MPCOLMilman Parry Collection of Oral Literature (Harvard University; Cambridge, MA)
Copyright 1988-2018, All rights reserved.
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And yet, it remains unclear how this instrument fits in the MPCOL. It, along with a dozen-plus other instruments (mostly gusle), ring the room, hanging or lying prone atop bookshelves.
Dim lighting and a phalanx of shelving conspire to make entering the MPCOL a kind of anti-epiphany.
Passage into the MPCOL entails movement through a variety of contrasting spaces: into the main library, through a gaudy (and echo-filled gallery) up to a secluded third floor, and then finally into the archive.
Slavicist Aida Vidan, a long-time researcher in the MPCOL, echoed Kunic's thoughts about the temporality of smell of the archive: "I perceive it as a scent of continuity which brings an additional layer of density to the scholarly experience, as an olfactory bridge which spans times and places but also marks a safe scholarly harbor.
One of the other dense sites of smell in the MPCOL is a small wooden card catalog holding thousands of index cards in nine drawers.
Historically speaking, it served as the MPCOL catalog until a 1995 index was published, followed by a digital catalog of select materials a few years later.
Some archives like the MPCOL require skilled listening, but often that listening has already been done, as is the case with the thousands of audio-to-text transcriptions produced decades ago by Nikola Vujnovic, the archival-human who played such a critical role in the MPCOL.