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Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Volume 25 Number 9 August 31, 2003

Special Collections' Untiring Retiree
Publishes Civil War Manuscripts Guide

   see caption
  Photo of Civil War soldier Aaron Van Fleet, a resident of Clover Hill, NJ, from Special Collections and University Archives. His letters to his brother are included in the John E. Van Fleet papers, which is entry #202 in Don's book (p. 452).

Offering a bountiful gift to Civil War researchers across the nation, retired but prolific Special Collections staffer Donald Sinclair has just published "A Guide To New Jersey and Other Civil War Manuscripts in Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University."

Reflecting years of meticulous research, this Guide provides brief identifying information and transcriptions, excerpts, or descriptions of 880 letters, journals, military records, and other memorabilia of the Civil War held in Special Collections. The Guide was published with support from a grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission.

Donald Sinclair was head of Special Collections from 1947 until 1981, when he retired. At the age of 87 he continues to work daily in Special Collections. He served for many years as a member of the New Jersey Historical Commission and editor of the journal New Jersey History.

Don is the author of twenty other publications detailing Special Collections holdings in other significant areas of scholarship, eighteen of which were published since his retirement. These publications include:

  • Education and Schools in New Jersey Before 1900: A Guide to Pertinent Resources in the Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives. 1998
  • Demon Rum: A Bibliography of Publications About Liquor and New Jersey, 1779 -1932. 1996
  • New Jersey and the American Revolution: A Bibliography. Co-authored by Grace W. Schut. 1995. A Guide to Manuscript Diaries and Journals in Special Collections, Rutgers University. 1980.

    Copies of "A Guide To New Jersey and Other Civil War Manuscripts in Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University" may be purchased for $50 by contacting Special Collections by phone at 732/932-7006 or by sending email to Nancy Martin at ngmartin@rci.rutgers.edu.

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    AUL Agnew Speaks at Nat'l Convention

    Associate University Librarian Grace Agnew was one of the featured keynote speakers at the "SCO Days" Convention held by the Academic ADL Co-Lab in Madison, Wisconsin in June.

    The Academic Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) Co-Lab, affiliated with the University of Wisconsin system, serves as the focal point for the nation's universities and colleges in promoting high-quality, reusable content for distributed learning. The Co-Lab works to test, evaluate, and demonstrate advanced distributed learning tools and technologies developed by the federal government, academia, and industry to enhance teaching and learning.

    The "SCO Days" convention focused on the development and application of sharable content objects, or SCOs. Shared content objects consist of a collection of digital assets, such as video clips, text files, webpages, or a combination of the three, that are organized and used to support a variety of learning experiences.

    In her keynote talk, "What is the SCO When It is Not at Home? Learning Objects & the Educational Repository," Grace described the changing university information universe and outlined the features of effective academic repositories that can serve multiple user groups. Grace also identified some of the issues involved in managing the storage, organization, long-term preservation, and use of learning objects in academia.

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    Angel Falcon
    Rutgers University Libraries/SCILS Intern

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      Angel Falcon in his cubicle, in Libraries Administration.

    When did you arrive at the Rutgers University Libraries? Where were you previously and what was your role there?
    I enrolled in SCILS in 2001 after securing a BA in religious studies and art history from Yale University in 1999 and a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard University in 2001. I finished my coursework at SCILS this past semester and I'm working in the last phase of my internship now.

    What are your primary responsibilities at the Libraries?
    As the Libraries/SCILS Intern, I've had the pleasure of working in a number of areas in the Libraries. I started with a semester in access services, working under the supervision of Jeff Teichman. Then I spent a semester in Technical and Automated Services, working with Rhonda Marker and Lourdes Vasquez on the Marcadia project, where I handled gift processing.

    Next, I went to Special Collections and University Archives, where I worked with Fernanda Perrone to create a database of the Robert Alexander collection of pamphlets. The next semester my focus was collection development, working with Lourdes Vasquez to review and weed Latin American materials. I also helped create or update four finding aids, including one for Latin American Microforms at the Rutgers University. Next semester, I was on the reference desks at the Kilmer Library and Alexander Library with guidance from Jeris Cassel and Myoung Wilson.

    Now I'm in Libraries Administration, working with University Librarian Marianne Gaunt, to produce a 2002/2003 annual report for VALE and to develop a data-matrix/analysis of staffing across the various units at the Libraries.

    On the side, I've taught a few classes on Internet and research skills for ESL students in grades 9-12 in the New Brunswick Public Schools, using the electronic classrooms in the Scholarly Communication Center. Some friends in non- profit organizations in New Brunswick helped me make the connections in the public schools and it seemed like a worthwhile way to apply the skills I've gained here.

    What were the most unusual, unexpected, or challenging experiences you've had in your work here?
    Two come to mind quickly.

    One was the Judaic Studies student who came in and asked, skeptically, if I knew how to locate Alt Nu Land. When I replied that I was familiar with the author, Theodore Herzl, who wrote "Old, New Land" (the English translation), she was taken back; guess she didn't expect a guy from the Bronx to know German!

    Then there was the student working on his senior thesis, who was looking for information on Indian sponsored gambling. We found a specialized archive at, of course, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas!

    In your view, what are the Libraries' greatest strengths?
    It has to be the abilities of the faculty and staff; they're tremendous problem-solvers and innovators. I believe they're ahead of a lot of their peer institutions, despite our limited resources.

    Who is the colleague you work with most frequently here and how?
    In the last phase of my internship, I'm in frequent contact with Marianne Gaunt and her assistant Janie Fultz. I've also worked with Patricia Libutti on bibliographic instruction and with Lourdes Vasquez on a number of different projects over the last few years.

    What is the last book you've read?
    Ifa: We'll Mend Our Broken World by Wande Abimbola, a professor at Boston University and spokesman for the Ifa religion. He's quite articulate. And ...
    Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, a classic book about an academically inclined sloth living in New Orleans. It's hilariously funny and I found myself laughing out loud on buses.

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    Quick Take:
    Summarizing a Published Report
    On the Rutgers University Libraries

    In an article in the August 2003 issue of the Research Libraries Group email newsletter Focus, Rhonda Marker describes how the Libraries made creative adaptations to the RLG Marcadia program and used it to catalog a record number of complicated items.

    Using the adapted Marcadia program, the Libraries Monographs Cataloging department created records for over 6,000 gift and unit receipt items in less than two years. Gift items are often received without catalog information and unit receipts come without individual invoices, both requiring time intensive searches in the RLG Union Catalog to match the item to established records. Marcadia merged matches in the RLG Union Catalog with information in select fields in brief Libraries records, creating completed records ready for immediate use in IRIS.

    Congratulations to Rhonda on her published article and to the staff and students in Monographs Cataloging, and Libraries/SCILS intern Angel Facon, for their innovative work.

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    July 6, 2003
    June 8, 2003
    The Agenda Archive

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