Like so many in our community we’ve been wanting to reach out this week and struggling to find a way to do so that’s meaningful, at a time when violence against people of color and many of the structures that perpetuate it have been especially laid bare. We’ve been thinking about the good that archives do, all the while mindful that archives and software applications are not neutral, and are themselves capable of perpetuating structures that harm or silence. We’ve been thinking about the part that ArchivesSpace can play in making progress in these often disheartening times.
We’ve been specifically thinking of ways ArchivesSpace can support and amplify those that document and empower individuals, organizations and communities that work to make the world a more inclusive place. We’ve also been thinking about how ArchivesSpace itself can be more inclusive. We’ve come up with a few ideas so far like subsidizing memberships and deployments for some community archives, tribal archives, and grassroots organizations; convening a working group to examine unconscious bias and barriers to entry in the ArchivesSpace application; and working with organizations and groups that help others understand ethical collecting and archival description to identify best practices for using (or not using) ArchivesSpace. We’ve started a running list for discussion at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1b-GlCSObflqZufIiN4dJ__hlppwPloHXzytsUEVlZp4/edit?usp=sharing.
What we want most is to hear your ideas. We’re going to devote our next open call on June 24 to these issues, and we also want to consider ways we can incorporate them more organically into our ongoing programming and our users’ experience of ArchivesSpace. Please come with your thoughts, questions, and suggestions. And please reach out to us at any time. We welcome your participation in any form.
We’re so proud that the ArchivesSpace community reflects many different kinds of archives, serving many different communities. We’re so proud that our members range from entirely volunteer-run non-profit organizations to some of the largest academic archives in the world. We truly appreciate the many different viewpoints represented by the collections people manage in ArchivesSpace, and the many different viewpoints of the people who manage these collections in ArchivesSpace. We believe our community can become even richer by drawing in more viewpoints.
We’re also mindful that many of us have been pushed to or past our limits already, not only by the events of recent months but also by the different challenges we each face even in the best of times. We recognize that none of us carries the same load, but that some of us go through life with one that is heavier than others. While we have no delusions about the role of an archival information management system in the grand scheme of things, in the end we hope to in some small way contribute to making those loads lighter, not heavier.
Thank you for the part you play in that and for being with us at this incredibly challenging time. We wish you health, safety, and solace as, like us, you grapple with how best to navigate this world with those you love and make it better.