As American society reckons with racial injustice, many archivists wonder how they can combat systemic racism in the workplace and the profession. Archives in Context reached out for guidance from Petrina Jackson, director of the Special Collections Research Center, Bird Library, Syracuse University; and Verónica Reyes-Escudero, Katheryne B. Willock head of special collections, University of Arizona Libraries. As chair and incoming chair of the Rare Books and Manuscript Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), a division of the American Library Association, Jackson and Reyes-Escudero called upon their colleagues “to take action to recognize and destroy structural/systemic racism and inequality in our workplaces and in our profession.” Learn more about how you can help create a more diverse and inclusive profession in this episode.
In this episode of a special Archives in Context season on how the events of 2020 have affected archivists, we meet two of the driving forces behind the Archival Workers Emergency Fund (AWEF): Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, reference librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society, and Lydia Tang, special collections archivist-librarian at Michigan State University. Anna and Lydia tell us about the origin of AWEF, its impact during the COVID-19 crisis, and how archivists can donate to or receive help from the fund.
What do sex, awards, and the occult have in common? They are all themes that the Los Angeles Archivists Collective explored in its online publication Acid Free. In this episode, Courtney Dean, head of the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT) in UCLA Library Special Collections, and Grace Danico, an independent archivist and freelance designer, talk about labor issues, relationships between archives and design, and much more.
Finding ways to connect diverse audiences with archives is an art. It is also an important aspect of leadership. Jennifer Johnson, director of Corporate Archives at Cargill, Incorporated, discusses her essay “Cultivating Success: The Business of Archives” in volume one of SAA’s Archival Fundamentals Series III, Leading and Managing Archives and Manuscripts Programs. Jennifer describes working in a corporate setting and the importance of outreach, building relationships, and storytelling.
Jennifer is a contributor to Leading and Managing Archives and Manuscripts, edited by Peter Gottlieb and David W. Carmicheal (Society of American Archivists, 2019), which provides examples of successful leadership practices from the archives field and offers insight regarding key functions of leaders and managers: communication, strategies, resources and budgets, leadership in transformative change and crisis, building relationships within and beyond the archives, and leadership development.
“The stories in between” are what drive Liza Posas, head of Research Services and Archives at the Autry Museum of the American West, and her work on the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials. The Protocols were created by the First Archivist Circle in 2006 and endorsed by SAA in 2018. Liza discusses the workbook she is developing for the Protocols and the ways that archivists can put the Protocols into practice to care for culturally sensitive materials and better understand repatriation. (Please note that the date of the 2020 Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums conference, which Liza references, has changed.)
Read the Protocols of Native American Archival Materials and listen to Liza’s interview on “Sound and Meaning: Preserving Native American Voice and Song” via Material Memory, a podcast from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).
Dr. Trevor Owens, head of digital content management at the Library of Congress, thinks about the intersection of history and digital media—a lot. He discusses his award-winning book, The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation, providing encouragement to under-resourced archivists who need to add digital preservation to their very full professional plates. Trevor also muses on the digital equivalent of lamination and why he considers digital preservation more craft than science.
The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation (John Hopkins University Press) won the 2019 Waldo Gifford Leland Award from the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Outstanding Publication Award of the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services. Trevor also authored the chapter “Archives as a Service: From Archivist as Producer and Provider to Archivist as Facilitator and Enabler,” in Archival Values: Essays in Honor of Mark A. Greene, edited by Christine Weideman and Mary Caldera (SAA, 2019).
What does “Archiving While Black” feel like? Dr. Ashley Farmer, assistant professor in the Departments of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, follows up with us on her Chronicle of Higher Education article and her talk at the 2019 SAA Annual Meeting. She also discusses the role of scholars of color in stewarding historical records and shares her thoughts on interprofessional engagement between historians and archivists.
Dr. Lydia Tang is working to make archives more accessible and break down access barriers for people with disabilities. Lydia, who is the special collections archivist at Michigan State University, talks about her work on the SAA Task Force to Revise Best Practices on Accessibility and the SAA-ACRL/RBMS Task Force to Revise the Joint Statement on Access to Research Materials in Archives and Special Collections Libraries. Lydia underscores the importance of putting people first in all archival accessibility decisions and how this informed her work to revise the Guidelines for Accessible Archives for People with Disabilities. Lydia is the recipient of the 2020 Mark A. Greene Emerging Leader Award.
Lydia offers further advice for creating accessible archives spaces in her article “Engaging Users with Disabilities for Accessible Spaces,” and for hiring archivists with disabilities in her co-authored article “Toward Inclusion: Best Practices for Hiring People with Disabilities.” Both articles appear in the July/August 2019 and 2020 issues of Archival Outlook, respectively.
How do you document a student movement? Student activists organize and mobilize within ephemeral spaces that need to be documented ethically and with care. Lae’l Hughes-Watkins, university archivist at the University of Maryland, and Tamar Chute, university archivist and head of Archives at the Ohio State University, discuss the impetus behind Project STAND (Student Activism Now Documented) to create an online space for primary sources on student activism and marginalized communities. Originally created as a consortium of Ohio-based colleges and universities, Lae’l and Tamar talk about how Project STAND has taken off and now includes more than 70-member institutions. (Please note that the Archiving Student Activism Toolkit mentioned here has been released since this episode was recorded).
Browse the Project STAND portal to find collections from participating institutions, upcoming symposiums, and resources for participating. The Archiving Student Activism Toolkit, created by Annalise Berdini, Rich Bernier, Valencia Johnson, Maggie McNeely, and Lydia Tang on behalf of Project STAND, compiles information on documenting, collecting, and providing access to student activism collections in archives.
Listen to compelling stories about archives from A Finding Aid to My Soul, a storytelling event at ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2019, sponsored by SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness (COPA). The event was hosted by Micaela Blei, two-time Moth Grand Slam Story Champion and former director of the Moth’s Education Program, who coached the ten storytellers in advance of the event, and also told a story of her own.
Part 3 features stories from Joanna Black, archivist at the William E. Colby Memorial Library, Sierra Club; Joyce LeeAnn Joseph, founder of Archival Alchemy; Tanya Zanish-Belcher, director of special collections and archives at Wake Forest University; and Travis Williams, archivist and special collections librarian at St. Edward’s University.