By Barry Stapleton and Jeff Ksiazek
Published March 15, 2017
Welcome to the new online home of the Ward Irish Music Archives! This site has been a long time in the making, and really is the culmination of a lot of hard work from our volunteers and staff, as well as our partners at Northwoods Web Solutions and the design work of the wonderful Michele Patin.
Back in 2010 we began releasing our digital collections, beginning with the Dunn Family Collection website. Subsequently we released the Irish Sheet Music Archives in 2013 and the Milwaukee Irish Fest Scrapbook in 2015. These sites are excellent ways for WIMA to provide access to specific collections, themes, and material. It was also very important that we were able to build context and content around these collections to tell the full story behind the music and images we’re collecting rather than just provide a catalog or search engine.
However, we quickly realized we were running out of virtual real estate on our site within parent organization’s website, irishfest.com. WIMA has a lot of content already created from our traveling exhibits, and we’ve been digitizing and writing about some Archives’ material for our monthly newsletter and our Analog Beat forum on the CelticMKE blog. This website became our goal and solution to help provide better access to our material.
So what will you find on wardirishmusicarchives.com? We’ll have general information about the Archives, an overview about our collections, and details about our traveling exhibits. If you’re interested in donating to the archives, volunteering, or looking for a permanent home for your Irish music collection, you can find information to get involved. And this blog will allow us to write about and grow more content around material from our collections.
You can also search our collections catalog online for the first time! Our cataloging efforts will always be on-going, so expect to see changes to how you can search and browse as we get input from people using the catalog. Our goal is to make it easy for you to find what WIMA has in its holdings, and we’ll gladly take feedback on how to improve the process for you.
As we continue to digitize material, keep in mind that we are still restricted by current copyright law. Trust us, when it comes to sound recordings, copyright is a barrier for us releasing more material online (spoilers, there aren’t many sound recordings in the public domain)! But, we’ll continue to provide highlights of and historical information about our material when we can. And anyone can plan a visit to do intensive research when needed.
If you’re not already signed up, join our email list for updates when we add new blog posts, audio and video material, and catalog updates. We hope you enjoy the new website!
Barry Stapleton, Director
Jeff Ksiazek, Archivist