Case Study: East Meets West, Backstage

Nobody wants to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially when the gift in question is a large donation from the private collection of a world-renowned scholar. Unfortunately, even the most wonderful gifts are sometimes accompanied by a few complications.

When Bowdoin College received a generous donation of 6,000 volumes from the personal collection of American Sinologist Frederick W. Mote, excitement swept through the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, with apprehension hot on its tail.

Although library staff wanted to make the collection available for use right away, it seemed likely that the donation would languish in storage. Shepherding a block of 6,000 items through the library's cataloging and physical processing workflow would take ages. And many of the books collected by this famous scholar of Chinese culture, were — naturally — written in Chinese. The cataloging staff didn't have the linguistic expertise the collection would require. That's where Backstage came in.

Backstage librarian, Hong Li — a native Chinese speaker — traveled to the Colorado home of Professor Mote's widow, Hsiao-lan Mote, where she personally oversaw the packing and special-freight shipment of these valuable books. Safely transported to Backstage Library Works in Provo, Utah, the precious volumes of Chinese history and philosophy were in good hands.

Backstage crew, supervised by Hong, cataloged the books according to Library of Congress classification. Once barcodes, spine labels, and custom book plates were applied, the items were packed in shelflist order for the final trip to Maine. There, library staffers unpacked the collection, already sorted and ready for use.

Bowdoin College Librarian, Sherrie Bergman, said of her experience with the project:

"We were so pleased by Backstage's cataloging work on a prior gift of Japanese-language books that we naturally turned to them when we received the Mote collection. We have been impressed by their personal attention to the many complex details related to the processing of this collection, and by their flexibility. We were especially pleased that Backstage made Hong available to serve as our agent, supervising the packing of the collection in Colorado. We look forward to working with them on future projects. "

For more information on cataloging and materials preparation services from Backstage, drop us a note or call us at 1.800.288.1265.