Print

Print


Maureen, you should post this as a reply on the site.  Great points.

Michele

On 8/7/2014 11:39 AM, Callahan, Maureen wrote:
> I think a few things about this:
>
> 1.This is kind of a silly post based on misunderstandings of archival functions,
> and maybe we shouldn’t feed the trolls? Obviously, her point of view on this is
> financially advantageous to her. However, I *do* think that we can and should be
> digitizing more of our holdings. I wrote about this in the context of a job I
> had previously, here
> <http://blogs.princeton.edu/mudd/2013/02/why-and-how-we-digitize/>.
>
> 2.That having been said, I don’t really understand the data model she’s
> proposing. A zillion item nodes, each beautifully described, floating in the
> cosmos of the internet? This, to me, is the digital equivalent of the garbage
> bag full of paper. The structure of a finding aid helps us understand what came
> before, what came after, and how it all relates to each other. More than that,
> it’s a way for us to record the stuff that isn’t in the records themselves –
> where this came from, what happened to it before it was here. And the best
> finding aids provide a descriptive superstructure that makes sense of it all, in
> a way that just trawling through the records can’t do.
>
> 3.We can’t describe each item. Think of all the crazy projects in the 1960s and
> 1970s to create index cards for each piece of correspondence in a collection. In
> so many cases, the work was never finished – because it’s impossible and kind of
> unnecessary.
>
> 4.Even if we could describe each item, we shouldn’t. I really think that our
> professional practice is about making choices about appropriate levels of
> description and giving the right kinds of meaningful information in that
> description. More, I really believe, isn’t better. Better is better. She’s not
> wrong that contents lists are often weak, but I don’t think that it’s because we
> don’t have enough information. I think it’s because we often give kind of
> useless information (“correspondence – general.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Why was it
> produced? What kinds of evidence of historical events does this provide?)
>
> But that’s just me.
>
> Maureen
>
> Maureen Callahan
>