UR Libraries were recently awarded a $300,000 grant from the New York State Department of Library Development. The money will be spent on the preservation of glass-plate photographic negatives, audio recordings and music scores.

The grant money will be spent on preserving three main collections managed by Rare Books and Special Collections – the Fairchild Collection, Ward’s Natural Science Establishment Collection and the University Archives.

Preservation for the Fairchild Collection, which consists of thousands of photographic glass plates from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has already commenced. Henry LeRoy Fairchild, who was a professor at the university, used a camera to document many geological features of Rochester and Western New York. Many of his photographs, however, are deteriorating.

The Ward’s Natural Science Establishment Collection consists of the many papers and photographs of Henry A. Ward, who also taught at the university.

Ward traveled throughout the world collecting rare and exotic specimens and then shipping them back to Rochester. His company designed museums for other universities and organizations and stocked them with Ward’s specimens.

“He would ship train loads of stuff back to UR to then be placed elsewhere,” librarian and archivist at Rush Rhees Nancy Martin said.

According to Martin, the collections now consist of thousands of photographs of the specimens and of museum designs. “He had a thriving business,” Martin said.

Preservation of numerous photographs in the University Archives, detailing the history of the university and the construction of the River Campus, is also allotted for in the grant.

See GRANT, Page 4

“It’s wonderful footage of

building the campus,” Martin said of the archive collection.

Close to 900 hours of audio recordings in the Rochester Oral Jewish History Project, a project that interviewed Jewish immigrants, is housed in the archives as well. The tapes, which were recorded in 1976, are in need of restoration. “They are in danger of deterioration,” Martin added.

The bulk of the grant will be spent on preservation of the photographic plates in the Fairchild and Ward Collections. The same grant was also given to Columbia University. Together, UR and Columbia will work towards the preservation of their library materials.

Columbia is in the process of preserving a series of photographs detailing the construction of the Empire State Building.

“[The NY State Department of Library Development] likes to see cooperative grants,” Melissa Mead, digital and visual resources librarian at the Rare Books and Special Collections library, said.

Mead, along with Richard Peek, Director of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, composed the grant, competing with eleven university libraries across the state that are designated as comprehensive research libraries and were eligible for the grant money.

In submitting its grant proposal, the university was essentially competing with itself for preservation funds – requests for money were made to preserve both the photographic images of the Fairchild and Ward Collection and the audio collections. “We were up against ourselves,” Mead said.

The grant proposal was reviewed by a group of professionals in the fields of preservation and archiving, who then decided which proposals to grant.

Since 1989, the university has received $3 million from 50 different grants for the preservation of its library collections. “We’re always happy to get these grants from New York State,” Mead said. “”It’s a fantastic program.”

Museum Photographics, a Rochester company that specializes in the reproduction of antique photographs, will do the preservation. It has been determined exactly which photographs are going to be preserved and by what process. “We know exactly what’s going to happen with this grant money,” Mead said.

The reproduction will involve creating two sets of prints, one of which will remain that the university while the other is placed in a protective storage facility in a climate-controlled vault. “It makes the materials that much more accessible,” Mead said of the reproduction and preservation process.

The Fairchild collection is now on display in the Rare Books And Special Collections Library in Rush Rhees, while work is just beginning on archived materials and will continue with the preservation of the Ward collection.

“There are so many different materials that you are dealing with,” Martin said. “Time is of the essence.”

The preservation project is expected to be complete by May of 2004.

Pisarski can be reached at apisarski@campustimes.org.

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