Posted: 05/04/2012 10:59 am
This is an exciting time to work in libraries — technology affords us the opportunity to make accessible materials that have for years been kept in dark rooms in protective boxes.
The British Library just purchased the world’s oldest book and it is already available for viewing online. It is amazing that this single book survived since around AD689 when it was buried alongside St. Cuthbert on the island of Lindisfarne.
St. Cuthbert’s coffin was moved to Durham to escape Viking raiders and the book was discovered when the coffin was opened in 1104. The British Library raised 9 million pounds in order to purchase this treasure.
But what’s great about the digital age is that we don’t all have to raise millions of dollars to make hidden treasures available. We can harness technology to tell our stories. Modern technology provides the opportunity to capture images and text and even create your own books.
Jane just returned from the Northwest Archivists Conference — where archivists and cultural heritage professionals spent three days sharing their stories of unique digital projects as well as their efforts to capture the documents of today for the archives of tomorrow.
For example, Linfield College established the Oregon Wine History Archive which preserves historical documents and images, and even interviews with local winemakers. This is an example of a project that blends the historical with the contemporary and we applaud Linfield for their innovative approach to collecting today’s history for tomorrow’s generations!
But our favorite was local filmmaker Michael Turner’s latest project titled The Life of Vesper Geer: A Biographical Documentary of an Oregon Woman. Turner turned to historical photos and documents along with interviews to create a moving portrait of an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life.
To paraphrase Turner, all of us have our own boxes of pictures and memories — and he took those to create a story that will engage the viewer and hopefully instill curiosity in a new generation about their past.
We started to think about what is in our boxes. Jane has all her father’s letters from when he was in the Merchant Marines — he was on the first ship to enter Japan after the war and writes about his encounters with Japanese officers.
She also keeps her father-in-law’s log from the time he was adrift on the sea in the Atlantic for 22 days after being torpedoed by the Germans during WWII — a moving, personal story about the hardships of war. Barb has letters from her husband’s great-great grandfather, who emigrated to Mexico, married, and whose family eventually produced Vincente Fox, the former president of Mexico.
Everyone has a story, everyone has a box — what’s in yours? What will happen to it after you are gone? Tell us please.