Benjamin Jackson, Re-examining Collections Through Digital Storytelling

Ben Jackson is a project archivist working with the Keesing Collection on Popular Music and Culture in Special Collections in Performing Arts at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, University of Maryland, College Park. Ben is also a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at UMD with research centering on contemporary jazz performance and narrative.

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Saturday Program
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Conveying the scope of collections and holdings and engaging the widest range of users has always been a vexing, primary concern for those working in libraries of all disciplines. In this presentation, I consider how open-source platforms have made digital storytelling an effective and increasingly accessible means for those in libraries to connect and contextualize their materials with a broad audience. Being employed as a project archivist hired to work with the Keesing Collection on Popular Music and Culture at Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland, College Park I have had the fairly unique opportunity to undertake digital humanities projects to encourage research with the collections. My most recent project has been to develop online exhibits exploring our new holdings that focus on the intersections between popular music and the major conflicts in which the United States was a combatant in the twentieth century. While I consider myself engaged in the sphere of digital humanities, my relative lack of experience in most kind of scripting and coding at first discouraged me from attempting anything outside of an article or exhibit-style approach to presenting the collection. With the rapid expansion of open-source projects, elements like flowing timelines and interactive charts and graphs are now far less time-consuming to make and dependent on a deep knowledge of web design. These tools were used in the Keeping project to consider issues like how the vocabulary of American songwriters during the Second World War changed by year or how the relative popularity of songs addressing Vietnam was reflected in the pop charts over the course of the conflict. In presenting this case-study alongside general discussion of digital storytelling for music libraries I hope to highlight some of the opportunities these platforms afford to engage new and expanding populations

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