Friday November 12, 2010 was a special day for users of Twitter and users of archives. The day was designated as “Follow An Archive Day” or, to use the Twitter hashtag, #followanarchiveday
All over the world, archives were encouraging users to visit an archive and tweet about it. These archives could send out tweets reminding the world of its existence. (Twitter hashtags, i.e. the word preceded by a # sign, allow for posts from different users to be searched and retrieved by the hashtag). As one researcher put it:
"We gather, preserve, organize and provide access to the materials that reflect human knowledge."
The Music Division was fortunate to be graced by a visiting class from Juilliard. Six graduate students learned about the riches of the Music Division and were able to see examples from our archival collections including those from George Antheil (a manuscript for his Ballet mécanique), the recently deceased Jerry Bock, composer of the musical Fiddler on the Roof (they say material from Fiddler On The Roof, including sketches and rejected songs), John Cage (his Water Walk and its accompanying sketches), and Arturo Toscanini (a score of the opera La Fanciulla del West annotated by its composer Giacomo Puccini and Toscanini).
During the remainder of the day, tweets were sent out by The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts giving links to online finding aids. As a result, we gained over 20 new follows to LPA's Twitter stream!
I was excited by the idea of "Follow An Archive Day" - that so many institutions could focus on the challenge of bringing our archives to light for the benefit of researchers. To this end, I hope this coming year will give me the chance to expose some of our "under-processed" collections. These collections are not listed in the online catalog because most of them were acquired prior to the Library's adoption of computer technology in 1971.
They lack finding aids, but many contain inventories typed on cards:
Inventories of archival collections on typed cards
Initial experiments with scanning these cards to produce provisional finding aids have been promising. (To give you an idea of the scope, our online finding aids represent only about one-sixth of the total number of archival collections in the Music Division.)
Hopefully by next year's "Follow An Archive Day," the online catalog will contain more of these collections with linked inventories, opening up many new research opportunities "to provide access to the materials that reflect human knowledge."
Boxes of under-processed archival collections