How to Eat an Elephant: Processing a Massive Gift Collection with a Streamline Workflow

Session Description

Have you ever been faced with a project so large that you didn’t know where to start? Or with a project time frame that seemed impossible with normal staffing and processes?  How do you meet the needs of all the stakeholders (curators, catalogers, administrators)?  How do you streamline processes while maintaining quality standards?  What are the implications for future hidden-collections processing?  Out-of-the-box thinking and a problem-solving approach are required to answer these questions.

In this presentation, we will discuss how the University of Pennsylvania Libraries processed an enormous gift collection, under time pressure, using a unique workflow. Challenges included sorting boxes in which rare materials were mixed with items suitable for general collections, while simultaneously culling duplicates and items to go to resale. We will show how setting up a workflow that anticipates some of the most common curatorial decisions, frees bibliographers and curators from having to look at every item to make a decision. We will also talk about how template-based cataloging can be used to save time, along with other streamlined processing. Participants will receive a case study in advance, in order to think about how they might approach a similar scenario.

Session Type




    Beth Picknally Camden

  • Beth Picknally Camden, Goldstein Director of Information Processing, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
    Since 2005, Beth Picknally Camden has been the Patricia and Bernard Goldstein Director of Information Processing, responsible for technical services at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.   Previously, she held positions at University of Virginia and University of Notre Dame.  Beth holds a MS in Library Science from the Catholic University of America and a BA in English from the University of Notre Dame.   She is involved in professional organizations including the American Library Association (ALA), the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS) and the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (PCC).  For additional information, please see:

    Elsa Verela

  • Elsa Varela, Rare Book Cataloger, University of Pennsylvania Libraries
    Elsa Varela currently works as a rare book cataloger in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. Elsa has held several positions at Penn, including Gotham Book Mart Collection Project Coordinator. She received her MS in Library and Information Science from Drexel University. She is a member of ALA and REFORMA (The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking). Elsa was born in Uruguay, but has lived the majority of her life in the United States. For more information, please see:
[hidepost=”1″] [/hidepost]

Produced by LearningTimes.