Title: The Farmington Plan and Florida, 1954
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00089217/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Farmington Plan and Florida, 1954
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Zimmerman, Irene
Publisher: Inter-American Bibliographical and Library Association
Publication Date: 1954
Subject: Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: Caribbean
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00089217
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

For several years now we have
been seeing occasional references
to "The Farmington Plan," a title
which of itself is about as enlighten-
as is the phrase "The Yalta Agree-
ments." There is one resemblance,
but only one between the two, that
they are named for the place where
the men who drew them up met. For
index references to the former we
must depend principally upon Library
Literature. Even there we find under
"Farmington Plan" only a cross
reference: "See Acquisitions, Co-
operative." Having obediently com-
plied, we see that on a numerical
basis the recent numbers of that
guide yield rather meager reward.
However, we fare well qualitatively,
for we are led to the Farmington Plan
Handbook, compiled by Edwin E.
Williams and published by the Asso-
ciation of Research Libraries in
1953. Other principal references are
to the Annual Reports of the Librar-
ian of Congress, who devotes a
section to the Farmington Plan and
the current acquisition program of
that great institution. An account by
Mr. C. Donald Cook of Columbia's
School of Library Service of its
first five years of operation is found
in College and Research Libraries
for July 1954. In an article entitled
"The Farmington Plan and the
'Select List of Unlocated Research
Books'," he makes a useful contri-
bution towards such an evaluation
and finds the results encouraging.
By this time, three facts will have
become apparent. The Farmington
Plan has to do with acquisitions; it
is a going concern; and the term
seems to be here to stay. Turning
now to the aforementioned Handbook,
we see that it quite properly begins
with a section on "What the Plan
Is and How it Works." An outline
of its history and various useful
charts and indexes follow.
What the Plan Is
As defined by the Handbook, "The
Farmington Plan is an experiment in
specialization by voluntary agree-
ment among American research li-
braries. Its objective is to make
sure that at least one copy of each
new foreign book and pamphlet that
might reasonably be expected to



interest a research worker in the
United States will be acquired by
an American library, promptly listed
in the Union Catalog at the Library
of Congress, and made available by
interlibrary loan or photographic re-
The definition states clearly enough
several essential facts but inevitably
raises questions as well, notably as
to what is to be included, It may be
helpful to relate some of the back-
ground of the Plan in order to see
how it has evolved up until now and
to gain an idea of probable directions
of growth.
Immediate Background of the Plan
For years there has been a growing
realization of the need for some
systematic and comprehensive pro-
gram for the acquisition of research
materials in this country, but with
the outbreak of World War II the
urgency of the needs became pain-
fully acute. It was bad enough that
ox. scholars were no longer able to
visit some of the great European
research centers or to obtain mate-
rials from them and that they were
threatened with destruction. But it
was a matter of national survival
whether the informational needs of
the government on which to base
policy decisions could be met.
Exactly one month after the in-
vasion of Poland, September 1, 1939,
Archibald McLeish became Librarian
of Congress, and he lost no time in
calling upon scholars and techni-
cians for advice. Among various
groups active in seeking solutions
was the Executive Committee of
the Librarian's Council of the Li-
brary of Congress, which held its
third meeting on October 9, 1942 at
Farmington, Connecticut. One major
result of its activities was the pres-
entation late in November of a "Pro-
posal for a Division of Responsi-
bility among American Libraries in
the Acquisition and Recording of
Library Materials," of which mimeo-
graphed copies were sent to 120
leading librarians and other parti-
cularly interested persons.
The original "Proposal..." had
called for 'the acquisition, promptly
after publication, by some library in
the United States, of one copy of

every book thereafter published any-
where in the world in the Latin
Alphabe;, which might conceivably
be of interest to a research worker...'
but as a result of suggestions re-
ceived a number of changes were
made. It was specified that to begin
with only commercially printed books
and pamphlets would be included.
For the term "complete coverage"
there was substituted "compre-
hensive coverage." At a somewhat
later stage, the phase "every book...
which might conceivably be of inter-
est..." was changed to "every book
which might reasonably be expected
to have interest to a research worker
in America." These changes were
not made however without consider-
able debate as to what constituted a
desirable and reasonable degree of
selectivity. William Warner Bishop
represented one extreme, for he
feared that even the phrase "might
conceivably be of interest" would
lead to excessive selectivity. Another
spokesman for the need to include
marginal materials was Dr. Keyes
D. Metcalf, Director of Harvard Li-
braries. Even those who argued that
the project was too broad and po-
tentially expensive agreed that in
the national interest measures must
be taken at once to begin acquiring
needed materials.
War Heeds of Government
For an indication of the needs of
the Government as they presented
themselves during World War II we
turn to a chapter on "The Acquisi-
tion of Materials" in the Report of
the Librarian of Congress, 1951.
Suddenly, the Librarian notes, there
arose desperate need for informa-
tion on which to base momentous
decisions concerning areas of the
world which lacked an organized
book trade and which presented
linguistic problems. The Library had
learned a new regard for materials
which would previously have been
considered ephemeral and of little
value. Occasionally decisions had
to be made on interences drawn from
whatever information of an economic,
cultural, or scientific nature could
be found, perhaps provincial news-
papers, political leaflets, trade
directories, handbills, and other

1954 *

Distributed by The Inter-American Bibliographical and Library Association, Gainesville, Florida.
Reprinted from Florida Libraries, Vol. 5, No. 2, September, 1954.

materials which would ordinarily
not be colle;ted. In the light of
this -rattment, it becomes obvious
that what is "important" from a
given geographical or political en-
tity is determined in part by what
constitutes the total output of that
area and in part by the type of re-
search in which a scholar or a
general's staff can "reasonably"
be expected to engage.
A "Proposal" Becomes a "Plan"
While the Government was intensi-
fying its search for information on
which to base military and policy
decisions, the librarians responsible
for the administration of our leading
store houses of such information
were engaging in lively discussion
and argument as to the merits of the
"Proposal for a Division of Respon-
sibility among American Libraries
in the Acquisition and Recording of
Foreign Materials" which had re-
sulted from the meeting of the Execu-
tive Committee of the Librarian's
Council of the Library of Congress
in 1942 already referred to. Various
groups had become interested, and
by a transition which need not con-
cern us here, the "Proposal..." be-
came in March of 1944 a project of
the Association of Research Li-
braries, which appointed a Committee
of the ARL to carry on the study.
The original members were Messrs.
Metcalf, Boyd, and Macleish, but
Mr. MacLeish left the Library of
Congress in December of that same
year and ceased to be a member.
Mr. Metcalf served as Chairman until
1953, when he was succeeded by
Robert B.Downs. However, Mr. Metcalf
remained a member of the Committee.
Early Operation of the Plan
The Plan first went into effect on
a limited scale on January 1, 1948.
By that time the Farmington Plan
Office, at first located at the New
York Public Library but later moved
to the Harvard College Libraries, had
worked out a division of the fields
of knowledge which in many respects
resembles the Library of Congress
classification system. On this basis
the 54 participating libraries had
selected their particular fields of
interest and in 1948 embarked upon
their endeavors to secure .at least
one copy of each commercially
printed book or pamphlet of pre-
sumed research value published
during that year in France, Sweden,
and Switzerland. It was agreed then
and has remained the practice that
the Library of Congress would carry
the responsibility not only for several
of the larger fields of interest but
for numerous minor categories not

covered by other libraries, such, for
example, as ventriloquism, student
publications, fraternities, heraldry,
technology of various crafts, military
bicycles and cycling, and so on
through a fascinating list.
Expansion of Area Covered
The next year five other western
European countries were added and
also the first western hemisphere
nation, Mexico. The addition of three
South American nations in 1950,
Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, brought
to twelve the number of countries
from which commercial publications
in the fields selected were being
sought. By 1951 the Plan was in
effect for most of the non-Communist
countries of western Europe, and an
exchange agreement had been reached
with Australia to bring it into the

Materials Excluded from the Plan
That the Plan as it eventually
evolved and was put into effect did
not attempt complete coverage in
its acquisitions is attested by the
list of materials excluded from the
Plan as set forth in Part VII of the
Handbook. Mr. Cook, in his previous-
ly cited article, uses an adapted form
of the list which is somewhat more
closely organized than that given in
the Handbook and is herewith bor-
rowed in the interests of brevity.
Almanacs Annuals Bibles Books
costing more than $25 Books of interest
chiefly for format or typography Calendars -
Dissertations and theses for academic de-
grees Official government and United
Nations publications Extracts, reprints,
separates, or offprintss" from books or
periodicals Juvenile literature Maps (i.e.,
sheet maps) Medicine Music scores (i.e.,
sheet music) Newspapers Periodicals -
Series; (a) if numbered and issued by so-
cieties or by academic institutions; (b) if
numbered, that began before the Plan was
extended to the country of their publication -
Textbooks of lower than college level -
Theology Translations.
The reasons for the exclusion of
some of the above materials are ap-
parent, but others are clearly of
great value. Some of the reasoning
involved in arriving at the conclu-
sions represented is explained
briefly in the Handbook in its dis-
cussion of the scope of the Plan and
in the debates reported in Part II,
"An Outline of Farmington Plan
History," which is recommended
reading. However, a few comments
seem called for here with regard to
some of the more obvious questions.
For example, medicine is covered by
the U.S. Armed Forces Medical Li-
brary but under its own special ar-
rangements, so the exclusion is
actually a technicality.

Importance of Serials
The value of serials (including
periodicals and in some cases gov-
ernment documents) is not ques-
tioned. In fact, the desirability of
finding a way to bring them in is
repeatedly mentioned in the dis-
cussions reported, and in one place
the Editor states: "It has always
been recognized that serials are
more important than monographs in
many fields..." (page 54). Further,
in the section on "Acquisitions" in
the Report of the Librarian of Con-
gress, 1953 it is stated that it had
become a "chief concern of Dr.
Evans in the light of needs which
had arisen during World War II to
see that important materials were
acquired as they appeared, even
though this meant the regrettable
necessity of almost eliminating the
purchase of rare books, music, manu-
scrips, and noncurrent publications
in the humanities. "Experience had
shown that materials, particularly
serial publications, which today
contain the most useful political
and scientific information, must be
obtained as they are issued or they
are likely to be lost to libraries."

Subject Classification of the Plan
It is to be remembered, however,
that thePlan as it developed through
its first five years was based on a
subject classification system of
acquisitions, and a great number of
valuable serial publications are not
susceptible of neat classification by
subject. Other problems enter in,
such as pre-existing standing orders
for numbered series, which libraries
might already be receiving but not
as a part of the Plan.
Non-trade Publications
It is to be borne in mind also that
the Plan was worked out on the basis
of the acquisition of commercial
books and pamphlets only, to be ob-
tained from designated dealers in
each of the countries covered by the
Plan for the subjects represented in
the classification scheme worked out
by the Farmington Plan Committee.
The outline of the development of
the Plan makes clear the concern of
those who were formulating it for
eventually finding ways to acquire
non-trade publications, including
such materials as the proceedings
and publications of learned societies
and the series of monographs so com-
monly issued under government
sponsorship in various Latin Ameri-
can countries. It was hoped for a
time that a foundation grant might
be secured which would enable the
United States Book Exchange to

serve as a central procurement
agency, but attempts to obtain one
have so far been unavailing. In fact,
the only grant obtained to date was
a small one from the Carnegie Cor-
poration early in 1948 which made
it possible to set up the original
Farmington Plan Office in the New
York Public Library, where during
that first year the receipts from
France, Sweden, and Switzerland
were classified and distributed to
the participating libraries. How to
resolve the question of non-trade
publications remains one of the
problems for which no feasible solu-
tion has yet presented itself.
Literature in the Plan
A further restriction, though not an
actual exclusion, which does not
appear on the list as given in the
Handbook is in the field of literature.
Obviously some criterion is essential
as a basis for selection. In Farming-
ton Plan LetterNo.4, which appeared
on June 18, 1951, Mr. Metcalf called
attention to a previous suggestion
that fiction supplied on the Plan
be restricted to books generally re-
viewed in critical literary periodi-
cals of the country of publication.
The same would presumably apply
to dramatic productions, but no
standards appear to have been ven-
tured for the choice of poetry.
In this connection, it should be
noted that two languages, but only
two English and Spanish are
divided on a geographical basis.
The University of Illinois is re-
sponsible for the acquisition of
Spanish literature from European
sources, while the University of
California at Berkeley is to acquire
that by authors of all non-European
countries. In contrast, the University
of California at Los Angeles is re-
sponsible for obtaining all Portu-
guese literature, whether it originates
in Portugal, Brazil, or elsewhere.
Functioning of the Original Plan
It will be noted that a common
factor in the seventeen countries
from which materials are being se-
cured on a subject basis is that they
are all ones in which the official
language is a major European one.
Further the European countries
listed all enjoy at least a reasonably
well organized book trade. It is not
surprising, however, considering
the contrasting situations involved
to find that in the statistics con-
cerning receipts for 1952 as pub-
lished in the Handbook, there are
four countries omitted: Bolivia,
Ecuador, Peru, and also Australia,
which had been admitted only the
previous year and was presumably

in the process of working out pro-
cedures. It was remarked that few
books had as yet been received
from those countries, a fact which
brings us again to the matters of the
relative importance of individual
items in relation to the total output
and the general question of selec-
The contrast between the output
which is available from Switzerland
and that from Bolivia, its geographi-
cally most comparable counterpart
in South America, provides the basis
for a pertinent illustration of the
relativity of "importance." The
first has of course a highly organized
book trade and a satisfactory nation-
al bibliography. Yet the extent to
which personal judgment enters in,
even when belles-lettres are not
under consideration, is forcefully
demonstrated by the following test
as described in the Handbook (pages
42 and 49).
In 1949 the national bibliography
of Switzerland, Das Schweizer Buch,
had been checked by four librarians,
all of whom had had some experience
with book selection. Omitting fiction,
drama, and poetry, they had checked
for inclusion the 1,022 other items
in the bibliography which seemed
eligible if of sufficient value. Of
this number the four agreed on only
110 items, 85 by unanimous selection
and the remaining 25 by a negative
decision of no votes. On 396 titles
there was a three-to-one division,
with 164 receiving one vote each,
and 232 receiving three apiece. On
the remaining 516 there was a two-
against-two vote, indicating that the
disagreement was not caused by a
lone dissenter. It is evident that the
dealer charged with making the
choice would have the great ad-
vantage of having the materials
themselves before him, and he would
undoubtedly have a degree of famil-
iarity with the writers, the pub-
lishers, and perhaps some of the
subject fields in their national
setting, but it is clear that a great
deal rests on the factor of individual
Bolivia, on the other hand presents
a different type of problem. It is a
country where commercial publica-
tions other than newspapers are few
indeed, and where the great majority
of the Andean Indians do not read or
speak the official language of the
country. For even such items as
are currently being published, no
dependable bibliographical guide is
Publications from Latin America
The Library of Congress has had
long experience in securing important

publications from Latin America,
and the Handbook states that the
matter was given consideration at
one of the 1950 meetings of the
Association of Research Libraries.
It seemed that Mr. Metcalf had urged
dealers to supply more marginal
materials, but that some of them had
been discouraged by occasional
complaints from libraries that they
were receiving "insignificant" pub-
lications which they did not want.
On a later occasion he observed that
most of the complaints as to the re-
ceipt of unimportant material had
come from libraries with relatively
restricted acquisition programs. It
should not be implied, however, that
it is only with respect to the less
literate and Europeanized countries
of Latin America that this situation
prevails. It is the all too general
rule that even in those where book
production is considerable, pub-
lishers sell only their own books so
that each must be dealt with in-
dividually. Even in the several Latin
American countries where much ex-
cellent publishing is currently being
done, there have been until recently
only abortive attempts to provide
anything resembling an adequate
current bibliography. Cuba and Brazil
are leading the way, however, and
other countries have made notable
advances of late.
A Supplementary Plan Adopted
In view of the difficulties of se-
curing books and pamphlets on sub-
ject fields such as those just men-
tioned, the Committee on National
Needs agreed in 1951 that the pub-
lications of some areas might have
to be divided among libraries by
country rather than by subject. The
discussion was particularly con-
cerned with the Caribbean region.
In addition interest was expressed
in the acquisition of materials from
the Middle East and Asia, thereby
introducing a language factor which
it was recognized few libraries
would be prepared to cope with

The University of Florida Joins the
In response to an invitation in 1952
to assume responsibility for Carib-
bean publications, the University of
Florida Libraries agreed to do so
for those of the West Indies, includ-
ing the European mainland posses-
sions, but at least for the present not
for Puerto Rico, as it is assumed that
the Library of Congress receives
from that Commonwealth copyright
copies of all publications which are
of interest under the Plan. This of

course does not mean that the Uni-
versity intends to refrain from the
acquisition of Puerto Rican mate-
rials, but only that it has not yet
obligated itself to secure all

The University of Florida was
among the first to initiate this sec-
ond type of arrangement, under which
it began in June 1952 to attempt to
secure publications in all subjects
covered under the Plan from all parts
of the West Indies. The term is
interpreted in the broad sense as
used by the Caribbean Commission
to include the Guianas and British
Honduras or Belize. However, for
the present at least, responsibility
is not assumed for "all publications"
from Puerto Rico, for it is assumed
that as a Commonwealth of the
United States it sends to the Li-
brary of Congress for copyright pur'
poses copies of all books and pam-
phlets which would be of interest
under the Plan.
The Second Form of the Plan in
It appears that the first library to
undertake the blanket coverage of a
country was Harvard, which in 1951
began its attempt to secure Irish pub-
lications in all subjects. According
to Part VI of the Handbook there are

only four other libraries which are
responsible for more than ten politi-
cal or geographical units: North-
western (parts of Africa), Brandeis
(The Middle East), Cornell (South-
east Asia), and the New York Public
Library (parts of Africa).
Libraries operating under this
second form of the Plan follow the
same procedures as the others for
sending preliminary catalogue cards
to the Union Catalogue at the Library
of Congress within a month of the
receipt of each volume and for sup-
plying copy for cooperative catalogu-
ing if the book seems to merit such
recording. They are likewise re-
sponsible for making the materials
they acquisition available on their
usual terms for interlibrary loan or
photographic reproduction.
A difference is that since these
operations are completely decentral-
ized, in contrast to the operations of
the Farmington Plan Office, and
since it is assumed that a sizable
portion, perhaps the great majority
in some cases, of materials received
from various of the entities covered
on an "all publications" basis will
be acquired as gifts or exchanges,
the same types of statistics as to
books received and their cost will
not be available as are those for ac-
quisitions through Farmington Plan
dealers and the central Office. Part
V of the Handbook gives such sta-

tistics as were available for 1948-
The Plan Positive in Apprpach
It should be emphasized in closing
that the Plan is entirely positive in
its approach. The fact that one li-
brary is under obligation to acquire
materials does not affect what other
libraries do to meet their own de-
sires or needs except possibly that
it may help pave the way in some
instances for more satisfactory ac-
quisition procedures. While only one
library is specifically the Farmington
Plan representative for any one as-
signment, it is understood that the
program is a minimum one, and in
many cases it is highly desirable
that there be secured and made avail-
able more than the single copy which
Plan members are responsible for
attempting to obtain. Another library
may be more successful in given in-
stances, and there is always the ele-
ment of judgment, as was illustrated
by the case of the purchases in
The University of Florida Libraries
feel that they have made a creditable
degree of progress in their first
year under the Plan, but space is
not available at this time for even
what might be called a progress re-
port. However, questions will be
welcomed, as well as whatever co-
operation may be offered.

,,iv 0, "

Miss Zimmerman is a member of the Reference Department of
the University of Florida staff, its Latin American Specialist.
She is a Kansan by birth, a United Statsen by virtue of resi-
dence and teaching experience in various parts of the country.
She reports that as a habitue of libraries she was eventually
recruited to the profession by librarian friends in the univer-
sity where she was currently teaching Spanish and Spanish
American Literature who talked of the needs and opportunities
for librarians with language backgrounds. Upon acquiring an
M.A.L.S. degree from the University of Michigan she proceeded
immediately to the University of Florida, where she has, as
predicted, found use for all such experience as she had accumu-
lated and the most interesting job she has encountered.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs