GHOUL: Guidelines for Haunted and Otherwise Unsettled Libraries (and archives): Protecting Your Collections from Supernatural Infestation

Written by Jamie Marie Wagner, 2nd year

1

Columbia Pictures, 1984

October is Archives Month, and while it’s the perfect time to reevaluate your repository’s preservation protocols, the Halloween season also tends to coincide with a rise in supernatural activity in our cultural heritage institutions. You may be thrilled when your patrons show increased interest in local lore, legends, and spooky tales, but never forget that incorrect storage and handling of spiritually significant objects can expose your collections to serious preservation concerns, including plagues of locusts, ectoplasmic goo, demonic possession, and the leaden, engulfing misery that one feels upon glimpsing the afterlife’s cold, gaping void and recognizing the true vastness of its eternal meaninglessness. School field trips are also common!

For the safety of your collections and all of our souls, we’ve compiled the following resource, a series of tips, tricks, and best practices for protecting your archival material from paranormal and supernatural exposure.

Temperature/Humidity:

2

Hollywood Pictures, 1999

You may be well aware that higher temperatures tend to increase the speed of most chemical reactions, including those that cause lasting damage to paper materials. At the same time, high humidity can encourage the spread of mold and chemical deterioration, while very low humidity can leave paper more susceptible to shrinking and brittling. “Huzzah!,” you may think, as the cold breath of a lonely spirit creeps down your neck and fills your heart with a sobering chill. “This drop in temperature will be great for preservation!”

In fact, according to Paul N. Banks and Roberta Pilette’s Preservation: Issues and Planning (ALA, 2000), archival records are hygroscopic, meaning “they take up and give off moisture in response to the ambient relative humidity” (115).  As a result, rapid fluctuations in temperature and humidity can be even more damaging to materials than a steady, less-than-ideal environment.

Do not store valuable records in areas of recognized cold spots in your repository, like the office where the first cataloger died suddenly after hearing about the transition to EAD. The abrupt drop in temperature when a specter enters the room can be an unwelcome change to physical materials.

Permeance:

3

Hawk Films, 1980

Another consideration when choosing storage locations is permeance, defined by Banks and Pilette as “the degree to which water vapor can pass into and through the building envelope” (126). They recommend shelving materials away from exterior walls to avoid condensation, mildew, and, we can assume, blood, viscera, or the passing through of small companies of fallen civil war soldiers.

(On the other hand, the underground film vault at the Wisconsin Historical Society has some moisture problems, and the hanging black tarps on the walls can, at first glance, be mistaken for Babadooks.)

Lighting:

Light of all frequencies – whether visible or invisible – is a form of energy that can damage collections by warming temperatures, fading or discoloring papers, and weakening material bonds. In general, higher frequency light (especially UV daylight) is more damaging than lower frequencies. While UV and blue light filters can be used to temper high frequency light, any light exposure will cause damage over time.

Keep lights off in the stacks when not in use, and avoid motion-sensor switches that can be tripped by roaming spirits or playful poltergeists.

4

Caseway Films, 2014

FAQ: I have noticed that some spirits in my institution seem to emit their own light, a shimmering aura that warms the room and brings with it a feeling of sublime peace and happiness. What frequency is that light, and is it damaging to collections?

While spectral light itself has not been widely measured, all frequencies of light can affect your archival materials. Keep records closed in thick archival boxes to prevent light exposure. And remember that some spirits use a peaceful light to soothe and distract while they slowly infiltrate your psyche and/or pick your pockets.

5

Columbia Pictures, 1984

Insects:

According to MuseumPests.net, insects can be both a direct threat to collection materials and an indication that the environment is not properly controlled. Blunderers like flies and beetles burrow in from the outside, suggesting that doors, walls, and windows are not tightly secured. Indicators like springtails and booklice feed on mold and fungus that grow in warm, damp environments. Firebrats, silverfish, and some beetles will consume paper, cardboard, and book bindings, while moths will feed on fabric materials.

6

American International Pictures, 1979

Though treating and preventing insect infestation generally requires a dedicated program of integrated pest management, consider also that you may be a filthy sinner and that God is sending you a message.

Multimedia Collections:

7

Dreamworks, 2002

Audio-visual materials, including photographs, motion picture film, grooved media, and magnetic tape, carry unique preservation concerns, including color fading, vinegar syndrome, sticky shed, palmitic acid, and delamination.

In addition, multimedia materials are uniquely at risk of a phenomenon called “projected thermography,” “thoughtography,” or “psychic photography,” where film and magnetic tape may be exposed or altered through contact with the psychic energy of particularly disturbed individuals. It is recommended that multimedia objects be kept in separate polyethylene or polypropylene cases, sleeves, or cans to prevent the spread of corrupting forces like anger, fear, or unhappy memories. Further, you reserve the right to deny archival access to unaccompanied children with long dark hair and wet Victorian pajamas.

Measurement Devices:

8

Dark Sky Films/Glass Eye Pix, 2011

Preservation environments can be monitored with the use of hygrothermographs or hygrometers, which measure and/or record temperature and humidity, and light meters, which indicate the level of light exposure to a particular area.

EMG meters and Geiger counters may be used to detect fluctuations in electromagnetic fields and radiation, and EVP recorders may be used to capture messages communicated from beyond the grave.

Isolation:

9

New Line Cinema, 2013

Some preservation experts recommend isolating new acquisitions for up to 1 year to address issues of insects, mold, or haunting before they spread to other collections. Particularly disturbed materials should be isolated indefinitely, and try to avoid prolonged eye-contact.

10

Walt Disney Pictures, 1993

Exorcism (a.k.a. spiritual de-accessioning):

The performance of the rites of exorcism is not recommended on archival material. Chemical damage can be incurred by material exposed to holy water or pea soup, and physical damage is likely upon the release of trapped souls from cursed objects. Consider demonic possession to be an interesting element of provenance.

11

Heyday Films, 2002

FAQ: There’s something weird, and it don’t look good. Who you gonna call?

Contact the American Institute for Conservation National Heritage Responders for your emergency conservation needs.

Finally, it should go without saying that the following activities are not recommended for outreach events or team-building exercises around at-risk heritage materials: smoking, food or beverage, ouija boards, divination boards, light-as-feather-stiff-as-a-board, Bloody Mary, Candyman, “Day-O (Banana Boat Song),” all work and no play, and pottery demonstrations.

12

Paramount Pictures, 1990

We hope these guidelines will help you to keep your materials safe, your patrons happy, and your familiars satiated this Halloween season. Check back in the future for more tips on planning for other very real preservation threats, including alien abduction, spontaneous combustion, hodags, Cloverfield monsters, and roving bands of post-apocalyptic marauders.

13

Columbia Pictures, 1984

Advertisements

Tribal communities and Archives

Written by Emily Goodrich, 1st Year

The work of an archivist might seem straightforward – collect records from donors, catalog them, and wait for researchers to use said records – but if I’ve learned anything in my studies this semester, it’s that archiving can bring its own challenges. It has been especially interesting (and often frustrating) to learn about archival efforts to work tribal populations regarding their histories and historical objects.  

Often, archivists hear collaboration and think ‘Native populations will repatriate and restrict all of our materials’ – it is a fear held so strongly by some that it is lead to stolen bodies at Effigy Mounds National Monument.[1] More often than not, it leads to archivists’ slow adaptation of policies of collaboration with tribal communities.

There are, however, archival institutions that do work closely with tribal communities in an attempt to right the wrongs of 19th and 20th century anthropologists. Take the National Anthropological Archives in Washington, D.C., one of the oldest archives in the Smithsonian Institution. The NAA started as the Bureau of Ethnology under the direction of John Wesley Powell in 1879; Powell petitioned Congress for the funds to house his records of native populations in the west.

Picture1

Two-Year Old Boy Sitting in Basket 1909, BAE GN 01102B16B 06226600, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution

“Powell and his colleagues thought [these populations] would disappear,” said Caitlin Haines, reference archivist at the NAA, “so, well intentioned, but problematic as all anthropology at the time was.”

As such, the Bureau of Ethnology became a center for anthropological work pertaining the North American Native populations, growing their collection until 1965, when it merged with the department of anthropology to become the NAA.

“We have the largest collections of Native language documents and largest collections of Native American portraiture,” said Haines. “Because of this, our second largest user group is Native researchers.  We do a significant amount of outreach and collaborative work with Native communities.”

The NAA works with Native researchers to improve their cataloging and collection descriptions, asking researchers to inform the reference archivists of mistranslated material or access issues.

“I always let researchers know that they will likely come across problematic descriptions while they’re researching,” said Haines about her reference work. “We also work on changing access rights when researchers come up and let us know, ‘hey, we think this shouldn’t be accessed,’ or ‘only women should be able to see these records.’”

For example, the NAA has a large collection of Ghost Dance photos; according an agreement with the Arapaho tribe, these photos are accessible in person, but will never be digitized. Researchers can’t copy or take photos of the Ghost Dance records without permission from the tribe. “We encourage researchers to contact tribes they’re doing research on, since so much has been written about them without their input,” said Haines.

Along with efforts from the NAA, there are programs like Mukurtu out of Washington State working with tribal populations on digital archives. They’ve also created traditional knowledge (TK) labels. “The TK labels recognize that large amounts of Indigenous materials are in the public domain, but may be missing information, or may in fact be misused,” according to the Mukurtu website. NAA and Mukurtu do a lot of work together to better serve native populations in the US and worldwide.

While it is fascinating to hear what projects the NAA are working on – including programs like Breath of Life, in which 12 to 15 tribes send representatives to DC to immerse themselves in the language records, taking their notes and copies of records home for their own tribal language revitalization projects – Haines says that working in the NAA is a bubble.

“I go to conferences for SAA and realize other archivists aren’t talking about working with [tribal communities],” said Haines. “It can get frustrating.”

Still, Haines is proud of the work the NAA is doing, despite remaining problems in their own collection.

“This is the only archives I’ve worked at where we were doing something that matter, we were actually doing things that served the people represented in our holdings and working to right the wrongs of the past and government work,” said Haines.

[1] Phoebe Judge, BEARS, BIRDS, AND BONES, Criminal: Episode 72, podcast audio, August 4, 2017, http://thisiscriminal.com/episode-72-bears-birds-and-bones-7-3-2017/.

Copyright Information: Blog content, current and past, belongs to the SAA-SC member credited. Please credit the University of Wisconsin-Madison Society of American Archivists-Student Chapter Archives Month Blog AND the creator if citing. Please contact the individual or uwarchivists@gmail.com for copyright details.

Adding Digital Records to the Archives-What Twitter can offer us

Written by Nicholas Miller, first year

Long before the age of tapping some keys and pressing a button marked ‘Send’ there was an age where when you wanted to talk to someone you wrote a letter, paid someone to physically deliver it, and waited for a response. Slow and unreliable, those old letters are still great benefits to archivists for giving us a look into the lives and times of people. Whether famous or mundane, the letters let us read what was happening in those people’s lives as they wrote, giving us insight into wars, revolutions, the effects of great discoveries, or how settlers compared the frontier to back home.

Today, though, this time honored tradition is being supplemented by the introduction of digital media such as email and Twitter. While letters are still written, people today prefer digital technology for its speed over physical mail and ability to communicate instantly from anywhere you have cell reception. Rather than endanger the archival profession as some class texts might hint to you, technology actually presents us with some opportunities that we didn’t have before for its very strengths: speed and that it can be used literally anywhere and everywhere.

An article I read for class, Preserving Social Media Records of Activism by Bergis Jules, dealt with this difference. Jules is a member of Documenting the Now, a joint effort between several prominent universities and to archive digital media. Jules began his article talking about the impact of modern digital media on riots. He used two similar events, the Watts Rebellion of 1965 and the Ferguson Protests of 2014. Both involved confrontations between black citizens reacting and white police officers, but there is a startling difference in the records that we have between the two.

The Watts Rebellion was incredible, causing millions of dollars in damage along with scores of arrests, deaths, and hundreds of injuries. Despite the magnitude of this and other riots like it, though, Jules could only turn up a few primary sources for them, with almost nothing from people’s personal accounts available. While more could probably be found with a more exhaustive search, it’s clear that there was a dearth of people’s personal information on the Watts Rebellion. As a result, our knowledge of the intimate details of the Rebellion is more limited than we might like.

colemiller

“Ferguson dc protest 112514 2,” Neil Cooler, https://www.flickr.com/photos/digitaldefection/15694390430, “CC BY 2.0

Ferguson, on the other hand, is a different story. Protesters not only used Twitter at the front lines to bring attention to the event across the nation, but tweets of support and discussion came from across the globe. We have thousands of pictures taken on the scene showing citizens vs. police, tweets of support from as far away as Palestine, and helped put Ferguson permanently into the minds of the country and the world itself. What truly sets Ferguson apart from Watts is how these tweets are all available for archivists to collect and preserve for posterity’s sake.  

Documenting the Now managed to collect a sample of 45 million tweets over 15 months of the protest’s life. This collection provides a look at what these protesters were doing during the riots, their confrontations with the police, and even their solidarity with other groups. We have huge numbers of stories, from both the people on the ground, their supporters, their opposition, and other people across the world.

This effort on their part will help keep the people involved in Ferguson alive in the minds of the world. Not just which it happened, but who was part of it and why they took part. This is an amazing step forward from what archives had to preserve from the earlier Watts Rebellion and after this taste of the future of archives we should be excited to see what is coming next!

References:

Jules, Bergis, “Preserving Social Media Records of Activism,” On Archivy: Medium.com, November 24, 2015.

Copyright Information: Blog content, current and past, belongs to the SAA-SC member credited. Please credit the University of Wisconsin-Madison Society of American Archivists-Student Chapter Archives Month Blog AND the creator if citing. Please contact the individual or uwarchivists@gmail.com for copyright details.

Box of Negatives from Hell

Written by Sarah Cooper, 2nd year

So this summer I volunteered at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research (WCFTR) where I processed a number of collections, including a collection of negatives and photographs from the University Theater which were mostly from the 1930s to the mid-1950s.  There was one box from this collection in particular (right) that was quite the adventure to process.  I’ll call it the box of negatives from Hell.  Now I had worked with negatives before, but this was the first time that I had come across negatives that had deteriorated to the extent that these images had.

scooperimage1

The first thing that I noticed when I opened the box was a very prevalent unpleasant smell which was kind of like vinegar.  Many of the envelopes made a crinkling, brittle sound when touched, and some were even stuck to the bottom of the box and each other.  What was going on in this box was that there were two different types of negatives that had spent many years in not the most ideal environment and were now at various stages of deterioration.  The envelopes that were stuck to other envelopes and the bottom of the box were all nitrate negatives, which were relatively common for this time period.  As most people probably know, nitrate negatives and films are very flammable and must be treated with care.  They also tend to sort of “melt” which causes them to get stuck to each other and any material around them and this “melting” also completely destroys the image that was on the negative.  Below are some examples of from this box of nitrate negatives that have deteriorated.

scooperimage2

Negative sticking to envelope

scooperimage3

 

scooperimage4

As nitrate deteriorates it “melts” the image away into a glob

scooperimage5

The other negatives in the box were acetate negatives which are not flammable like nitrate, but they still become unstable and deteriorate until the image on them is destroyed.  These were all the envelopes that made a crinkling, brittle sound when handled.  Basically what happens when acetate negatives deteriorate is that plastic like coating or layer starts to shrink whereas the rest of the negative does not.  This results in the image becoming more and more distorted as the plastic layer obscures the rest of the image.  Examples of this are below.

scooperimage6

Would be kind of pretty if there wasn’t an image being destroyed…

scooperimage7

Medium stage of deterioration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

scooperimage10

This just makes me want to cry!

When you find negatives like this, the only thing that you can really do is get rid of them.  You can no longer see the image, so the negative really has no value and will only spread and cause other negatives to deteriorate.  So what we did was separate out those negatives that were in good condition, those that had only just started to deteriorate, and those that were past saving.  The nitrate negatives that were in good condition, were put in acid free folders and boxes and put in a special cold room in the Wisconsin Historical Society where nitrate materials are kept in a more climate controlled environment.  Those that had only just started to deteriorate and where the image was still easily visible were put aside to be scanned at the earliest possible date.  And finally, those that were in good condition were labeled and put into new acid free folders organized nicely in the box you see below.

scooperimage11

Isn’t it pretty now!!

 

Copyright Information: Blog content, current and past, belongs to the SAA-SC member credited. Please credit the University of Wisconsin-Madison Society of American Archivists-Student Chapter Archives Month Blog AND the creator if citing. Please contact the individual or uwarchivists@gmail.com for copyright details.

 

Archiving Community Outreach through Baseball

Written by Andy Heckroth, 2nd year

Last year, I wrote about the intricacies of archiving baseball moments. This year, I will do the same but for a different context. Last Saturday, the Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees in the final seventh game to go to the World Series. Game Seven in sports is often considered the best game to watch, for it is the deciding game between two dueling teams, whether it be basketball, hockey, or baseball. Yet what makes this win so sweet for the Astros was not for the team itself, but for the overall city and metro area.

Andyimage1

Houston Astros right-fielder George Springer directly points to his “Houston Strong” patch after hitting a home-run.

Hurricane Harvey left behind billions of dollars in damage and directly affected countless lives in the Houston metro area, as well as in Louisiana. As citizens tried to bounce back from Harvey, the Houston Astros played on, wearing a patch labeled “STRONG” with the Astros’ logo on top. Now, how can we compare this to archives?

Well, archives and libraries are institutions of higher learning and collaborative engagement. In these safe spaces, memories and important fixtures in life are documented and preserved for years to come. When I observe the Houston Astros, I do not just see a regular baseball team advancing to the biggest stage of the season: the World Series. I see a group of individuals who indirectly affect every citizen of Houston for the better. Here, we see a team become role models for the city as everyone tries to recover from Hurricane Harvey. Within this team are individuals from different socio-economic backgrounds, mirroring the makeup of the city of Houston. Regardless of what happens in the World Series, the Astros made their mark this year on the Houston community.

From an archiving standpoint, how does the Houston community document what this team does in context to Harvey recovery efforts? Some can say that this team had little to no effect on the communities because they played the simplest of games, earning multi-million dollar contracts for swinging a bat and catching a ball. Yet for those who follow the game and specifically this team, there will be much more than winning the game. It is winning back the city by coming together to create a more vibrant community.

So the challenge for archivists is this: how can we archive these events? Coverage of this game within the context of Hurricane Harvey should be preserved. Here we directly see a city coming together to support a team that the entire city supports, even though different communities within the city are going through different tough circumstances. One possibility is asking individuals at this game how the Astros impacted their lives with regard to Harvey. This can generate a variety of answers. Perhaps the baseball players should be asked if they made a difference with their performance after Harvey? There are many different possibilities archivists can do.

Andyimage2.png

References:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2740045-astros-huge-game-7-win-dedicated-to-houston-after-hurricane-harveys-terror

http://abcnews.go.com/US/houston-astros-world-series-rallies-city-harvey/story?id=50657583

Copyright Information: Blog content, current and past, belongs to the SAA-SC member credited. Please credit the University of Wisconsin-Madison Society of American Archivists-Student Chapter Archives Month Blog AND the creator if citing. Please contact the individual or uwarchivists@gmail.com for copyright details.

 

The Archives as Art: Creating New Pieces from the Past

 

Written by Sam Wolf, 1st year

Ahh, the archives. The place where history, the present, and library science collide. And… art?

Let’s go back to earlier this year, spring 2017. I’m in my final semester of my undergraduate at UW-Superior, and taking a cross-genre writing course. We have been tasked with creating a writing project that defies normal understanding of genre. I toss around a few ideas before settling on something that I am intimately familiar with: the Jim Dan Hill Special Collections. I have worked at what I affectionately call The Archive for all four years of my undergrad, and it would be fitting to use it as my crowning work.

I settle on the idea of creating what I deem a docu-novel. This is a story told entirely in documents I would find in the archive. I consulted with my supervisor to make sure I would not be violating any copyright laws, and set to work. The Archive houses three major collections: the Lake Superior Maritime Collection, the University Archives, and the Wisconsin Historical Society, Douglas and Washburn County collections. The majority of my time in The Archive had been spent working with the Maritime Collection, and I want to step out of my comfort zone. I decide to start with the Douglas County Immigration Records. I scan a Declaration of Intention document, seen in the image below, and set to work. Using the magic of my roommate’s photo manipulation software, I purge the document of all identifying features of the original applicant. I then add in my own character. I do this three times, creating a fictional family.

SamWolfArchives1

Declaration of Intent document from Douglas County immigration records found at the UW-Superior Jim Dan Hill Special Collections

The immigration documents give a nice snapshot of familial history and connections. The Declaration of Intent served to have the immigrant renounce their claims to any and all other countries and rulers. They had to fill out physical identification, such as hair and eye color, complexion, and the like. Occupation was also listed, as well as former and current residence. From a genealogical standpoint, immigration documents are fantastic, if they are able to be located.

For my purposes, the immigration documents serve to establish the characters I will work with for the rest of my project. Characters alone are not enough to establish a narrative. I look at the other records The Archive holds, and come across licensing records, including dog licenses. Through this, readers have to infer that the family kept a dog. I do not state this explicitly. I also find ambulance records, hospital records, and quarantine records. I blur out the names of the actual people, and again insert the names of my characters. Only through careful scrutiny of the documents does the story start to emerge.

SamWolfArchives2.png

Record of dog licenses in Douglas County, found at the UW-Superior Jim Dan Hill Special Collections

Flash forward to now. The creation of my project was a lot of work, and I am only now able to appreciate the complete impact of my work. I feel that I successfully emulated the role of an archivist. More often than not, these stories are not clear-cut and easy to understand. The archivist serves as the interpreter of these pieces. After workshopping in the class, I ended up having to introduce a researcher as well as an archivist character into my narrative in order to form cohesion between the separate parts of the story. The archivist acted as the liaison between the raw information the documents provided, and the questions the researcher had.

I ended up using all three of the major collections in The Archive. I was happy that this was the case. The Maritime Collection reigns as my favorite, but in order to appreciate The Archive, one must understand the range of information it contains. To be honest, working with the Maritime Collection was the most difficult part of the project, and the least rewarding. I enjoyed handling the WHS records for class this semester a lot more.

An archive does not have to be constrained to genealogists, researchers, and historians. There are ample opportunities for creative expression, as long as care is taken to protect the original people involved. I had a fantastic time working on this project, and would love to revisit the concept in the future.

Copyright Information: Blog content, current and past, belongs to the SAA-SC member credited. Please credit the University of Wisconsin-Madison Society of American Archivists-Student Chapter Archives Month Blog AND the creator if citing. Please contact the individual or uwarchivists@gmail.com for copyright details.

Remember When…

smartphones

Remember when this was hours of entertainment?

Written by Rebecca Kuske, 1st Year

Remember when you used to flip open your cell phone?  Remember when you first played Fruit Ninja on a touch screen?  Remember when you used to have to rewind your VHS tape after you watched it, so the next time you needed to see 101 Dalmatians, it was ready to go?  Remember when tweeting was not a presidential form of communication?  Remember when video cameras were used to document a dance recital instead of used as proof that you did not do anything wrong?  Remember when words did not follow you home from school in forms of posts and statuses?  Remember when the internet was exciting and not a black hole of information and documentation?

Our world is changing rapidly, and I feel that in the information profession, it is our responsibility to go with the flow as new things come and others go.  We are tasked with finding a way to organize, communicate, and access all this new information.  As an archivist, we are tasked with acquiring, collecting, and preserving ephemera and records of today for the researchers of tomorrow.  These records are not the same as they were five, fifteen, or twenty years ago.  New challenges are being presented constantly.  I am going to offer you three ideas that I feel are important for an aspiring archivist to know about this ever-changing field.  

Remember when they said original order…

Original order has become a well-accepted and commonly practiced theory for arrangement.  It basically means that an archivist should not change the original order or stray from the creator’s intent for the organization of a collection.  This makes sense.  Original order could offer something to the historical context, but at the same time, it could also emphasize social injustices.  The latter idea has become a prominent debate within the archival community.  Many believe that “original order forces archivists to maintain the logic and bureaucratic order of the repressive regime enacting further violence on its victims, survivors, and their families” (Wood et al., 2014).  This brings human rights and social justice issues to the forefront, and it gives archivist new avenues in arrangement and description.

Remember when archives were just boxes of written material…

This is probably the biggest change to the archival profession.  We now have an abundance of digital records from tweets to emails to videos.  This is entirely uncharted territory, and it creates so many questions.  What is private information and what is completely public?  How do retain these records?  What policies need to change with these new acquisitions?  We currently have the Internet Archives crawling websites and becoming a storage space for other institutions, but is that the format we need to follow?  This allows for so many more theories and ideas to be put into practice.  It’s an opening in the field that many are working to fill.  

Remember when archives were just for the researchers…

I would argue that archives were never just for the researcher, but this is what people tend to believe.  It has a dark, dusty reputation; however, now is the time for archivists to change this perception.  This is where outreach comes into play.  Budget cuts are unfortunately a reality in many cultural institutions throughout the United States.  Archivists need to show now, more than ever, how important we are as a resource.  We need to reach out and publicize what archives hold.  Their contents are vital to communities and groups of people.  Many are challenging archives “to be more inclusive in their archival practices through outreach, collaboration, and descriptive practices” (Wakimoto et al., 2013).  This true and necessary across the board.  

Archives hold so much “temporal, spatial and affective power,” and this is expressed through the theoretical, technological, and social changes that are occurring (Buchanan & Bastian, 2015).  This also makes it such an exciting time to be part of the archival field.  It gives us an opportunity to use what we remember from the past to help form ideas for all things new in the future.  With that said, I want to wish a happy Archives Month to all, and to all, happy remembering!

 

References:

Wood, S., Carbone, K., Cifor, M. et al. (2014) Mobilizing records: re-framing archival description to support human rights. Archival Science, 14, (3-4). Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/10.1007/s10502-014-9233-1

Wakimoto, D.K., Bruce, C. & Partridge, H. (2013) Archivist as activist: lessons from three queer community archives in California. Archival Science, 13 (4). Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/10.1007/s10502-013-9201-1

Buchanan, A. & Bastian, M. (2015) Activating the archive: rethinking the role of traditional archives for local activist projects. Archival Science, 15 (4). Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/10.1007/s10502-015-9247-3

Photo Credit: https://lolnein.com/2015/05/25/smartphonevsflipphone/

Copyright Information: Blog content, current and past, belongs to the SAA-SC member credited. Please credit the University of Wisconsin-Madison Society of American Archivists-Student Chapter Archives Month Blog AND the creator if citing. Please contact the individual or uwarchivists@gmail.com for copyright details.