You, too, can run a topotheque!
The topotheque started out as merely private tool kit. I intended to practically manage my private footage by indexing, dating and localization. The IT department of my enterprise in Wiener Neustadt (AT) put my idea into practice and it eventually became evident that a topotheque would also come in handy for others – users that want to safeguard and render historic material and knowledge detectable. I am personally highly delighted about the vast reactions and feedback which show, that the desire for memory, exchange and therewith building of identities can be gratified with the principle of the topotheques.
How do you start a topotheque?
Initial starting phase:
After the technical implementation of the topotheque and a quick introduction (printed or online handbook) the topotheque managers can already start with implementing material. It is easiest to start with entries which can be taken from already existing archives. For a smaller town already 50 entries may suffice to give a first impression of their future topotheque. During the first phase of implementing of material, the topotheque will remain hidden from visitors. The moment of making the topotheque visible and accessible to the public is up to the respective topothequer – we will “activate” the topotheque whenever requested.
It is easy to mobilise new material: word of mouth, requests from local newspapers and/or club magazines will surely awake interest of new providers. Experience shows that also regional media likes to adopt reports from the topotheque. This may be the case within, for instance, the framework of a small press conference of opening event. A topotheque is supposed to be a continuously growing archive documenting the events and changes of a town and/or community.
Who runs a topotheque?
The principles of the topotheque are: The access to historically relevant material should be freely accessible for interested people and the public. The handling of the provided material and their respective data must be trustworthy. This is why a topotheque should only be managed by an institution that doesn´t have any commercial exploitation of the historic material in mind and which is why mainly public institutions like communities, associations or education facilities manage a topotheque. It is these institutions that the population can place their trust in and therewith encourage private persons to allow public insight into private material.
Who works in a topotheque?
The work with and on a topotheque requires specific interest and – often times – volunteers. Historic academic education is not required. Therefore, many people interested in local history can contribute to the implementation of material. The results may always be amended and comments as well as tags elaborated – also through the collaboration with the population.