Saint Anselm College

Demonstrate the value of your special collections

Keith explaining the Saint John’s Bible facsimile on loan to Saint Anselm College
Courtesy of Saint Anselm College

"Using GreenGlass, I'm able to more easily provide data and information to people who are asking about our special collections, whether it's our faculty and students, outside researchers, or potential donors."

Keith Chevalier
Archivist and Head of Special Collections, Saint Anselm College

When Saint Anselm College’s Geisel Library began a project to evaluate the collection and library space using Sustainable Collection Services® and GreenGlass®, Archivist and Head of Special Collections Keith Chevalier made a case for including special collections in the evaluation to identify “and broadly evaluate the distinctiveness of the collections as a whole.” GreenGlass gave him an opportunity to see a snapshot of the special collections with additional detail, such as comparisons with other library collections, to get an idea of how rare these items are and which subject areas are strongest.

Keith was especially interested in the Franco-American Collections, which documents the experiences of French-speaking immigrants from Quebec who largely worked in New England mills, like those in Manchester, New Hampshire. Saint Anselm College acquired the Association-Canado-Américaine (ACA) collection, which Keith said contains “thousands of volumes as well as hundreds of cubic feet of manuscript material,” through a donation. Before GreenGlass, “we really didn't have the time or staffing to fully evaluate the book collection. GreenGlass provides us with a more nuanced understanding of our collection that will help inform collection development activities,” he said.

GreenGlass helped Keith qualify this special collection’s distinctiveness and share that information with others. Of the roughly 4,100 items in the Franco-American Collections, “we found that with 118 of these, we have the only copy of the book,” he said. GreenGlass also allows him to set helpful parameters on the data to see scarcity of items. “If I used the metric of 10 or fewer copies worldwide, it's about 1,150 titles, so about 27% of our Franco-American Collections.”

"GreenGlass affords us the opportunity to get a better understanding of our collections with a structured set of data."

Keith explained that “GreenGlass simplifies the processing of the data, which is helpful considering limited staff and broad job responsibilities.” He added that reports from his ILS provide the data as content in emails. GreenGlass “is going to give me a file formatted for Excel. With this file, I can arrange the data the way I want, either through graphs or pivot tables. … It’s a lot easier to have it processed this way.”

From this data, he has created graphics to help “read the collection through comparison to make collection development decisions and to communicate its distinctiveness to faculty, administration, and donors,” Keith said. This view can help with many other projects too, such as a bibliographic records reevaluation project to strengthen records for rare titles so researchers have more nuanced information about these exceptional volumes.

Using the data from the GreenGlass project, the library was able to deaccession superseded volumes, thus freeing up floor space to expand the Archives and Special Collections. “In a general sense, these collections are more well-used than they ever have been before,” Keith said. With the understanding of the collections he received from GreenGlass, he added, “we are able to make more informed decisions about collection development.” And it has allowed him to focus on the areas of strongest need. “As a steward for the collection, I can use something like GreenGlass to compare our collections against other institutions to see how we fit into the research mosaic.”

Map showing location of Saint Anselm College

Library at a glance

  • Maintains the college archive and four special collections: the Franco-American Collections, the O’Rourke Saint Anselm Collection with primary and secondary materials documenting the life and works of Saint Anselm, the New England Collection with more than 1,600 volumes including town histories, and the Rare Book Collection with more than 1,000 items
  • First collection at the college included books from the library of Father Nicholas Balleis, a Benedictine monk from Salzburg, Austria, who arrived in the United States in 1836
  • Recently renovated to provide a space for processing collections and a reading room for accessing the archival, manuscript, and rare book collections

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