Books I’m reading this week
An Archive of Feeling: This is not an ‘archives’ book in particular. It’s cataloged as cultural criticism dealing with trauma and sexuality. But, the message relates, as many things for me tend to do, back to the work of an archivist in developing, protecting and making accessible an archive of materials. The author Ann Cvetkovich explain her title and the organization of the book as,
…an exploration of cultural texts as repositories of feelings and emotions … encoded not only in the content of the texts themselves but in the practices that surround their production and reception (7).
Much later in the book she remarks,
The archive of feeling therefore holds many kinds of documents, both ephemeral and material. It has its own forms of unabashed sentimentality…But it also documents those moments when it is not possible to feel anything and when something other than a families or cliched scene is necessary to conjure sentiment (286).
And finally, one of my favorite quotes,
They [archive of feeling] can make one feel totally alone, but in being made public, they are revealed to be part of a shared experience of the social (286).
I spend my days and have devoted my career to the archives, which, with the help of Cvetkovich’s perspective, can be viewed as an important cultural tool that juxtaposes loneliness with the public; and engenders the archive with agency and empowerment.
Digital content I’m reading this week
NARAtions: The work over at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is different enough from the Library that I find myself interested in the collections they are receiving, how they are processing them, and the methods they are using to promote the materials in the collection. I especially enjoy the recurring weekly posts “What are you working on Wednesdays.” I’m a sucker for alliteration. If I could have named this blog to compete with a name like that, you better believe I would have done so. Alas, I stuck with simplicity and clarity! These posts offer insight into, you guessed, the different types of work that people are engaging in at another federal agency dedicated to cultural heritage.
The conspiracist in me also peeks at the National Declassification Center blog with the tagline “Releasing all we can, protecting what we must.” How’s that for mystery and excitement?
And, of course, it’s difficult to head to the NARA website without checking out U.S. Archivist David Ferrio’s blog, AOTUS: Collector in Chief to see what he’s doing.
Two weeks ago, the University of Maryland Libraries and Maryland Institute for Technology and the Humanities (MITH) along with the Library of Congress and National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) hosted Personal Digital Archiving Conference, a two-day event that brought together scholars in various fields, technicians, archivists of all kinds and innovators to showcase their ideas and technology related to personally cultivated digital archival collections.
Thanks to Internet Archive, the video of each presentation can be found here. A few presentations that speak directly to my work with ACLS include this one and this one. You can find out more about this annual conference here!
Thanks to Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division for use of “U.S. soldiers reading books in YMCA library, Vancouver barracks” photograph used in this post.