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Reimagining Unique Collections through Digitization

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Description

This panel examines how archival, rare, and special collections are preserved, enhanced, and reimagined through the process of digitization. Panelists from academic, nonprofit, and museum libraries discuss strategies and best practices for ongoing digitization projects that support new directions in the life cycle of unique collections. Topics discussed include the use of digital platforms, preservation efforts, creating metadata, copyright issues, accessibility, and the challenges and opportunities these projects have revealed.

At the University of Kansas the digital platform Omeka was used to build an online archive, bringing together humanist commentary with digitized archival images of a 125-year-old, world-renowned natural history diorama. Online access to the historic images of this exhibit allow the enhancement of its narrative and the ability to reach a wider audience. Affordances of a digital platform, such as interactive mapping, timelines, and the creation of metadata allows for the contextualization and comparison of materials which are physically dispersed.

In 2017, the American Craft Council received a large donation of books and artist file materials from the Friends of Fiber Art International, along with a large monetary donation for digitization of the artist files. Since then, digitization has been completed. Approximately one third of the digital objects have metadata records and have been published online into the ACC’s digital collections. Beth Goodrich, Librarian at the American Craft Council, will highlight the selection process for digitizing materials and the challenges (and unanticipated benefits) of requesting permission from the artists to make the content available online.

The Fashion Resource Center and the Textiles Resource Center are two of the special collections at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Both operate as hybrid research facilities embedded within academic departments, which maintain unique hands-on collections that support artistic practice and scholarship across campus. The Fashion Resource Center’s collection consists of more than 600 garments and 200 accessories that exemplify avant-garde designs, fabrics, and construction techniques by some of the most prominent designers of the 20th and 21st centuries. The Textile Resource Center holds a collection of almost 400 objects from the historic and contemporary world of textiles. Melanie Emerson discusses the process of providing greater accessibility and discoverability of these materials through the Library's Digital Collections.

Contributors

  • Meredith Hale

    Metadata Librarian, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

  • Beth Goodrich

  • Melanie Emerson

  • Andrea Pitt

  • Andi Back