Tuesday, August 11, 2015

An Uncustomary Wish granted


As this blog has grown farther afield from its original themes, so has your Bookcharmer expanded her realms.  Really!  I have the privilege this year of serving as the Interim Director of Special Collections at my institution and am wasting no time in guzzling up all the archival goodness I possibly can in the coming months.  There is a lot to learn:  how archives are organized, maintained, processing plans, digital records...and preservation issues to which I'll return to in a moment.

The other realm I'm expanding in is artmaking.  I met an artist at a show this summer that, upon hearing my waffle-y answer about being an art librarian, not really an artist, just a dabbler, he interrupted my waffling and said, "if you make art, you are an artist."  I took that advice seriously and while I haven't gone so far as practicing my signature I have gotten more serious about taking time to make art.  This has led me to the joyful world of Uncustomary Art, the life and lively times of a Baltimore artist who uses a variety of interactive art platforms, including mail art and Instagram.  In participating in her #UncustomaryAugust challenge on Instagram, I found myself somewhat stymied by today's challenge:  Wish.

Today, I had a wish granted that I had not yet even been able to articulate in my mind.  Today my library had a visit from a representative with a tremendous emerging resource, Reveal Digital which you can read all about at http://www.revealdigital.com/how-it-works/.  Simply put, this company is using crowdfunding to raise funds to digitize underground newspapers and little magazines and offer content to subscribers.  What is even more exciting is that once costs are covered, then content will ultimately be open access.

I can't begin to tell you the joyful dance my brain started doing when I started taking in all these details.  First, digitizing important primary sources before they start disintegrating, as a lot of these independent publications were issued on inexpensive newsprint or perhaps even mimeographed office paper.  Second, crowdfunding it so that people interested in this topic can support it and make it affordable.  Three:  Open Access.  After more than a decade of dwindling collections budgets and spiraling database subscriptions, the fact that a vendor is coming at the issue of access with a totally new model is So. Great.  Now that's a "disruption" that is truly innovative and game-changing.

So, my wish of people knowing the history of civil rights in the United States is going to be much more possible knowing that a team of writers, researchers, and publishers have been working like crazy to get this project off the ground and it is well on its way to becoming a digital presence.

Please support this project by sharing it with librarians, researchers, and colleagues.

Bookcharmingly yours,

The Bookcharmer

No comments: