Category Archives: Collection Connection

Ethnologue: Languages of the World database is now available

By: Elise Gowen

The EMS Library has purchased a subscription to a new world languages database, Ethnologue.

Explore the World’s languages with Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Find, read about, and research the world’s 7,099 known living languages, and get access to statistics and other information on the living languages of the world, including the number of speakers, location, dialects, linguistic affiliations and autonym.

Ethnologue can be found at

Please direct questions to Elise Gowen, or 814-863-7324

Mann Lecture Musings: Steps in Time

by Sandra Stelts, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Special Collections Library

woman showing a dance pose with 18th-century images on the projection screen behind her

The 2017 Charles W. Mann Jr. Lecture in the Book Arts was given March 30, 2017, by Professor Linda Tomko from the University of California at Riverside, on “Books, Bodies, and Circulations of Dancing in Early 18th-Century France and England” in Foster Auditorium. Photo by Nathan Valchar.

On Thursday, March 30, members of the Foster Auditorium audience found themselves immersed in the time and space of 18th-century stage sets, courts, ballrooms, and dance masters’ studios. We imagined ourselves in corsets and tri-cornered hats, humming tunes from the pages of books, all the while attempting to follow the pathways of the mysterious and, to us, unknowable patterns of lines known as dance notation.

Linda Tomko used illustrations such as this one, from “The Art of Dancing Explained by Reading and Figures” by Kellom Tomlinson, London, 1735, considered to be one of the most beautiful of all dance notation books, in her talk for the 2017 Charles W. Mann Jr. Lecture.

Some notation systems are like tiny stick figures that depict gestures; others present an abstract beauty of their own, quite independent of the motion being described. Click on the image to view a high-resolution version in detail.This year’s Mann Lecture celebrated books found in Penn State’s Mary Ann O’Brian Malkin Early Dance Collection (1531–1804), which includes books on the history of European dance, its dancers (both amateur and professional), and on the development of dance notation—the visual dictionaries of dance elements. Systems of dance notation translate human movements into signs that permanently preserve the visual moment—a combination of flowing lines and disciplined gestures. Malkin herself often referred to these mystifying patterns as “chicken scratches,” and it was Tomko’s mission to enliven a number of examples of dance notation by occupying their space and literally “dancing by the book.”

In the 1680s, the ballet teacher Pierre Beauchamp invented a dance notation system for Baroque dancers. His system, known as the Beauchamp-Feuillet notation, was published in 1700 by his student, Raoul-Auger Feuillet, in 1700 as Chorégraphie; ou, l’art de décrire la dance (“Choreography; or, The Art of Describing the Dance”). The system spread rapidly throughout Europe, with English, German, and Spanish versions soon appearing. The notation became so popular at court and among the educated classes that books of collected dances were published annually.

Some notation systems are like tiny stick figures that depict gestures; others present an abstract beauty of their own, quite independent of the motion being described. Click on the image to view the detail in high resolution.

Tomko offered our audience an opportunity to reinvigorate the chicken scratches by first explaining and then demonstrating the intricate footwork and appropriate arm gestures represented in the notation. She guided us through the signs that indicated the steps used in the various dances, including which ones distinguished the male and female dancers. As a historian, dancer, and performer, Tomko is herself an embodier of dances past.

The Mann Lecture is an annual series that honors the late Charley Mann, the first head of the Department of Special Collections who served in that role for more than forty years. Beginning in 2002, the series has featured lively speakers and topics relating to the book arts, including printing, writing, illustration, and book design—anything that might be considered an aspect of the book arts, broadly construed. The series is a fitting tribute to Charley because such talks provide a vibrant forum to learn from the past, as well as a delightful reason to gather together people who share interests in books and bookmaking. The series is funded by the Mary Louise Krumrine Endowment.

We are already excited about the topic and speaker for next year’s Mann Lecture, and we hope you’ll make the series a regular appointment on your calendars.

Access to Afro-Americana imprints expanded

Title page for Relation du voyage du Cap-Verd. Par le R.P. Alexis de S. Lo, Capucin, published in Paris in 1637.

The Readex collection known as Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922 contains digitized versions of more than 12,000 books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, broadsides, and graphics from the Library Company of Philadelphia’s African Americana Collection. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is America’s first successful lending library and oldest cultural institution.

According to the LCP website, this unique collection documents “the western discovery and exploitation of Africa, the rise of slavery in
the new world along with the rise of movements against slavery, the development of racial thought and racism, descriptions of African- American life, slave and free, throughout the Americas, slavery and race in fiction and drama, and the printed works of African American individuals and organizations. The collection ranges in date from the mid-16th century into the early years of the 20th century.”

On Jan. 24, a file of 7,170 records for titles in the collection was loaded into The CAT by the Bibload Working Group, bringing the total number of records loaded to 9,258 to date. A Keywords Anywhere search in The CAT of “afamer” will retrieve the records. Future loads are expected as the collection grows.

The Libraries’ current Strategic Plan places an emphasis on describing and ensuring access to unique collections like Afro-Americana Imprints. Loading records into the catalog thus serves Goal 2 of the plan’s Discovery, Access, and Preservation programmatic area, to “improve access for future generations through stewardship of collections and resources.”

– submitted by Jeff Edmunds, Cataloging and Metadata Services

Swimming with the fiches: A “lost” collection rediscovered


Photo by Engineering Librarian Angela Davis.

A dark corner of the Engineering Library houses four unmarked
cabinets of microfiche. For more than forty years, the only access provided to the collection was via a single collection-level record in the catalog for the “IAA Papers”—a
cryptic title that barely hinted at the extent (nearly 60,000 unique titles)
and richness (highly specialized aeronautics texts in more than 20 languages) of the collection.

Thanks to Engineering Librarian
Angela Davis and her colleagues, working in collaboration with the Bibload Working Group, the IAA Papers have now been cataloged. A “Begins With/Title” search in The CAT of “IAA Papers” will retrieve the 59,973 records.

The MARC records were created based on spreadsheets containing metadata gathered by Angela and then transformed into MARC by the Bibload Working Group.

The IAA Papers are a collection of full-text journal articles, conference papers, monographs and theses from mostly Soviet Bloc scientists and engineers originally published between 1966 and 1973. A majority of the papers are in English or Russian, but nearly two dozen other languages are also represented. The Libraries acquired the fiche in the late 1960s and early 1970s at considerable cost: adjusting for inflation, the fiche cost somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 in 2016 dollars!

One programmatic area of the Libraries’ current strategic plan, Discovery, Access, and Preservation, includes the goal to “describe and digitize unique collections.” The IAA Papers are almost certainly unique: no other library is known to hold this collection. The project to catalog them thus serves the second goal of the same programmatic area, to “improve access for future generations through stewardship of collections and resources.”

– submitted by Jeff Edmunds, Cataloging and Metadata Services Digital Access Team

Update on Elsevier divestiture

By Ann Snowman

In accordance with Collection Services Advisory Group’s decision on March 13, 2013, Access Services has begun to identify our Elsevier serial print holdings with the intent to withdraw them. This project follows the recommendations of the Collection Retention Policy Working Group Report and will serve as the pilot for future withdrawal projects.

The Center for Library Initiatives (CLI) of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) entered into a formal agreement to collect and hold the print holdings of all Elsevier serial publications at University of Indiana’s ALF storage facility. That project is well underway; recently Rebecca Crist was hired to manage both the Shared Print Storage project and the government documents digitization project in which we also participate. Confidence in the CIC project and has led us to withdraw print holdings from both off-site and on-site locations.

Penn State’s initiative will rely on the titles held in the Elsevier digital back files to which we have purchased permanent access to inform the selection process for divestiture. We will begin by identifying the stakeholders, designing the workflow and the actors, testing and refining the process. Serials & Acquisitions assisted by requesting a list of titles covered by the back files. The vendor responded with more than 1,600 titles and title changes, their ISSNs and the span of years covered by each title. Our task was to find call numbers and locations to match them all before we begin.

Because our primary goal is to open up space in the annex we will begin withdrawing volumes there before we move into a library. We anticipate a workflow that will alert selectors as we approach providing sufficient time for them to respond with special considerations, such as a designation of distinction, and a clear justification for a volume or series to be excepted from the project.

Progress reports will be issued as the work advances.



By Ann Snowman

DARCHIVE-P is a new location policy viewable only in WorkFlows that will be used to govern the circulating behavior of volumes comprising the PALCI Distributed Dark Archive that resides in the Libraries Annex. Penn State is the designated site to retain 46 titles published by The American Chemical Society (ACS), The American Institute of Physics (AIP) and The American Physical Society (APS) making up the archive on behalf of our PALCI consortial partners. Continue reading

Textbook Purchasing: How We’re Supporting our Students

By Lisa German

“Back in the day” it was common practice for libraries to exclude textbooks from approval plans and from firm order purchases. “We don’t buy textbooks” was a standard phrase. This is not the case anymore. The University Libraries is helping our students mitigate the high price of textbooks by purchasing textbooks and putting them on reserve.
Where can textbooks be found? 
  • Engineering Library — Buys a copy of textbooks that are required for all undergraduate and graduate courses. Additionally, they purchase textbooks in math, chemistry, and physics that engineering students are required to take and they also have the copies of the CAS 100 texts required by engineering students.
  • Earth & Mineral Sciences Library – Purchases required textbooks for all undergraduate and graduate courses taught by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. If the textbooks are available in e-version, they are purchased in that format.
  • Physical & Mathematical Sciences Library – Purchases required and recommended textbooks taught in Astronomy, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics and some selected texts in Chemical Engineering, EMECH, BMB and other areas based on the number of student requests or if a faculty member requests a purchase. Supplemental materials, sky charts, for example, are purchased as requested.
  • Business Library – Purchases one copy of recommended and required textbooks (including solution manuals) for undergrad and grad courses offered the College of IST, the Smeal College of Business, School of Hospitality Management, Department of Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Management, and the Department of Economics.
  • Life Sciences, Education & Behavioral Sciences, and Social Sciences – Purchase textbooks on a case by case basis
  • Commons Services Desk – Many textbooks are on course reserve. Additionally, many articles are available on e-reserve that are available anywhere, anytime to students enrolled in the course.
Textbooks aren’t the only high demand types of material that is put on reserve. Many of you probably know that two very high demand resources are the anatomical models and molecule sets on reserve in the Life Sciences Library. While the Arts and Humanities Library doesn’t typically purchase textbooks, many of the readings students need to do in their classes are often from from university press books that available in the Libraries.
Is your unit purchasing textbooks, but not mentioned here? 
Please let me know so that we can get the word out to the student organizations so they know that we are aware of the expense for textbooks and that we’re trying to help them.

Advisory Group Discusses Retention Policy

By Lisa German, associate dean for Collections, Information, and Access Services

On January 15, the Collection Services Advisory Group sponsored a forum to discuss the Collection Retention Policy Working Group (CRPWG) Report. The Working Group was charged to evaluate the Libraries current retention policy and program, formulate a retention policy for the next ten years, and to identify and describe those collections for which PSUL will take responsibility to steward for future scholars. CRPWG was asked to deliver a set of recommendations to the Collection Services Advisory Group for its consideration and to draft an implementation schedule.

Several themes emerged as they tackled their challenge:

  • Find a balance between space for our users, collections, and services Support for the role of selectors in making data-informed decisions
  • Develop centralized, efficient processes for collection development and management
  • Increase leadership in cooperative decision making
  • Define Penn State’s responsibility as a leading research library in relation to other ARL and CIC institutions and within Pennsylvania

Please watch the MediaSite Live presentation and also read their report which can be found on the Libraries’ Intranet. You will see that there are similarities between this report and the report of the Space Consultants. I’d like to thank the members of the Collection Retention Policy Working Group for all of the excellent work they did studying these issues. Ann Snowman, chair, Christopher Walker, Dawn Childress, Sandy Stelts, Debora Cheney, Nonny Schlotzhauer, Rick Hart, Sue Kellerman, Janet Hughes and Kevin Harwell comprise the Working Group.

Next steps: more vetting, adoption, and implementation of the recommendations.

New Databases Boost Research in African American history

By Lisa German

Each year, all the libraries in the CIC pool funds in order to take advantage of consortial buying power to purchase library resources at a better price than we could obtain on our own. We purchased three databases this year: Nineteenth Century Collections Online from Gale, African American Periodicals, and Afro-Americana Imprints from Readex.

Nineteenth Century Collections Online is a set of archives arranged in modules that will be published over several years. The CIC purchased the first four modules encompassing over 10 million pages whose topics include British Politics and Society, Asia and the West: Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange, European Literature, 1790-1840 and British Theatre, Music and Literature: High Popular Culture.

African American Periodicals contains more than 170 periodicals published between 1825 and 1995 created by Readex, in partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society that documents African American culture, history, thought, and opinion.

The Afro-Americana Imprints was created from the Library Company of Philadelphia’s collection and contains books, pamphlets, and broadsides spanning more than 400 years of African American History.

These two chronicles of African American history and culture have a tremendous impact on the ability for scholarly research. According to Alexia Hudson-Ward, associate librarian at Penn State Abington, “Locating and using pre-Civil War era primary source materials for African-American Studies is extraordinarily challenging. So many of the important items that provide a view of this history in totality (such as pro and con slavery periodicals and advertisements) are literally spread throughout the United States in various repositories, archives, and libraries. This is why having both of these databases is so valuable. Archival “mining” time is significantly reduced which can allow for uncovering of new historical insights for students, faculty, and researchers.”

These databases are now available to all faculty and students in the CIC. They are accessible through the Databases A-Z list on the Libraries’ front page. As soon as the MARC records are available and loaded into The CAT, these databases will also be searchable via LionSearch.