U of M Libraries receives grant to preserve Guthrie Theater archives

May 19, 2015

The University of Minnesota Libraries’ Performing Arts Archives has been awarded $100,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to arrange, preserve, and describe the records of the Guthrie Theater (guthrietheater.org). The Libraries also will work with the Guthrie to create a sustainable plan for the future to preserve its 21st century materials, including digital records.

As part of this yearlong project, the Libraries also will identify materials that may be digitized and included in the Digital Public Library of America and other national digital libraries and online sources.

The Guthrie Theater collection at the University of Minnesota contains documentation from every play produced at the Guthrie and the theater’s organizational history. Included are annotated scripts, performance reports, programs, reviews, photographs, costume bible scrapbooks, audio and video recordings, and more.

Though much of the Guthrie Theater history is already accessible at the Elmer L. Andersen Library, more recent materials have remained largely uncataloged. This project will allow the collection in its entirety to be accessed through online inventories and in the Libraries’ reading room.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to bring one of the Performing Arts Archives’ premier collections into the 21st century with a flourish,” said Cecily Marcus, curator for the Performing Arts Archives. “We will have new boxes, improved online access, access to the complete collection, and plans in place to preserve a new era in the Guthrie’s history.”

The Libraries, with this grant, proposes to:

  • Arrange and describe nearly 800 cubic feet of records following current archival standards and best practices.
  • Create an online archival finding aid.
  • Photocopy at-risk materials.
  • Identify priority content for digitization.
  • Create a 21st century records management plan in collaboration with Guthrie staff and leadership that addresses born-digital preservation and access.

The project will end in July 2016, with public access available to the full collection.

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