Short visit to CRL

This is the tiniest of travel logs describing a trip to the Center for Research Libraries (CRL).

On Tuesday, May 10, 2005 Doug Archer, Mark Dehmlow, and I trekked off to the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago. Since we got there a bit early we quickly toured the University of Chicago campus by visiting the cathedral, the main quad, and the main library.

At the appointed time we met up with Morgan Elmore (Web & Digital Library Specialist) and ate at a nearby restaurant. We had the largest of hamburgers and learned that at least a couple of integrated library system vendors are incorporating Web Services computing techniques into their applications. Good, but I wish their implementations were standardized.

We then had a chat with Bernard Reilly (President) who shared the history of CRL and some of its future directions. For example, we learned that CRL was started just after World War II by a number of large university libraries who wanted a place to store and centralize materials they no longer desired to house locally. The Center recently received a grant from the Mellon Foundation to explore ways to certify digital library collections. I thought this was an apropos activity for an institution whose purpose was to provide archival services and access to those archives.

Mary Wilke (Head of Acquisitions/User Services) then gave us a tour of the facility. The building is three or four stories tall and about the size of the Hesburg Library's second floor. There are few windows and the air is purposely keep cool, almost cold. Since the Center primarily provides archival and lending services, the facility is not necessarily designed for in-house use. On the floor and in the compact shelving we saw stacks of bound newspapers, rows and rows of foreign dissertations, lot's of various microforms, serials, foreign and state government documents, and books, books, books. Some of the more interesting items included a complete transcript of the Nuremberg Trials, a newspaper printed during the French Revolution, and Russian newspapers printed in English before the time of the Soviets. The stacks are closed but contained a single patron who had been granted "special dispensation" because he needed access to textbooks. It was sort of funny to see him hovering over his booktruck filled with books.


We wrapped up the day with a combined overview of the University Libraries' and Center's websites. We were trying to determine how CRL content could be better integrated into our own site.

In summary, it is always nice to visit other library-like places. Busman's Holidays I call them. CRL is a membership institution. We, the University, pay a regular fee to belong to CRL. In return we are allowed to borrow materials from their collection. Notre Dame has a higher borrowing rate than most other member libraries. With the advent of increased digital content the Center is sincerely looking for ways to stay relevant and meet the demands of its membership.

Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <>
Source: This travel log was never published.
Date created: 2005-05-24
Date updated: 2005-11-12
Subject(s): Center for Research Libraries (CRL); travel log;