Finding Aids for Various Collections

In the world of archivist librarians, the Finding Aid is a sort of vade mecum: a means to facilitate entry to often-multifarious Collections, heterogenous groupings of bits of text and realia which may be difficult to catalog, describe, index, and otherwise make accessible to potential users. Art and science may be required for the construction of effective Finding Aids, particularly when the collections are mixed analog and digital media and may not be readily co-located in a single place, and especially so when collections interdigitate. Thus, Turkish and Greek music are related but sometimes uncomfortable bedfellows, and have close cousins in Arabic and Balkan musical traditions. These all fit under the sprawling rubric 'Music', but the books, articles, videos, and instruments I've collected that belong with 'Turkish' and 'Greek' are obviously linked to the vinyl, the CDs, the videos, the cassette tapes, and the MP3 files that are 'Turkish' and 'Greek'. The complications of the sub-worlds of Smyrnaica and Rembetika forms, the contributions of various regional 'folk' traditions, and the place of Gypsy and Sephardic and Armenian musicians in recorded music that is otherwise 'Turkish' or 'Greek' are all elements of the complexity that a Finding Aid should make more accessible.

The same problems of interlinked collections raises its head again and again in my holdings, and is entangled with stories I've constructed to make sense of my enthusiasms. It's interesting and valuable, indeed full-on heuristic, to explore and annotate and narrate pathways through these collections and connections, even if the exercise is only for myself. Any narrative I construct is always provisional, contingent upon new discoveries and new acquisitions, and reconfiguration of parts, so this /Finding/ realm is open-ended and forever partial.

Among other domains that would benefit from the construction of a Finding Aid: all the Phyto books; the Instruments; Anglophilia (including British Isles musics); History of Technology; Blues; Language; Geography; Anthropology; Sarawak; Nova Scotia; Photography; ...and those are just the most obvious realms that await my attention. Some of them are primarily matters of co-locations on library shelves, but others sport multiple media that want corralling and interlinkage. Each has multiple backstory narratives that might illuminate my intentions and fascinations.

This page will offer a way in to Finding Aids as I muddle through their construction, beginning with

Greek and Turkish musics

Broot wisely asked just who the audience might be for this effort. And I have to admit that it's mostly for myself, especially since there's no clear and legal means to distribute access to copyrighted material (music, texts, images) that I've accumulated. And the truth is, nobody shares my fascination with the subject matter, so it's basically a matter of my own satisfaction.

We refer to the written work of the past to see what has been done and how it has been done... we focus on the maker's methods and assumptions. We find tools and ways to use them... our work will, inevitably, echo and respond to the work of the past that resonates most strongly for us.

We all have our touchstones.

Peter Turchi, Maps of the Imagination, pages 220, 221