American Collections blog

24 March 2011


Less of a post about the collections today, more just a note on the day-to-day work of the section and where we are on the civil war project.

As I type, there is the sound of Aquiles talking to the our new Latin American curator as part of his handover before he joins the digital curation team full time; I catch the odd word about particular folders, the best dealers to work with, some of the interesting areas that he's built up.  Meanwhile, Carole had been drafted in as our own version of Eisenhower in advance of D-Day, helping to push through a similar logistical feat ahead of the curatorial office moves within St Pancras: not summoning up Mulberry harbours, but transit boxes and crates, and making sure that everyone lands on the right beaches.  I think I can hear the sound of Phil pondering items for the 2012 exhibition to tie in with the London Olympics, and it looks to me as though Nicholas and Jerry are quietly dealing with some enquiries.

Meanwhile, I've heard the the digitisation component of the Civil War programme has passed the second of its two approval committees, and the materials can now be looked at by colleagues in Conservation before they are sent to the photographic studios.  This approval process is not to be overlooked, and together with booking the studio time, it means that first bit of the project to go live will be an Online Gallery exhibition, to be launched in April.   Fully digitised items will follow later in early summer, thanks to Bill and Kay showing me how the two systems behind the live site work (it relies on a cataloguing system, to ensure we have the right metadata, and a 'digital image presentation system' to provide high-quality, zoomable images). 

I've spent the morning going through the list of items, adding shelfmarks, and also selecting some things for a 'show and tell' for some visitors next week.  As these are in a number of collection areas, I've been speaking to colleagues to arrange delivery of the items - maps, manuscripts, music - to the right room.  A small pile of post needs to be dealt with, and then I can return to the CMS (content management system) to finish building the online gallery in time for our external advisors to check the copy and make sure that I'm not playing fast and loose with the historical record. 12 April is not far away...




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