New England Archivists Fall Symposium a Big Success

Dan Bullman is a graduate student concentrating in archives management at Simmons College. When he’s not sifting through library science texts, you can find him reading sci-fi novels or lifting heavy things at the gym.

New England Archivists held its first symposium on Saturday October 26 in Amherst, MA.  Before the event, several local repositories opened their doors for a morning of tours.  Symposium attendees had the option to visit archives and special collections at UMass Amherst, Mount Holyoke College, Wistariahurst Museum, Amherst College, and Smith College.

As the symposium began, attendees packed into the conference hall at Amherst College for an afternoon of presentations and networking.  After opening remarks by Colin Lukens, Jeffrey Schnapp (Harvard) gave the plenary talk, entitled “From Archive to Arch[l]ive.”  His presentation covered case studies of the Japanese Tsunami disaster online archive, Teaching With Things, and Curarium.  He presented a 21st century concept of archives as a network that involves multiple institutions working together on common projects.

Aliza Leventhal (EBSCO) kicked off the first panel session with her presentation entitled “What to Preserve? When “preserve it all” isn’t an option.”  This talk focused on making decisions about archiving architectural digital records, since these files are often far too large to store. Mary Richardson (Yale Divinity Library) followed Leventhal with her presentation, “Archives to the Front: Lessons Learned from the Riot Grrrl Movement.”  Richardson gave a very engaging talk on how archivists can learn from the organic and grassroots practices implemented by the Riot Grrrl movement from the 1990s.  Kathy Wisser (Simmons College) closed the first panel discussion with her presentation “EAC-CPF and the Diaspora of Archival Material: Challenges and Opportunities.”

Kate Bowers and Robin McElheny (Harvard University Archives) launched the second half of the symposium with a presentation entitled “The Death of Arrangement.”  Their talk focused on how the emergence of digital archives has affected and challenged traditional views of archival arrangement.  They proposed focusing more on description when processing collections, particularly born digital content, and suggested new ways of looking at arrangement.  Rebecca Goldman (LaSalle University) followed with her witty and humorous presentation “What’s So Funny About Archives, Anyway?”  Goldman showcased comic strips from her web series “Derangement and Description” and had the room roaring with laughter.  The panel closed with Bill Ross’ (University of New Hampshire) presentation “Can we View the Repository as More like a Laboratory than a Warehouse?”  Ross discussed a myriad of ways to engage students to use to archives and presented examples from his institution.

At the end of the day, NEA REPS held a social gathering at Amherst Brewing Company.  Approximately thirty young archivists and students socialized and digested the day’s events over food and drink.

NEA will be hosting another social gathering on Monday November 4 at 5:30PM at Park Restaurant and Bar in Cambridge, MA.

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