By ANTHONY J. GONZALES
Current and former Library of Congress staff and invited guests recently gathered at the Library to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC).
NUCMC is a Library cooperative cataloging partnership with archival repositories throughout the United States, which provides and promotes bibliographic access to the nation’s documentary heritage.
Since its inception in 1959, NUCMC has produced more than 116,000 bibliographic records that describe the holdings in almost 1,800 repositories.
A resolution of the Council of the Society of American Archivists on the occasion of the program’s 50th anniversary commended the program and the Library for “providing exemplary service of the highest merit to archivists and repositories in the United States and its territories and to researchers and scholars everywhere.”
Speakers at the celebration included Associate Librarian for Library Services Deanna Marcum, who discussed NUCMC as an example of “the power of collaboration.”
Beacher Wiggins, the director for Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access, followed, sharing his memories of longtime NUCMC editor Harriet Ostroff Dicker, who died earlier this spring.
Alan Virta, a former NUCMC staffer and currently an archivist and head of special collections at Boise State University Library, reminisced about the early days of NUCMC.
The formal program closed with an announcement by Judith Cannan, chief of the Cooperative and Instructional Programs Division, that the Library and OCLC have reached an agreement in principle to provide searching access via the NUCMC website to OCLC’s Archive Grid, an important resource for searching descriptions of collections held by archives around the world.
Slides produced for display at the celebration, as well as photographs of the festivities, will be made available shortly at the NUCMC website.
The NUCMC program evolved from a manuscripts union catalog movement that began as far back as 1939 involving the American Historical Association, the Society of American Archivists, the American Association for State and Local History, the then National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the American Library Association, among others. Supported by generous grants from the organization then known as the Council on Library Resources, the NUCMC program was formally established at the Library in 1959.
To participate in the program, repositories must be located in the United States or its territories, must regularly admit researchers, and must lack the capability of entering their own manuscript cataloging into OCLC.
Cooperating repositories provide information about their collections, and NUCMC catalogers use that data to create MARC bibliographic records describing the repository’s holdings in OCLC WorldCat. Researchers can search not only NUCMC cataloging but also the entire OCLC archival and mixed collections file free of charge through the NUCMC/WorldCat gateway available at the program’s website at www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/.
Benefits realized by participating repositories include free standardized bibliographic records describing their collections. These records are also integrated into an international database, answering a repository obligation to provide information to users about institutional holdings. Because researchers are better able to find descriptions of a repository’s holdings, the collections are more widely used. Greater use of collections can present repositories with strong arguments for increased support by those controlling their budgets.
Anthony J. Gonzales is the Library’s NUCMC coordinator.