A Balancing Act: Digital and Physical Access to Ephemera at the Harvard Theatre Collection
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CitationHoggatt, Micah Jared. A Balancing Act: Digital and Physical Access to Ephemera at the Harvard Theatre Collection. In Body, Mind, Artifact: Reimagining Collections: Proceedings from the Theatre Library Association (TLA) & International Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts (SIBMAS) 30th Congress: New York, NY, June 11-13, 2014.
AbstractAs we enter an age of born digital material and digitized facsimiles of physical items, what does responsible access for ephemera in a performing arts collection look like? What are the needs of researchers and course instructors in regards to theatrical ephemera? This depends in part on the patron and her research project, or the instructor and her pedagogical goals. Among users of the Harvard Theatre Collection, a tension of needs has developed - a demand for increased digitization and a demand for increased physical access.
This paper will explore how these needs have manifested, and how we have attempted to address them. The paper will discuss the many different kinds of patrons that a performing arts collection attracts: scholars, practitioners, students, etc. All of these groups have various needs, some of which are better met through digital facsimiles, and some of which can only be met by the physical object. This discussion will center around concrete examples of work with various patron groups, including off-site researchers self-curating digitization through reproduction requests; actors, directors, playwrights and composers whose work required a concrete experience with physical objects; undergraduate students assigned to work closely each week with physical material and then lead class discussions related to it; undergraduate and graduate students assigned to locate and digitize material in the collection, then curate online presentations for their classmates; and the needs of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the horizon.
Central to all of this is ongoing work in the collection to increase bibliographic control and description. Patron desire for remote access and digitization, combined with reduction in staffing, have caused the previous method of access to ephemera (staff mediated searching of uncataloged arranged series) to become unfeasible. Beyond the (deceptively) simple goal of transparency in holdings, any digitization project requires at least a modicum of metadata. A cross departmental team was assembled to address the issue, and the collection is shifting to a model of description rather than solely physical arrangement. The methods of description we have employed will be discussed, along with their implications for acquisitions, reference, digitization, and physical access.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:31887336
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