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MMD > Archives > November 2008 > 2008.11.07 > 03Prev  Next

Our Published Heritage
By Terry Smythe

In the 40+ years I have been involved in this delightful avocation,
I've seen extensive, well deserved attention focused on our instruments
and music media.  However, much less attention has been focused on our
published history.

Like many collectors, over the years I acquired a modest collection
of about 150+ pieces of original literature.  About four years ago,
I wondered why I should be the only one to view and enjoy this window
into a unique slice of our musical heritage.

I have my own web site and began to archive my original literature into
electronic PDF format, suitable for web display, with much more to come
in the months ahead.  It has actually been supplemented a little by
similarly committed collectors who have loaned me a few pieces.  To see
proof of concept and view what I have done so far, see 

The magic and power of the Internet now makes it possible to replicate
and make freely available a vast amount of original literature that
would otherwise remain hidden away, risking eventual destruction by our
heirs, simply not recognizing the value of all this paper.

In our enthusiastic quest for new discoveries of instruments and music,
many of us incidentally acquire original literature.  It is these
collections of original literature that need to be shared, such that we
can all acquire a far better appreciation of this wonderful heritage we

From time to time, I have encountered such collections, and have spent
many happy hours browsing through them, never really knowing what
priceless gems will emerge.

The ability to browse through this material is, in my humble opinion,
absolutely critical.  The information and pictures that leap off the
pages quite unexpectedly often form the basis for articles, books, and
research, otherwise unattainable.

No doubt there are many among us who have such original literature,
but are reluctant to loan them, for fear of loss in the postal system.
For those inclined to share, but not prepared to loan, I can assist
with guidance on how best to scan these documents, to both acquire good
quality PDF files, but also inflict little or no damage on rare items.

While I have made a beginning in this initiative, I can't do it alone.
Those likewise inclined are invited to join in with this discussion
about open access to original literature, by taking advantage of the
magic and power of the internet.  Perhaps such a discussion will lead
to available collections, private or otherwise, that perhaps we can
freely access.

We absolutely need the many hundreds of eyes within MMD to identify,
locate, and determine access to the many collections of original
literature out there of interest to all of us.

Where are the collections of personal papers of such roll recording
luminaries as J. Lawrence Cook, Percy Grainger, Josef Hofmann, Eubie
Blake, etc.?   Similarly, where are the company papers, documents,
ledgers, etc.?  They are all highly desirable for eventual open access.

Thoughts of others?

Terry Smythe
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 

(Message sent Fri 7 Nov 2008, 18:22:46 GMT, from time zone GMT-0600.)

Key Words in Subject:  Heritage, Our, Published

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