Columbia University Libraries

Advance Knowledge
Build, steward, and leverage collections distinguished by scope, quality, and scale to inform memory and enhance scholarship.

As a foundation for supporting research and teaching, Columbia's collections are central to the University's intellectual distinction and highest ambitions. The Libraries build, shape, sustain, and make discoverable collections that transcend traditional boundaries of format and domain, offer enduring research value, and support the intellectual curiosity of Columbia faculty and students. We secure unique, vulnerable, and evanescent materials through diligent curation and stewardship of works in print, digital, and media formats. We work to preserve our shared heritage in the face of format degradation and digital impermanence. By working inter-institutionally, we acquire, manage, and provide persistent access to millions of collection materials – products of the past and those of current scholarship – creating the greatest opportunities for scholars and students to encounter global thought.

2018 - 2019 Accomplishments

  • Digitally preserved more than 4,000 oral history recordings as well as more than 7,000 other unique audio and moving-image collection items
  • Completed a multi-year grant project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, enabling new ways of discovering and accessing digital and digitized content from the collections
  • Implemented procedures whereby all newly-acquired collections, whether through gift or purchase, receive collection-level records that are published upon accession
  • Enacted a policy to allow unprocessed collections to be made available for researchers, with the exception of restricted portions
  • With the endorsement of the Provost's Advisory Committee on the Libraries, established a new Collection Strategies & Policies framework

2017 - 2018 Accomplishments

  • Launched a multi-year project to digitally preserve and make accessible 77,000 unique audio and moving image collections on deteriorating analog media formats
  • Added seven million items to the CLIO catalog for direct borrowing from Princeton and the New York Public Library
  • Prioritized the "unhiding" of thousands of collections in the Libraries' backlogs, making them discoverable online and usable for research and learning
  • Revealed an additional 700 archival collections through the implementation of new metadata standards and supporting technology