With this post, we continue our DLF Contribute subseries focusing on activity at public libraries.
Lauren Algee is Digital Curation Librarian at DC Public Libraries, Special Collections. Photo by John Kelly/The Washington Post.
1. What must change in our field?
To someone who works outside of academia, the digital archives and library world of professional organizations, conferences, and publications often feels university-centric. I worry the profession is missing out on the insights, questions, and challenges of our many colleagues at public libraries (ahem), historical societies, museums, government agencies, and many other types of organizations. These folks have different needs, audiences, workflows, and resources, and should be encouraged and elevated into the conversations defining our field’s current state and its future.
2. What should endure?
I think our biggest strength as a profession is a commitment to public service. I’m proud that we have begun more frequently to look outward for opportunities to serve, rather than primarily inward at our own institutions. I see this in the growth in community archives projects that give power over to the creators to shape curation, processing, and access points for their collections. At DCPL we’ve tried to implement those principles of community archiving by centering the subcultures that have built our DC Punk and Go-Go Archives. I’m also inspired by projects like A People’s Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland and XFR Collective, in which archivists volunteer their time to help communities in preserving their own personal archives and stories.
3. What are you or your colleagues geeking out on lately?
At DCPL we are very excited about the recent award of an IMLS National Leadership grant to bring our Memory Lab model for digital preservation tools and education to other public libraries. But I’m also really stoked about two other upcoming IMLS-funded projects focused on digital history and public libraries. The first, from the Internet Archive, will give web archiving training to public librarians to help document their communities. In the second, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media will train public librarians to facilitate local digital history programs across the country. Great to see support for projects that recognize and leverage the strengths of public libraries in digital literacy and community building!