What I’m reading this week

Check out here and here if you missed the last couple posts on this topic. This has been a busy few days, so my reading list is a shorter than previous weeks.

Articles I read this week

Archival Outlook: This short publication by the Society of American Archivists arrives on my doorstep (or more accurately, gets crammed into the slice of post office box space allotted to me by the building manager) six times a year and each time is a treat. Unlike the, shall we say, the more traditional, professional journal, The American Archivist, which offers its own set of great articles, Outlook takes a lighter tone. It’s the difference between having a great dinner and having a great dinner with wine; between a productive weekend and a fun weekend…you get the point!

Some of the most engaging articles in this issue include Anne Hartman’s discussion of working with tribal leaders in Oregon to forge new ground on their Archives and Kim Eberhard and Colleen McEwen’s discussion of The Universal Declaration of Archives, a new UNESCO-endorsed advocacy move for archives everywhere.

Digital content I read this week

Social Justice Librarian: It’s all about the community, interactions between library users and librarians (this blog focuses on public and some academic/university libraries. Still, it’s relevant for archivists, even those working in federal institutions), and how libraries can be viewed as spaces where the basic tenets of social justice are espoused. This blog offers an honest look into issues the authors view as inhibiting real change. Here’s a great example of their frankness:

Sharing resources equitably underscores the idea of social justice and what the public library is or should be about, right? Well, maybe the connection isn’t so obvious.

In my over 25 years of library work in the northeastern U.S., I have rarely heard explicit discussions about the role of libraries and librarians and how we might improve peoples’ lives through a social justice orientation. Either we take it for granted, don’t really get it, think it’s the role of civil rights lawyers and/or social workers, or, as my 7 year old daughter likes to say, “whatevs.” Maybe it is just too scary because it might be considered political or partisan. We wouldn’t want to be controversial now, would we?

Reading this blog urges me to ask important questions of the archival profession, the implications of our work on a larger community, and provides a fresh lens through which I understand the materials I am processing on a daily basis.

The Atlas of New Librarianship: The website is a companion to the book put together by R. David Lankes (who is a major player in the library field and a great public speaker to boot)!  The book and website ask a basic question: What is librarianship when it is unmoored from cataloging, books, buildings, and committees? His focus is on knowledge and learning aimed at practitioners devoted to community-building or at the very least community facilitation. The website is a little tricky to navigate, but if you head to the “Threads” tab, you’ll find a list of categories that each contain sub-categories, which are used as topics for well-written and resource-heavy essays. Sometimes, I head to the site, roll the dice on a sub-category and get reading! While I don’t have the physical copy of the book, this website provides some great visuals including this one described as “The Map (of New Librarianship).”

See you all next week!

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