By Gail Kern Paster
As part of its educational mission, the Folger is turning increasingly to digital formats in order to enhance the experience of our visitors and to make our collections, educational resources and programs accessible to the many who cannot experience the library and its treasures directly.
Library visitors can now use their cell phones to hear guided audio tours by the exhibition curators. I recently completed a director’s tour of the library’s public spaces, inside and outside, and a docent tour of the Elizabethan Garden is in the works. I was amazed to learn that many visitors are touring the library after hours—combining audio and virtual tours available for download to your desktop at www.folger.edu/audiotours.
But save room on your iPod for our other audio offerings. When the Folger Consort created a wonderful musical version of the medieval Second Shepherds’ Play in December, we produced three podcasts to introduce audience members to aspects of this neglected masterpiece: to the latest scholarship about medieval drama, to the director Mary Hall Surface’s experience directing the play and to the Consort’s decisions about how to interweave text and musical accompaniment. Folger Theatre’s hugely successful spring production of Macbeth, co-directed by Teller ’69 and Aaron Posner, inspired us to produce two audio podcasts. One presented key things to know about Shakespeare’s play; the other described the unique features of this production. We also made a video podcast to help teachers create Shakespeare remixes in the classroom. Listen at www.folger.edu/podcasts or visit the Folger section of iTunes, where you can also hear our public radio documentary, Shakespeare in American Life.
I invite Amherst alumni to view the Folger digitally on YouTube. Six Folger videos can now be found on the nonprofit channel of YouTube, including a lively informational video about the history and scope of Folger programs and Love’s Labor, the prize-winning anniversary film we made in 2007. Love’s Labor describes Henry and Emily Folger’s founding of the library and includes charming images of Amherst in the 1870s, when Mr. Folger was a student at the college.
The Folger is always proud to be a part of Amherst, and we hope that these digital initiatives will allow the Amherst community to know the library better, no matter how far from our Capitol Hill home you may be.
Paster is director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The Folger opened with a gift from Henry Clay Folger, Class of 1879, and his wife, Emily, and is administered under the auspices of Amherst College.