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Grant to Expose Civil Engineering “Hidden Collections”

Lehigh University has been awarded a $93,700 grant under the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program funded by the Mellon Foundation to enhance scholarly access to books, records, and maps held by the Lehigh University Libraries Special Collections. This two-year project, "Bridge and Building Forensics: Civil Engineering Archives at Lehigh University," will process and create finding aids for six civil engineering archival collections, including the papers of John Fisher; Blair Birdsall; Willis Slater; and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. In addition, a collection of postcards depicting American bridges and a series of photographs showing laboratory testing will be described.

Lois Fischer Black, Lehigh University’s Curator of Special Collections, will serve as the project’s Principal Investigator and Ilhan Citak, Archives and Special Collections Librarian, will serve as Project Manager. Lehigh University’s proven leadership in innovative applications of library and educational technology will undergird a project that offers new opportunities for advanced students to become actively involved in the processing and use of primary documents. The project will highlight many historically significant collections held by Lehigh’s Special Collections, advancing its mission of serving as a primary resource center for collections in the history of technology.

Created in 2008, the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives awards program supports the identification and cataloging of special collections and archives of high scholarly value that are difficult or impossible to locate. It is administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources in Washington, D.C. Award recipients create descriptive information for their hidden collections that will eventually be linked to and interoperable with all other projects funded by this grant program.

This year grants were awarded to twenty-one other institutions including Amherst College, Columbia University, the Newberry Library, and Princeton University. The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the management of information for research, teaching, and learning. CLIR works to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good.