Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
November 13, 2001
Scrapbook will open online door to author's personal life
Canadians will soon be able to get a "virtual" glimpse of writer L.M. Montgomery's life through a digital scrapbook being created from collections housed at the University of Guelph and four other archives and museums.
"Picturing a Canadian Life: L.M. Montgomery's Personal Scrapbooks and Book Covers" will be an online exhibition of materials that have never before been brought together, said Lorne Bruce, head of archival and special collections at Guelph's McLaughlin Library. Montgomery, who wrote 20 novels, a book of poetry and numerous newspaper articles and short stories during her lifetime, was also an avid photographer, letter writer and gardener. The scrapbooks will include items from the author's personal collections, book covers, journals and photographs, many of which are housed at Guelph. "This project will bring to life little-known aspects of Montgomery's work," said Bruce. "Viewers will have the opportunity to see Canada at the turn of the century through her eyes: what interested her, the swatches of fabric she loved, the photographs she prized, the news items she preserved."
Currently, Montgomery's scrapbooks are available to the public only for limited viewing because the pages are brittle and the fragile pressed flowers, clippings and photographs can't be handled safely. But the virtual scrapbook, which will be bilingual, will include digitized images of these materials. It will be annotated and layered so that viewers can either scroll through the pages rapidly or stop to study them intensely. There will also be video and audio clips, animation and other interactive elements. Chief librarian Michael Ridley added that the scrapbooks, like Montgomery's novels, poetry and journals, have an intricate, complex story to tell. "These are the scrapbooks of an artist. They are intentional creations with a perspective and a personality. They are personal and yet conscious of the reader. This project will allow us to preserve the integrity of what Montgomery created, but extend them by making the scrapbooks active electronic documents."
The virtual scrapbook will be launched next fall. The target audience is students in grade school through graduate school, teachers, Montgomery scholars and readers, cultural tourists and just about anyone else interested in knowing more about the author, Bruce said. "The Internet is the only way we could have brought together so many different images, text and optional enhancements for so many different audiences and free of charge," he said.
The project is headed by the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum in partnership with the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island, the National Library of Canada, and the Virtual Museum of Canada of the Canadian Heritage Information Network.
Lorne Bruce, archival and special collections,
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