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http://www.concordia.ca/content/shared/en/news/main/stories/2015/11/18/archives-partners-with-special-collections-creates-research-catalogue.html

From vintage finds to institutional lore

Presenting Concordia’s new Archives and Special Collections Catalogue
November 18, 2015
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“It’s a living platform,” says Alexandra Mills, Special Collections curator, “We’ll be constantly adding new material and descriptions as we acquire and process new holdings. It will evolve over time.” “It’s a living platform,” says Alexandra Mills, Special Collections curator, “We’ll be constantly adding new material and descriptions as we acquire and process new holdings. It will evolve over time.”


Looking for a black and white photo of Irving Layton? A vintage map of Montreal? How about photos from a Communication Arts open house at Concordia, in 1974?

Now, there’s a new, shared catalogue describing Concordia’s archives and the library’s special collections. It’s a one-stop-shop for students, faculty, staff and international researchers. And it’s online.

On October 29, 2015, the open-source Archives and Special Collections Catalogue went live. It contains over 3,000 descriptions of holdings available online, including 1,500 photos and documents from the university's 400 institutional archival fonds. 

The Johnny Holmes Orchestra on stage at Victoria Hall. | Courtesy: Records Management and Archives The Johnny Holmes Orchestra on stage at Victoria Hall. | Courtesy: Records Management and Archives

Work started in January of this year, when staff from both Records Management and Archives (RMA) and Concordia's Libraries developed a user guide to make sure all the descriptions were consistent. Then the writing and digitization began in earnest.

Easier digital access

“The catalogue is the result of a collaboration — the first one — between my team and the library,” says Marie-Pierre Aubé, director of RMA. “The idea is to break down silos to achieve results. In this case, that meant putting our resources in the same place. It made sense to do it together.”

Today, there is an expectation that everything is digitized, Aubé notes, adding that Nathalie Hodgson, Archives Management lead with RMA, and her team are working to make the most of Concordia’s holdings accessible via the new catalogue.

“That’s something to celebrate, as is our partnership with RMA,” says Guylaine Beaudry, university librarian. “We have 145 special collections, composed of textual records, photographs, audio and video recordings, artwork, maps and more. These unique documents are part of what gives our library a distinct personality.”

Preserving institutional memory

Another key outcome of the new catalogue is reputational — it highlights the history and legacy of the university.

“We are committed to preserving our institutional memory, and the catalogue is an ideal vehicle to further explain the role of Concordia in the development of Montreal, Canada and the world,” says Bram Freedman, vice-president of Development and External Relations, and Secretary-General.

Provost Benoit-Antoine Bacon praised the Library and Archives for working together across sectors and cites the catalogue as a working example of one of Concordia’s nine strategic directions — “mix it up”.

The Communication Arts Open House, in 1974.  Courtesy of Records Management and Archives The Communication Arts Open House, in 1974. Courtesy of Records Management and Archives

“Two distinct services came together because it simply made sense to do so, and everybody wins. The result improves institutional visibility for the library’s special collections, plus the archives’ unique documents on topics including the Holocaust, jazz in Montreal and the local Irish community,” says Bacon.

A living platform

For Alexandra Mills, Special Collections curator, creating the new catalogue was an opportunity to see which existing descriptions needed to be tweaked, and to evaluate how researchers access the materials. She sees it as a work in progress.

“It’s a living platform,” says Mills, who worked closely with Hodgson from RMA on the project. “We’ll be constantly adding new material and descriptions as we acquire and process new holdings. It will evolve over time.”


Visit the new
Archives and Special Collections Catalogue.

For queries, send an email to archives@concordia.ca.

 



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