March 15, 2007

SIUC joins Irish Literary Collections Portal

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. — When scholars go online to research Irish literature, there's a good chance they'll end up tapping the resources of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The Special Collections Research Center at SIUC's Morris Library recently joined the Irish Literary Collections Portal, a central Web location that connects surfers with more than 100 collections of Irish literature in North America.

The portal is located at

The portal links to books, letters, photos and other printed material dating from the Irish Literary Renaissance, which began in the late 19th century and extended into the early 20th century, said Pamela Hackbart-Dean, director of the Special Collections Research Center. It is a unique tool scholars around the world can use to access these materials.

"One of the special things about it is the other universities that are part of this with us," Hackbart-Dean said. "There's Emory University, Boston College, Wake Forest, Washington University in St. Louis, among others. We're in very good company."

Researchers can search the portal using different parameters, including, topic, author or collections. Emory University maintains the portal, and Hackbart-Dean said it is a great asset for researchers.

"There really is no one-stop shopping where these kinds of collections are concerned. They're located all over the country," she said. "Now researchers will know one of those places is Carbondale, Illinois."

SIUC is offering 17 different collections on the portal, Hackbart-Dean said, including collections on the Abbey Theatre and poet Francis Stuart. A major portion includes the Harley K. Croessmann Collection of James Joyce. Croessmann, of Du Quoin, acquired the collection from 1930 to 1960 and donated it to the University soon after.

Other material assembled by SIUC includes collections on writers William Butler Yeats, Mary Lavin and Elizabeth Coxhead, among others.

Scholars take particular interest in the timeframe covered by the portal because of its variety and creativity among writers, she said.

Hackbart-Dean said the University's renowned Irish Studies program, part of the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts at SIUC, helped amass the collections now available at the portal.

David Carlson, dean of library affairs at SIUC, said the University's association with the portal enhances the special collections' reputation around the world.

"We are thrilled to be able to be an important part of this cooperative, scholarly initiative. Our participation demonstrates the depth and research value of the Irish Literature collection in Special Collections at Morris Library," Carlson said. "This project also demonstrates how, through the use of the Internet, shared resources can be brought together to create something even larger, more significant, and more useful to researchers. "