Detail from artist book based on the Triadic Tapes, 1976. Paul Ryan papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

An Invitation from a Smithsonian Archivist

I received the following note yesterday from Megan McShea, an archivist at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. She’s invited all of us to explore, and provide feedback on, a “Hidden Collections” program at the AAA “that aims to make archival media” — including the papers of former Media Studies faculty member Paul Ryan — “less hidden in manuscript collections, or to be more accurate, mixed-media archival collections.”

The project starts with the recognition that audiovisual media have languished in the archival repository setting, often poorly or inaccurately described or not described at all amidst its related paper records. We’re seeking to develop benchmarks and guidelines to address the problem, which I see as pervasive in archives. The focus for us has been on how to make EAD behave better to this purpose, but also how to improve our workflows and processes at all stages of collections’ lifecycle to keep media from getting hidden.

…Our project focus is really intellectual accessibility delivered in a fairly traditional way. We’re sort of thinking inside the box, leveraging existing standards. But if you’d like to know more about it or point your students to it, below are some links. It would be super for us to have more eyes on the work, the collections, and to kick the tires of the whole enterprise.

You’ll find more technical documentation here