching we learned of some 220 records at 28 repositories the AIP had never surveyed.

After the expansion project is completed, we will of course continue to update the ICOS through our regular surveys of archives and other repositories for reports of new collections (see: DOCUMENTATION PRESERVED article).


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AIP History Center Center for History of Physics
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Phone: 301-209-3165
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