Share in our discoveries across three projects as we work to provide the first intellectual access to our hidden treasures relating to work and labor in early 20th Century New England, the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair and its period, and Boston local TV news.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The CLIR Symposium

The 2010 CLIR Symposium in Washington, D.C. March 29th - 31st offered an invaluable opportunity to explore the CLIR Hidden Collections projects as a community - a community including previous and current project grantees, scholars, and professionals looking to further best practices in creating access to our hidden collections, and, also, seeking the best way to keep the community thriving beyond the granted project periods.

Northeast Historic Film represents one of two media collections funded by the CLIR Mellon Hidden Collections program. Project Manager, Karan Sheldon, and I were glad to split up and offer our sides of various theories and thoughts regarding the best way to provide access to our hidden film treasures. The main theme of our first breakout sessions had us all exploring our usage of scholars in our projects. We then branched into how institutions use emerging professionals and students in grant projects. Both of which really spoke to outreach methods, and the implementation of More Product, Less Process practices. Scholars are likely advocates who can spread the word about collections while singing the praises of institutions, and students (primarily undergraduate populations in university libraries) are used for the quick high-level processing and initial inventory data collection. I like how both groups are used in the development and implementation of management tools/methodology.

I was fortunate to attend a small session focused on the choice and application of standards in a project, and how these choices affect project outcomes. We discussed authority work, collaborations, data conversion issues, and the development of training materials for institutions ranging in size from Ivy League universities to historical societies working with a little less than a handful of permanent staff members. I was one of two people from a smaller institution in the session. I was only one of two people who had been actively defining (providing scope and usage notes) for vocabularies used to describe collections. This is where standards are tricky. We use standardized vocabularies, but not always in the way the defining authority is using them. Why do we not discuss this more? Why are our descriptive vocabularies not transparent and readily available?

Overall, I had a great time getting to know our CLIR community, beginning countless conversations, and am looking forward to continuing them.

Here I am (center) discussing our NHF project poster with Gail Malmgreen (left) of the Tamiment Library at NYU and Mary Morganti (right) of the California Historical Society. We are hoping to help CHS develop the model for their eventual film undertakings!


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