Princeton University Library’s (PUL) digital repository houses over 130,000 digitized items from the Library’s unique and rare collections. Curated Collections, a new program at PUL led by Reference Professional for Special Collections Emma Sarconi, provides the Princeton community opportunities to curate these digital items into online exhibits, add detail and narrative, and contextualize them within a larger theme.
“An advertisement for the subway can tell the story of the history of the subway, or the history of public transit in general; it can tell the story of expansion of public space or prejudice in city planning; it can tell of human successes and human failures. Not every person is going to see the same story in every object,” says Sarconi. “We wanted to give the Princeton community an opportunity to tell the stories they see in our collections, celebrate those narratives and their creators on our website, and in turn, enrich the conversations around Special Collections as a whole.”
Curating a collection is an opportunity to bring new life to collections with no narrative. It requires only a genuine interest and curiosity in helping shape the narratives surrounding Princeton’s collection.
Sarconi encourages Princeton students, faculty, or staff to curate digital collections for a research project, for a class, or just for fun. “I see this as a way for faculty and students to begin conversations on larger topics using our collections. In particular, I hope that the openness of this program encourages diverse and critical uses of our material in ways that have not been possible before,” she commented.
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