Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post is from I&A Steering Committee Member Alison Stankrauff. She is an Archivist and Associate Librarian at Indiana University South Bend.
What was your first job in a library, archive, or museum?
My first job in an archive was as a student worker at the Walter P. Reuther Library Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University. I was working through the Archives Administration and MLIS program at Wayne State. I worked with the amazing Detroit News and Free Press Collection – scanning its glass and acetate negatives for preservation, putting them into acid-free enclosures, entering metadata into the system. I loved that job and working with the amazing archivists and staff at the Reuther. I kept the negatives’ original paper enclosures (instead of recycling them) and then did detective work on bicycle rides around the city – I learned SO much about my beloved Detroit’s history!
What made you want to join the I&A Steering Committee?
I feel very connected to making sure that the wider world know about archives – and primary sources, and the institutions that house them – are so important. They’re far from a luxury or a secondary concern for our society. Archives and professionals to properly care for and make these collections accessible are essential to a democratic society. I feel that archives and trained professionals are ever more important as we move forward to a presidency that questions verifiable data and information.
What is one major issue you see archives tackling in the next five to ten years?
I’d love to see the archival programs throughout North America really tackle and incorporate more classwork for students about teaching with primary sources. Another SAA group I’m active with, the Reference, Access, and Outreach Section (RAO), is taking this on. I’m a member of RAO’s Teaching with Primary Sources Working Group (TPS) and we are surveying archives masters programs throughout America and Canada to see how they’re teaching and what they’re teaching – or not. We hope to publish our survey, so stay tuned!
What archive issue means a lot to you?
I think, per my answer about joining I&A, our cultural institutions are increasingly under attack in ways that we’ve not experienced previously or anticipated. So I think that working with other archivists and information professionals to advocate for archives is key going forward. As a lone arranger in a woefully under-funded institution, I need all the help and extra voice that I can get to lend support to my message!
Describe and share an interesting archive you have come across over the years.
This past summer, I visited Bulgaria on one of my fantastic cycling vacations. I went there directly following the LGBTQ+ Archives, Libraries, Museums, and Special Collections conference in London, where I was presenting our LGBTQ+ Collection with other small archives from the U.S. I was able to visit an amazing archive of the Shumen Mosque in northeastern Bulgaria. This was an honor and the experience impressed itself upon me in so many ways.