Today I will be delivering an overdue blog post. I’m not sure what happened, but I looked up and two weeks had gone by. I guess that’s what data entry does to you. Last week brought much progress, but not much in the way of exciting images or commentary. I finished entering the Marcel Marceau American Collection into Past Perfect which was very exciting (the finishing, not the entering). The next and final step will be to create the finding aid. I hope I am able to eek out enough time to do this before I go home. I’ve worked this collection from the very beginning – and it very much feels like my baby. I’d like to see it through completion. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, as I’ve moved on to the next phase of my fellowship – my practicum!
Yes, the time has come for me to pull up my freshly planted roots at TRI and head off to new territory. I must admit to missing the place already – I really enjoyed the environment of such a great library with wonderful staff. Everyone was so friendly, helpful, and really great at what they did. I’ll especially miss the company of Rachael, Brian, August, Orville, and the other residents of the processing room. However, the exciting thing about leaving is finding my new home and project. While I’ve heard sketchy stories about the places companies can keep their records, I’ve lucked out and found myself in a wonderful office in downtown Columbus where I’ll be spending most of my time for the foreseeable future.
As mentioned before, I’m working with the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company to help establish a company archive. I’m absolutely loving working with their material! They do some really amazing and inventive things. Kristina Isabelle has been very inspired by stilts and uses them in many of her pieces. There is something otherworldly about watching dance on stilts. It really makes you think differently about space and movement. As I’m currently going through the company’s DVDs to catalog and organize them, I’ve gotten to see a lot of their work and have been blown away by a lot of the pieces. Many of her dances have this dark and ethereal feel to them and I think it’s amazing.
As soon as I made it to my site, I quickly set to work making an inventory and looking at the materials. As you’ll be can see, I’m sprinkling the images throughout. There are a lot of moving image materials (DVDs, VHS tapes, Mini DVs, 8mm tapes, and such), programs, fliers, press materials, and other random notes and notebooks. As this is a young company, I don’t have an overwhelming amount of material which is great, because I think it’s going to allow me to do a lot of great stuff with the material that is there. I immediately set to work physically organizing the material and started creating databases to make the material searchable. With a huge collection, an item level inventory might be infeasible, but this collection is the perfect size for such a project.
To put in perspective how much of an information lover I am at heart – I’ve actually really enjoyed creating and entering information into the database. I’m going to have to take this opportunity to blast my love affair with Filemaker Pro. Seriously, this program is amazing and the newest version (12) is even more user-friendly than the last version. It was my first professional equipment investment and I have been nothing but happy about it. My favorite feature is the sort function. I can seriously sort my database in any way I want, by any field and even hierarchically. It makes finding and organizing things so easy. I recommend it to anyone. I even plan to use this thing to inventory my pantry when I get home. (Seriously, I’ve already started a Groceries database)
As of right now, I’ve databased all of the moving image material except the DVDs, which I am steadily making my way through. As I mentioned earlier, I’m rather enjoying the process. I’ve found everything from interesting interviews, stirring dance pieces, and a video of 3 stilt-walkers dressed as flamingoes being herded around by Kristina Isabelle dressed as a zookeeper during a Gallery Hop event (Which I absolutely ha watch in its entirety). After finishing that, I plan on moving on to the programs, promotional materials and other papers. One of the things I will be doing for the company is set up a sustainable system for organizing materials. Part of this system will include a rotation schedule that will assure that the most recent materials are most accessible, while the older, less used materials makes their way into the archive in an organized and safe manner. I’m hoping to sell them on the idea of databasing, but am not holding my breath -as I’m sure most people don’t find the prospect of FileMaker as exciting as I do.
One of the things that really excited me about working with this company was their digital material. While there is something undeniably warm and charming about analog materials – there is no doubt that digital is the next frontier of records. It’s great to get a chance to work hands-on with these materials and to do so early enough in the records’ life to assure their optimal survival. As anyone with a stack of floppy discs knows, while digital material is exciting, convenient, quick, and amazing – it also dates itself very quickly, and can become obsolete before you realize it. Because of this, it’s of the utmost importance that people and organizations start thinking about preservation of these materials as soon as possible. This collection offers me a wonderful opportunity to contribute to these thought processes and hopefully come up with some lasting solutions.
And that has been my last two weeks in a nutshell. I have many more ideas for this project and look forward to telling you about them next week. Until then, I’ll be camped in front of my computer, sipping coffee, watching videos, entering metadata, and wondering what I ever did to deserve such an awesome job.
Until next time,