Archive Committee: Goals and initial steps

Having been persuaded that we will not live forever, the AD Archives Committee (June Fritchman, Avery Solomon, Michael Wakoff and Harriet Eisman, with consultation from Bo Carlson) has been meeting to discover to the best way to preserve, organize and make accessible Anthony’s teachings and writings that are not available in the published books. The books are wonderful and still, there is so much of value in the unpublished material. While the ideas worked through in classes are sometimes messy, merely roughed out, or even superseded by later work, the vitality of Anthony’s dialectical method, the conviction in his voice, and the direct power of the private thinking he did by way of his hand-drawn diagrams, are full of inspiration and clearly merit our care and further study. Several current classes at the Center have been making regular use of archived classes to illuminate their current investigations.

What we all want is a direct pointer to the pages that contain best parts of classes, the minutes that have the clearest audio, the most fruitful and inspiring discussions. This is a goal at once in the future and in the moment: for anyone who is currently listening to audio, or reading a transcript, and comes across something wonderful, please just take a moment and note the topic, the date, the pages, the place in the audio file.

 

The Archive Committee set three major goals: 1) to obtain professional data and archival consultation, 2) to develop a position of Project Manager, and 3) propose a plan for dedicated appropriate workspace. An obvious fourth goal is to raise funds to support the serious endeavor proposed.

 

In regards to the first goal, the committee has recently met twice with 4 members of Cornell Digital Consulting and Production Services department (DCAPS) for consultation on the most effective way to develop an updated electronic record of all classes, transcripts and audio files, as well as other related writings and recordings from honored visitors to WG. The PowerPoint that was part of our presentation to DCAPS is here: .ppt etc. The DCAPS team was very complimentary of both the scope and quality of work that has been done over the years to maintain and organize the collection. June is collaborating with Hannah Marshall, a metadata librarian, on the next phase. We have a limited amount of funds dedicated to this work; fortunately consultation with Cornell is very reasonably priced.

 

In regards to the need for space, there have been many suggestions, such as adding a new work/archival storage room to the Main Building, or a full renovation of the Annex basement, which has been suffering from dampness, etc for a good while, or blocking off a small space upstairs in the Annex. This discussion is alive and current.

 

The archive belongs to the community, and is the community’s legacy. You are all invited to participate in any of this. If you have comments, ideas, skills to contribute, please contact any member of the committee:

Harriet This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Avery This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Michael This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., June This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

March 2016 Update:

 

Click here for an excellent outline of the current state of the Archive project as presented to Cornell DCAPS in March of 2016.

 

July 25, 2016 Update:

 

After two very helpful meetings with members of the Digital Conservation and Production Services team at Cornell, it became clear that the first essential project is to create an electronic version of the remarkable paper database (the Blue Volumes) now in the library. The Blue database contains a page for every day, from 1973 to 1984. Thanks to much dedicated and painstaking work, this is the most detailed and accurate source we have for class topic, availability and quality of audio, availability of transcripts, level of participation by Anthony, and availability of detailed class notes to supplement the audio files and transcripts. However, it already a bit out of date as classes continue to be transcribed, and access to it is limited to physical presence in the library. To facilitate study of Anthony’s teachings, it will be important to have a resource that is more widely accessible, that is searchable by topic, and more easily updated. Due to a generous donor, we have been very fortunate to engage Raina Elkins (Jim and Carolyn’s daughter) to enter the material into a digital process suggested by Cornell and adapted and monitored by June Fritchman. Raina is working her way through the early years and hopes to complete this piece of the project by fall.

 

November 1, 2016 Update:

 

A project just beginning is the scanning of transcripts and notes of classes for which we have no audio file, so that all paper information will be available in electronic form. At the request of the AD Archive Committee, the Board has designated the Annex upstairs as a dedicated space for AD Archive work, and has also approved seed money of $3,000 for project management and equipment purposes as this gets underway. Several volunteers have stepped forward, and of course, this is a community project and your insights and assistance are needed to help it succeed. Thanks to an earlier donation, the first phase of creating an electronic version of the day-by-day catalog of classes has been completed.

 

The committee will seek expert advice from Cornell about the best way to merge all of the data that has been recorded in such a way as to make a topical search by students practicable. To get a good overview of all the materials, of the work that has been done and still remains to be done, take a look at the presentation prepared for the committee’s meeting with Cornell consultants last spring:   (outline of the current state of the Archive project as presented to Cornell DCAPS in March of 2016.)

 

January 6, 2017 update:

The project has 3 main goals: preservation, description and access. For both preservation and access, electronic files of transcripts and audio are desireable.

Since she has been here, Maria has scanned 300 transcripts and interview notes from the ring binders (I have a photo of these). Many of these are classes for which we have no audio. Maria and Raina Elkins meet weekly to update the spreadsheet with the new scans.

 

Marie Holmes is organizing the class audiotapes to make sure we have an accurate record of them. Our Cornell consultants have recommended keeping them for now. There may be some that can be used to create more accurate transcripts or that will make higher quality digital audio files. (I have a photo of tapes).

 

March 26, 2017 update:

 

 Avery reports there are 300 class transcripts completed, of which almost 200 are from 1982 and later. There are still about 550 classes for which we have digital audio but have not been transcribed. There are now 475 scanned items, including 125 reports of interviews with PB.

There is now a 4-drawer file cabinet in Annex with all our hard copy materials in chronological order. They have standardized the topic keywords for the AD events master list (Excel file). A huge amount of gratitude goes to Ilya who has done the bulk of the transcribing over the last 10 years.

One large project, still in future is to make use of class notes we have on file to identify the diagrams being pointed to during classes and link them to transcripts. If we want more material transcribed, we will need more volunteers to transcribe the classes in order to get them done in a timely manner.  Another option would be to raise or get grant money to pay professional transcribers.

June reports that another issue to be discussed and decided upon at some point (not too far distant) is whether our archiving activity should expand beyond AD material to include the life of the Center before and after AD death: visits by lamas, His Holiness, Summer studies and various papers written by students, etc. Generally, we don’t want to leave a mess for those who come after us to clean up, but perhaps also the archive will be more valuable to potential researchers if more of this historical information about Wisdom's Goldenrod history is preserved.