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2020 New York Archives Week Symposium

  • Thursday, October 22, 2020
  • 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
  • Online


Registration is closed

The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York is pleased to announce the full schedule for the annual New York Archives Week Symposium, co-presented with the Center for Jewish History, which will take place online on Thursday, October 22nd, 2020. 

Reflecting the unprecedented moment of uncertainty and global solidarity of our current moment, this year’s annual New York Archives Week symposium addresses urgent topics surrounding the interplay between the increasing technological complexity of the born-digital historical record and the role of archival ethics, issues of precarity in archival labor and their consequences for sustainability, and the necessity of addressing structural racism in our institutions and individual practices.

Admission is free and open to all. Advance registration is required. Live captioning will be provided throughout the day. Please feel free to contact the organizers at communications@nycarchivists.org if you have any other accessibility needs. 


9:00 – 9:15 Opening Remarks & Land Acknowledgement
Rachel Miller, Director of Archive & Library Services, Center for Jewish History
Amye McCarther, President, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York

9:15 - 10:30 Opening Keynote: “Out of Silence, Toward Solidarity”
Contingency threatens to disconnect us all. Contingent workers fear the consequences of speaking openly about our precarity. Those with relative stability feel trapped in the middle of org charts, with responsibility but little control. Silence and guilt will only separate us further. A collective movement is underway to surface the vast network of precarity which underlies our profession and speak more openly about it. What happens if we pause long enough to build the connections we’ll need to define a world we want to live in?

Sandy Rodriguez, Associate Dean of Special Collections & Archives & Affiliated Faculty, Latinx and Latin American Studies, University of Missouri--Kansas City
Ruth Kitchin Tillman, Cataloging Systems & Linked Data Strategist, Penn State University

10:30 - 12:00 Re-Centering Embedded Knowledge in the Archival Technosphere
The role of archivists has become inseparable from digital stewardship as rapidly evolving technologies permeate all realms of social activity. As the diversity and quantity of digital records and media proliferate, archival interventions provide a backstop against the ephemerality of digital content and its attendant cultural amnesia. This session presents case studies of innovative uses of technology by archivists that illustrate the importance of archival ethics and embedded knowledge in navigating cultural and contextual specificities that come into play.

“Towards new data ecologies: experimenting with linked data in the archives”
Cristina Pattuelli, Professor & Co-director of the Semantic Lab, Pratt Institute

“Erasure is not inevitable: Erasure and the Aesthetics of Digital Archival Representations”
Dr. Lyneise Williams, Associate Professor of Art History, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill

“Hashtagging Our Stories: Archiving with Social Media in the Queens Memory COVID-19 Project”
Jo-Ann Wong, General Librarian, Hunters Point, Queens Library
Meral Agish, Community Coordinator, Queens Memory Project

This session is moderated by Jessica Meyerson, Director for Research & Strategy at the Educopia Institute, Co-Director of The Maintainers, and a Fellow of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

12:00 - 1:00 Break for Lunch

1:00 - 1:30 Care Session: Breathing & Movement with Alexandra Lederman
Alexandra is a trained archivist, currently working in the digital asset management space and classically trained in dance and pilates. She focuses her movement practice on accessibility (physically and financially), mental health, body neutrality, and mindfulness.

This session will explore low impact movement that can be done at your desk, how breathwork can ease anxiety, and why any kind of movement and mediation is better than none (spoiler alert: it's the endorphins!) We will focus on mobility and openers within small, controlled movements followed by a short guided meditation. No equipment is needed. If you have any questions or would like to notify the practitioner of any current or past injuries, please email lederman.alex@gmail.com

1:30 - 3:00 All Power to the People: Centering Collections and Communities in the Archives
The Blackivists are a collective of trained Black archivists based in the Chicago area who prioritize Black cultural heritage preservation and memory work. Their work addresses gaps in institutional repositories regarding the histories of people of color, queer communities, working class and underresourced communities, religious minorities, and individuals with disabilities. The Blackivists provide professional expertise on cultural heritage archiving and preservation practices to document historically underdocumented communities, with services built on a framework that centers a people-first approach to collecting and care of archival materials, and that reflects an active resistance to racism, sexism, ableism, religious, class and gender oppression, and environmental harm.

In this session, members of the Blackivists will lead attendees in a conversation focused on centering collections and communities in archival work. Using case studies from their collaborative projects and other institutions, they will provide examples and resources that will encourage attendees to think differently about how to amplify heritage and culture that traditionally has been at the margins within archival institutions.

Steven D. Booth, Audiovisual Archivist, Obama Presidential Library, U.S. National Archives
Tracy Drake, Archivist, Reed College Special Collections & Archives
Raquel Flores-Clemons, University Archivist & Director of Archives, Records Management, and Special Collections, Chicago State University

3:00 - 4:30 Collectivity, Allyship, and Mutual Support: Cultivating Collaboration and Solidarity in the Workplace
The independence and autonomy that archivists embrace as part of our calling can have its drawbacks. Archivists regularly contend with inadequate resources to address a widening array of responsibilities and community needs. Yet while the technical and educational demands of the field have increased, compensation and job security have remained uneven–particularly for emerging professionals–placing both collections and their stewards at risk and negatively impacting the diversity of the profession.

This roundtable session will feature short presentations from a variety of professional contexts that illustrate the mosaic of individual and collaborative activities that collectively contribute to sustainability and workplace justice. Following the presentations, we will open the floor for discussion. In order to foster candid dialogue between colleagues, this session will only be open to registered attendees and will not be recorded.

"Precarity and (Un)Sustainability: A Look at the Current State of Archival Labor"
Courtney Dean, Head, Center for Primary Research & Training, UCLA Library Special Collections

"Supervisor Perspectives on Using Temporary Positions in Archives: A Survey in New York City"
Max Thorn, Adjunct Instruction Librarian, Queens College, CUNY

“How We Make Change”
Karly Wildenhaus, member of the DLF Labor Working Group and the ARLIS/NA Advocacy and Public Policy Committee

“Practical Organizing: How Do We Get Stuff Done?”
Jenny Swadosh, Archivist, and Archivists Round Table Member since 2009

"Actually Talking About Power"
Amy Wickner

This session is co-moderated by ART Director of Programming Megan Williams and ART President Amye McCarther.

4:30 - 5:30 Closing keynote:
"Self-named Stewards of the Historical Record: Vocational Awe, Martyrdom, and Burnout"

Fobazi M. Ettarh is the undergraduate success librarian at Rutgers–Newark. Her identities as a first-generation American, queer, and disabled women of color shapes her librarianship, which is guided by critical perspectives and the deconstruction of white supremacy. Creator of the concept of “vocational awe,” Fobazi’s research focuses on the tensions between the espoused values of librarianship and the realities present in the experiences of marginalized librarians and users. She also studies equity, diversity, and inclusion in libraries, specifically how social and organizational infrastructures privilege the works of certain groups over others. Fobazi is the author of the article “Vocational Awe: The Lies We Tell Ourselves” and the blog WTF is A Radical Librarian, Anyway, which examines issues at the intersections of librarianship, education, activism, and social justice. Her keynote will examine how the concept of "vocational awe" may be applied within an archival context. 


We'd like to thank the Center for Jewish History, for generously hosting the annual New York Archives Week Symposium in years past and co-hosting this year's virtual program The Center for Jewish History (CJH) is one of the foremost Jewish research and cultural institutions in the world. It is home to five partner organizations—American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research—whose collections total more than 500,000 volumes and 100 million documents and include thousands of pieces of artwork, textiles, ritual objects, recordings, films and photographs. www.cjh.org

Questions? communications@nycarchivists.org

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