Fellow Reflection: Sarah Barsness

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This Fellow Reflection was provided by Sarah Barsness (@SarahRBarsness), Digital Collections Assistant at the Minnesota Historical Society, who was an AMIA+DLF Virtual Cross-Pollinator this year. 

Sarah also pulled together resources from the DLF Forum, DigiPres16, and AMIA on Pindex. Feel free to share or contribute to the page. Thanks Sarah! 

I’ve spent the last few days putting together my notes from NDSA Digital Preservation 2016, looking over the conference program and paging through my tweets from the conference and the days on either end.  As I think back, what I’m most struck by are the emotions: the devastation I felt as the election results came in, the fire and passion ignited by Bergis Jules’ keynote, the camaraderie I felt with my fellow cross-pollinators as we tweeted away, the unspoken bond we all shared as we looked ahead to the future and then to each other for strength and inspiration.  In writing this reflection, I wasn’t sure how I could separate those feelings from the stuff of the conference itself: tools I learned about, things I’m excited to try now that I’m back in the office, colleagues met, and business cards exchanged.

The fact of the matter is that I simply can’t separate them, and the most important thing I learned at the conference is that it’s okay.  For all the time we tend to devote to talking tech, everything we do is about people.  It’s about the donors we work with, the relationships we build with our co-workers, the researchers we seek to serve, the community of professional practice we’ve built for ourselves.

I’ve never been a believer in the neutrality of archiving, but coming to grips with what intentional, mindful partiality might mean for my work at a large historical society is something new to me.  Acknowledging the heavy influence of people on what I do has been both liberating and profound, because it means questioning every single thing I do, interrogating how I go about my work, and how I can better recognize and serve the human elements of my job.  Between now and Digital Preservation 2017, I plan on running with this idea and seeing what happens – no matter where it ends up, I’m sure it will be somewhere interesting.