Kinsey and the Wasps: Mapping a Journey
Part Five, in Which We Develop the Project Idea
As the Map and Spatial Data Librarian and the Maps Assistant, respectively, Theresa Quill and I are the people at Wells that tend to have the most contact with the physical and digital map collections. It will come as no surprise that the two of us are big fans of these collections, and we are often looking for ways to feature the many hidden gems housed within so that more people can use and enjoy them. Having gotten approval to do an internship in the Government Information, Maps & Microform Services (GIMMS) department where we both work, the next step was to develop a project that would highlight some aspect of the maps collection and could reasonably be accomplished within the course of one semester.
Full institutional memory of how and when the Kinsey maps landed at Wells Library may exist but is no longer readily available. My understanding is that at some point, someone at the Kinsey Institute sent the maps over to be housed at Wells since they were not part of the institute’s main focus, that is, Kinsey’s sex research. Theresa and I had both handled the odd reference request for the gall wasp maps here and there, usually from a fellow Wells inhabitant who was aware of their existence. But mostly they sat on a shelf, many still uncataloged, in the back room near the Rare Maps. As I mentioned in the previous post, there were also assorted maps that had been signed but not created by Kinsey, some known to us and others as yet undiscovered, scattered throughout the main maps collection. Every once in a while we would pull a map for some other reason, only to find Kinsey’s unmistakable signature somewhere on it—on the back, in the margin, in light pencil or dark ink. Occasionally we would laugh about how we could discard a duplicate of a commonly held topographical map if only Kinsey hadn’t gone and signed the darn thing.
I think it was Theresa who first suggested the Kinsey collection as a good candidate for digitization, during a meeting in which we were establishing map collection priorities. When the time came for my internship, it was still in our minds as a project, and we both agreed that it fit the bill. Once established, there were a few decisions to make in terms of project scope:
1) Would all maps be digitized, including those created by hand, the base maps annotated by Kinsey, and those merely signed by him?
2) If so, how would the work be prioritized?
3) Should we attempt to get all items cataloged first, or digitize them all and then send those that needed it to cataloging?
4) What metadata fields would we need for the digital collection we would create, and what steps, contacts, meetings, and permissions were needed to set up the digital collection and allow me to develop it (including copyright considerations)?
5) Once completed, how could we best publicize and support the launch of the new digital collection so that those who might be interested in engaging with it would be likely to hear about it?
6) In what ways could we extend the work to get further benefits from it, for example could we do some type of collaborative effort with the Kinsey Institute, or perhaps a Wells Library exhibit, or use the digital collection as part of educational outreach?
What we decided, in short: The entire collection of Kinsey maps of all types (handmade, annotated, signed) will eventually be digitized, but I will focus first on the handmade and annotated items. Due to a gap in the presence of a full-time map cataloger, we decided to digitize first and hand the uncataloged maps over to cataloging later. This will limit some of the metadata we can enter right away (those items that a cataloger would best supply) but it eliminates the potential need to adjust the project timeline for cataloging. We set up meetings with Jennifer Liss (Head, Monographic Image Cataloging) and Kara Alexander (Digital Media Specialist), along with a consultation with Copyright Librarian Naz Pantaloni, to cover metadata, setup of the digital collection, and rights concerns respectively. These will be detailed in future blog posts.
In terms of the launch, publicity, and associated events, we decided that we would allow the research and process to guide some of that, and that those activities will likely comprise a post-internship second phase. Toward the end of the internship, we would evaluate options. In the meantime, I reached out to staff at the Kinsey Institute to schedule a tour.
That about covers the big picture of project development. The next few blog posts will be brief explanations of smaller moving parts of the project as they unfold. Stay tuned!
Heather Sloan is an ILS Master’s student with a specialization in Digital Humanities. She is a full-time staff member in the Media Services and Government Information, Maps & Microform Services (GIMMS) departments of Herman B Wells Library. She has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Percussion Performance from SUNY Stony Brook, and her interests include Caribbean folkloric music, Latin music, record collecting, and design in popular culture. Her Digital Humanities work focuses on intersections between digital and humanitarian mapping, the environment, and arts advocacy. She is a 2019-2020 HASTAC Scholar.