New Digital Theatre Arts Costume Collection

Millie, Act II, Scenes iv-viii
by Darrin J. Pufall
doi: 10.18122/B2VC7T
Kimberly Holling, Library Assistant III for the Data Management and Scholarly Communications unit recently helped launch a new Theatre Arts Costume Collection in ScholarWorks. The collection was organized and implemented by Ms. Holling for her 2016 Master of Library and Information Science Capstone Project with the University of Washington. As a growing number of institutions are creating digital collections of historical clothing, the same cannot be said for theatrical costumes.

This form of non-traditional academic scholarship continues to go unmarked in the world of repositories with the exception of small collections of production stills. While theatre is a collaborative effort, there are technical elements (ex. scenery or costumes) that need to be documented with context in order to support the study and ongoing recognition of their corresponding designers. Constructed garments are often altered and reused for subsequent performances making these pieces ephemeral in nature.

This collection increases awareness not only of the designer’s work, but also to Boise State University’s contributions to the theatre arts. Initially intended as a form of archival collection, it quickly presented itself as a digital publishing opportunity for the library. The collection currently houses 63 digitally published records containing the costume designs of Darrin J. Pufall for the 2013 Boise State production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. These records are a combination of Mr. Pufall’s personal costume renderings and Ms. Holling’s photographs of selected garments from the show.

Finished garment of
displayed rendering
doi: 10.18122/B2S88J
To add further value to these records a statement from the designer himself provides additional context to understand why certain features were chosen and the overall premise the designer was going for. Ms. Holling herself has a background in both apparel design and theatre (performance and costume design) and provided her expertise to help breakdown the primary construction techniques and features of the photographed garments, along with measurements and the fabric content whenever possible.

The additional insight of Keri Fitch, the manager of the Theatre Arts Costume Shop, provided further background for alterations in the final design of certain garments from the original rendering, which is information that is generally left unknown to those outside of the technical production of a show.

The collection demonstrates the on-going efforts of the Data Management and Scholarly Communications unit to support Boise State's arts and humanities scholarship while expanding its original, open access publishing services.

Building upon traditional library cataloging description practices, Ms. Holling utilized a standards-based metadata schema to represent the theatrical costume designs and increase discovery of the work. Additionally, unlike other online costume collections which are no longer accessible, the library's stewardship and support of this work ensures permanent, world-wide access to Boise State scholarship.

Come visit the new Theatre Arts Costume Collection online at: http://scholarworks.boisestate.edu/millie_2013_costumes

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