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Friday, March 29, 2013

Accessing BAM’s Past: A New Digitization Grant for the Archives

by Sarah Gentile

1861 to 2013 is a long history for a Brooklyn institution. With all of the intensity of the now in performance, it’s easy to lose sight of the past without careful planning and preservation of the varied events that make up BAM’s history. That’s why we at the BAM Hamm Archives are especially excited to have a chance to record and share BAM’s past through a generous donation from the Leon Levy Foundation. Ultimately, we aim to share BAM’s history with the public, though there are a lot of steps along the way.

One of the major components of this project is cataloging. We’ve chosen Collective Access as our open-source cataloging software. Cataloging the performance history of the institution is the first step to another major component of the project: digitization. But while digitization seems to be on everyone’s lips when it comes to projects in libraries and archives, it’s not just about preservation; it's information access. And access is what this project is all about. We want to share the complex and illuminating history that tells the story of BAM. We want you to have access, whether you’re an academic researcher, a high school student, or a curious member of the general public. When the project is complete, this work will provide the public with online access, where you will be able to search and navigate whatever interests you most, whenever you want.

Over the next weeks, we’ll blog about the work that makes the project tick. While we’re cataloging, we are focused on entities, objects, events, and works. We'll tell you more about these terms and how they relate to the images and information you seek. We’ll look at how we think about these cataloging decisions and what that means when you can eventually access the Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive. Along with a performance history timeline, you'll see some behind-the-scenes content that you’ve come to love from the blog. The best thing is, when this project is complete, you can search for your own bits of history—from photographs of Robert Wilson to video clips of Laurie Anderson performing to programs from the very first nights of performance in the Peter Jay Sharp building on Lafayette Avenue. 

Stay tuned to the blog and look for more posts under this title for more on the project.

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