Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A few thoughts in Mining the home movie: Excavations in histories and memories

Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and MemoriesMining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories by Karen L. Ishizuka
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book as I am thinking about the importance of home movies in local studies collections. This book is not about public libraries, but about national and regional collections of film, some of which include home movies. The chapters describe the research potential of ordinary film. Some has value because of who is in it, someone famous, people interned, and in many cases, people now dead. Often the value is in the ordinariness of what is filmed, such as scone making at a fair. As an aside I hope there is film over time of scone making in Australia, I will have to track that down.

This is a book looking at film, and some times video. There is no coverage of collecting digital material. This seems a gap, although is may be because little is collected, but that is speculation. There is also little discussion about digitisation.

There are some very impressive collections, and some which often seem to record oral histories to better describe the film being collected. The Imperial War Museum, is one of those organisations.

The Florida Moving Image Archive highlights the research value from film with changes in communities, national parks and skylines all being clear. The chapter on this archive highlights the tourism and migration potential of film, as people would travel to Florida for holidays, or to live there, after having seems someone's home movie. They have an active public access program combing bus tours and viewing of local home movies.

Other experiences such as internment were illegally filmed record is key for documenting this time in the USA, as are the films of labour disputes in New Zealand.

There is considerable discussion in some chapters about the need for more representation in minority voices, which seems to include women, as not many women are credited with filming, although there are exceptions such as Mussarath Khan and Leela Anjanappa, both from India.

The North West Film Archive in England, was set up to collect film about daily life. It highlights the importance to regional and local history. They are working at developing audiences of their films showing them in places such as shopping centres, hospitals and remand centres.

I am only providing a few examples from this very interesting book. I still need to track down how digital material is being collected by these and other organisations, so that recent content will be collected and preserved. Otherwise it will be like early film which has been poorly stored and will. It will not be viewable for the future.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Some thoughts on Archives alive: expanding engagement with public library archives and special collections by Diantha Dow Schull

Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special CollectionsArchives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections by Diantha Dow Schull
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an impressive look at special collections in public libraries in the USA, and much of it relates to local studies collections. This books looks at how different public libraries connect their special collections with their community, highlighting that one of the key reasons for public libraries collecting material is to make it available for their community.

The chapters explore different topics such as art and archives, community archives, exhibitions and related programs, and interactive archives. Within each chapter are several good practice examples showing how it is possible to connect communities with special collections. Each example is given with a overview, challenges and future plans, so while this is an optimistic book, the tough information is also made available.

As well as showing impressive heritage collections there are some exciting examples of libraries collecting recent content about local events including disasters such as hurricanes, floods and fires.

There are several very good examples showing how libraries have collected recent content to fill historical collections gaps, for example interviews with Spanish speaking residents in areas where there has been a long history of them living, but they were not visible in the local studies collection. Another library traced the families of Japanese residents who had been interred in World War II, as a way to better reflect the whole community. There are some lovely oral history projects recording diverse experiences of neighbourhoods.

Different kinds of programs to expose the collections were described, such as talks (often filmed), demonstrating and filming dance with the performances then becoming part of the collection, and connecting artists of all sorts to special collections for different ways of interpreting and being inspired by their content.

This is a very exciting book with many impressive examples to explore online.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A few thoughts about Greek cafes and milk bars of Australia by Effy Alexakis and Leonard Janiszewski

Greek cafes and milk bars of AustraliaGreek cafes and milk bars of Australia by Effy Alexakis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a lovely book (and I can't believe it was not already on Goodreads).

This detailed study of Greek cafes and milk bars, in Australia, looks at both the big picture of their history, but also in the detail, the individual stories of the cafes and milk bars. Through a mix of oral history, old and new photographs, a wonderful, complex story is told. It is joyful, sad, nostalgic and modern. This is a book to keep dipping into as each person and each cafe is explored.

This would be an excellent addition to many local studies collections across Australia as the cafes and milk bars and the people who ran them or who run them are featured. I was able to read about several Greek cafes I know, from where I grew up, but also places I have visited.

This is an excellent local studies book. One minor comment, it would have been helpful to have an index entry for all the towns mentioned, the cafes and people are searchable in the index, but not the towns. Perhaps this addition could be considered for a second edition.

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