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.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hellooo, New Hampshire!

By wonder of Skype technology, I was able to visit an undergraduate Media Studies course taught by Dr. Mark J. Williams at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire last Thursday afternoon without leaving my post here in Bucksport!

The course itself is a survey of the effects of the rise of digital culture. I was very glad to introduce the topic of developing online archives and the use of open-source software to make archival collections accessible online. The students' previous exposure to archival collections online was in reference to large-scale corporate projects (NBC archives, for example). Our CLIR Project was a great way to introduce how technology is being applied at a regional nonprofit with a more communal or "local" focus.

I created logins for the students to explore our CollectiveAccess database, and gave a little demo regarding how I go about creating a finding aid - a process currently involving the use of three modules within the database (Entities, Accessions, Collections), and how that process has developed over time.

The students were most interested in how we are capturing (importing, exporting, organizing) our metadata - and vehemently calling for entire collections to be digitized for the public to catalog online. The nerd/librarian in me was thrilled to engage the students about standards and how we are applying them in our CLIR work. There were a lot of great thoughts regarding tagging vs. applying standardized subject headings - and the use of controlled tags so that the public could still participate in the cataloging process within a chosen standard.

Many of the students are convinced that the complete digitization of each film will both solve our cataloging needs and generate the revenue we would need to keep digitizing...and I like this about them. We had a great back and forth about the role of institutions and how collections relate to one another beyond data mapping, etc. (I found myself defending the physical while they defended the digital -- resulting in a stalemate!)

Overall, I had a lovely visit -- it was a great opportunity to think about this project in relation to "the rise of digital culture" and definitely a treat to discuss the future of our collections with the future of our profession.


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