February 27, 2002

C.U. Library Now U.N. Depository

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The Martin P. Catherwood Library in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) has been designated as an official depository library by the International Labor Organization (ILO), making it the only library in the country, besides the Library of Congress, to serve this function.

The ILO is a specialized United Nations agency, which studies a wide variety of labor issues and creates international labor standards by working with representatives from governments, employee groups and employer groups.

Normally, each country only has one depository library for ILO documents, so “we had to make a case for why we should be a second depository,” said senior reference librarian Stuart Basefsky.

Basefsky had established a relationship with the ILO and has been arguing to make the Catherwood Library a second depository since 1996.

“It is a result of Stuart’s relationship and persistence that we have be able to make this relationship more formal,” said Gordon Law, director of the Catherwood Library.

The library was finally selected because of its quality collection of workplace and labor related issues in the United States, its large international clientele and its ability to provide a broad range of resources via the internet.

The Catherwood Library has been ordering ILO documents since the ILR school was established. However, now “nobody will have to order them. They will come automatically.” Law said. “This assures us that we won’t miss any documents,” he added.

The library will receive all ILO documents for free now, which will save the library between $5,000 and $10,000 per year, according to Basefsky. This will allow the library to use those funds to purchase other resources.

Furthermore, Basefsky believes that the new relationship established by the library and the ILO will also make it easier for researchers in ILR to get research grant approvals. “This gives us a natural partnership,” Basefsky said.

The ILO documents will also benefit various departments in the College of Agriculture and Life Science and the College of Arts and Sciences which are interested in labor relationships.

“Anyone who has used our resources almost can’t avoid using ILO material,” Basefsky said.

The Catherwood Library will archive, catalog and make all the documents it receives available to the public.

Right now, the Cornell Law Library serves as a mirror site for the ILO website, providing an exact copy of all website content. This website already includes the documents that the Catherwood Library will be receiving. However, obtaining paper copies is very important according to Basefsky, since printed material is still the best way to preserve material for future use without the need to worry about any changes in electronic storage formats.

Archived article by Luke Hejnar