I am excited to share the Music Division’s latest web archive collection, the Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive! This collection contains websites and select social media to document professional networks in the performing arts over time. The collection items are those of professional, labor, and advocacy organizations at regional, national, and international levels. Its initial batch of 85 archived websites is ready for you to explore in our digital collections. By the summer, expect at least 100! My seed list for the collection is quite large – over 500 unique URLs.
Our recently launched Performing Arts Web Archive and the LC Commissioned Composers Web Archive both have quite specific scopes. By contrast, I planned for the Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive to be the Music Division’s largest web archive to date and potentially for the foreseeable future. In a way, I think it’ll serve as another “heavy lifter” type of web archive collection akin to the Public Policy Topics Web Archive administered by the Researcher and Reference Services Division. Meaning, that the breadth of subjects and applied fields represented in the collection will become its hallmark value for researchers.
Why would this collection be big from the get-go? Think about how broad the performing arts are as a field and the many subfields within them: music, dance, musical and straight theater, composition, songwriting, theory, publishing, and education. Now, consider how all of those areas intersect with some of these topics, among others:
- labor organizing, like the Actors’ Equity Association
- historians, like the Society for American Music
- memory workers, like SIBMAS – International Association of Libraries, Museums, Archives and Documentation Centres of the Performing Arts
- medicine, like the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS)
- technology and manufacturing, like the MIDI Association and MIDI Manufacturers Association
- religious studies, like the United Church of Christ Musicians Association
Second, the Music Division collects and documents these many areas on an international scale, so limiting URLs to US-only wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of our work – not to mention that the performing arts don’t exist in vacuums dictated by geographic borders. So, the networks are international in scope down to the national and regional ones that contribute to those larger missions.
Isn’t it convenient, then, that the Internet is also called “the Web,” the perfect visual for points of networked intersections? That also speaks to the archival appraisal principle I’ve used as the basis of creating this collection in the first place: interrelatedness. Interrelatedness is one of the foundational characteristics of archives – they connect to each other through common creators, places of creation, formats, patterns of use, descriptive terminology, and other ways. Interrelatedness can exist within a single collection, across collections at the same repository, and across collections of separate repositories. This applies to analog and born-digital archives!
Here’s an example from the Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive to illustrate interrelatedness through hierarchies:
- The Music Library Association Texas Chapter is a regional chapter of the Music Library Association, and the Music Library Association is the U.S. branch of the International Association for Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML).
An example of interrelatedness through shared subjects, a lateral relationship rather than a hierarchical one, is:
- The National Flute Association, Inc., World Flute Society, and La Traversière – The French Flute Association are all professional organizations for flutists.
Another archival value at play with the Professional Organizations for Performing Arts Web Archive is evidentiary value. Archives can serve as proof that an action, policy, or creative act occurred or that a person, group, or organization existed. Many of the organizations’ websites in this collection only exist on the web because they are virtual communities, and nearly all of the organizations with official records in this web archive collection have repositories that are not the Library of Congress. Therefore, the Library of Congress might receive published works by the organization if they’re submitted for copyright registration, but not the information that details how they planned their conferences, a list of past awardees, or embedded videos of free webinars. So, this web archive also serves as a snapshot of proof of their existence and activities. This is even more vital for documenting organizations that do not keep official records because of the spirit in which they were established.
Enjoy exploring this collection, and I hope you keep revisiting it as it grows exponentially over time! I especially hope that you see how the performing arts are part of the larger fabric of society, from education to labor organizing and more. If you need help using any of the Music Division’s web archive collections, reach out through Ask a Librarian!