Library Journal: Digitizing special collections and putting them online, a process that marks a golden age for libraries. No longer are collections limited by physical access available only to a few.
Indeed, digitization, high-speed connections, and suites of powerful new tools that allow students and researchers to interact as never before with collections are breaking them free from their climate-controlled exile and putting valuable special collections at the center of exciting new partnerships among librarians, faculty, students, and technicians. It’s still early—but already the results are remarkable.
At Columbia, initiatives like the Columbia University Libraries Digital Program bring together librarians, faculty, and technicians to create cutting-edge digital representations and research tools.
With opportunities and benefits, the challenges remain: acquisition (funding), and resources to care for the collection in perpetuity.
Where Oral History fits in: Unlike rare artifacts that may be collected piece-by-piece, libraries are interested in the larger context, and so they have collections of multiple items. The collective aspect elevates the significance of what might otherwise by ordinary. Oral histories belong in the more “commonplace” category. Multiple people recollect events that share a common theme: place, a time period, an event or common occupation.