For years, Aimee Lind, a librarian at the Getty Research Institute, has been struggling with ways to make architecture archives more accessible to users. To help solve this problem, she co-founded the California Architecture Archives Network (or CalArchNet) with her Cal Poly SLO colleague Jessica Holada. Together they have organized a series of one-day mini-conferences designed to foster dialogue and collaboration among librarians, archivists, and curators at California institutions that house architecture archives.
The goal of these semiannual meetings is to create a space for convergence among professionals who intersect with architectural archives in different ways. Architecture archives, often containing large drawings and scale models, present unique problems due to their size and fragility. CalArchNet participants are interested in improving the overall user experience for visitors to the archives by looking for solutions to obstacles to access. This space for an informal exchange of ideas provides an opportunity to be transparent about the challenges repositories face when managing and processing architecture holdings, as well as encourages investigation and experimentation into ways new technologies may help to solve accessibility issues, such as improved interaction with digitized collections via the IIIF protocol or 3D-scanned facsimile models and virtual walk-throughs.
October 27 marked the third meeting of CalArchNet, held at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Architecture and Design Center, with representatives from 13 institutions in attendance. Topics discussed included historic site preservation research methodology, leveraging statewide resources to enhance discovery of collections, security considerations, GIS mapping technologies, and the use of linked open data to make connections between collections. The day concluded with a curator-led tour of the exhibition Albert Frey and Lina Bo Bardi: A Search for Living Architecture.
If you’re an archivist, librarian, or curator working with architecture archives in California and would like to become involved with CalArchNet, you can join the Google group or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The Spring 2018 meeting will be held in San Luis Obispo.