Mann Library unveils rare ag books

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ITHACA, N.Y. – Cornell University’s Albert R. Mann Library has unveiled a Web site devoted to rare, historically significant books on agriculture. Not merely citations, the books can be read in full online.

The library’s Core Historical Literature of Agriculture is an electronic collection of the most important agricultural texts published between the early 19th century and the mid-20th century.

The collection includes 825 full-text monographs with over 300,000 scanned pages covering topics from agricultural economics and engineering to food and soil science.

Check it out.

The Web site is located at http://chla.mannlib.cornell.edu.

“A lot of the books are older, of course, and the acidic paper has deteriorated. Many libraries are in danger of having rare books disintegrate,” said Joy Paulson, the preservation librarian. “We’re making sure we have copies of these important books in some format.

“Right now digital is easy to access, and putting these books online means they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all over the world.”

Paulson and Michael Cook, social sciences bibliographer for Mann Library, are both responsible for this longtime project. The literature can be traced back 10 years when the Mann Library and the U.S. Agricultural Information Network developed a unified national plan for preserving agricultural literature in the United States.

The results.

The result was the National Preservation Program for Agricultural Literature, which since 1993 has been the framework for all national preservation in this field.

Mann Library set out to identify the key scholarly literature that needed preservation. For five years, Wallace Olsen, special projects librarian, headed a national group of scholars that identified this literature.

The result: A list of more than 4,500 scholarly monographs and journals in seven agricultural fields that was published in the award-winning Literature of the Agricultural Sciences series from Cornell University Press.

Future collection.

Eventually there will be full text of more than 2,000 monographs and 150 journal titles. While there are currently no journal titles available, over the next several years the full text of nearly 40 journals with copyright clearance will be added.

Scanning has already begun on titles such as Agricultural History, Journal of Farm Economics and Annals of the Entomological Society of America. These should be available later this year.

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