The Content and Digital Library Systems (CDLS) unit of Schaffer Library is responsible for selecting, acquiring, managing, and providing access to a wide variety of materials in support of the Union curriculum and scholarship both at and beyond the College. Its 11.7 FTE staff members are dedicated and long-serving; many of the student assistants who assist us in our work also stay with us throughout their entire four years at the College. The unit is organized into the following five service areas: Collection Development, Cataloging and Metadata, Continuing Resources, Digital Scholarship and Services, and Systems.
Work in the CDLS unit is anything but routine. Serving the interdependent missions of the Library and the College, our goal is to connect resources to researchers, and because both are constantly changing, our services are constantly changing as well. Books, films, music, and journal titles all now come now come online as well as in traditional, tangible formats; we participate in new consortial approaches to collection-building; we not only maintain the library’s website but push information out via online exhibits and social media; where we once simply cataloged the rare materials in Special Collections, we now also digitize them and help present Union’s other unique cultural resources online, collaborating with partners across campus to create enriched web-based resources for the benefit of researchers everywhere.
The generosity of donors has made much of this work possible. Endowed and gift funds help support the acquisition and digitization of materials, and we could not do without the Training Room in our area (gifted during the renovations to the library building in the late 1990s), where we constantly meet to plan new projects and keep our technical skills up-to-date.
The rare combination of resources at Union College makes working in the CDLS unit particularly rewarding. Being able to draw upon new purchases as well as materials acquired throughout Union’s long history – and articles in electronic databases as well as original documents in Special Collections – allows us to present coordinated access to information in amazingly diverse forms and from widely disparate sources. This coordinated approach inspires new ways of thinking, learning, and engaging with the material as well as with each other.