Steering Share: A Look into LAAC’s ArchivesNOW Mini-Conference

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This end-of-year post comes from I&A Vice Chair/Chair Elect Courtney Dean, a Project Archivist at the University of California at Los Angeles Library Special Collections.

As I mentioned way back in the fall, in my very first Steering Share, I am one of the co-founders of the Los Angeles Archivists Collective (LAAC) which is a local professional org that focuses on community building, skill-sharing, and outreach, with a particular emphasis on supporting students and new professionals.

Several weeks ago we held our first ever mini-conference, entitled ArchivesNOW, at UCLA Library. Co-sponsored by LAAC, the UCLA Library, and the UCLA Department of Information Studies, the day featured a host of presentations by MLIS students and early career professionals, addressing current issues in archives. The goal of the event was to provide space for the voices of students and new professionals, and to foster conversations from their unique vantage point. We aspired to facilitate open and honest discussions that led to awareness, reflection, and interrogation, and by all accounts, we were pretty successful!

Photo by Angel Diaz. ArchivesNOW2018 swag!

The day started with a rousing keynote from Rebecca Goldman, College Archivist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and the driving force behind the establishment of SAA’s Students and New Archives Professionals (SNAP) Section in 2012. (She also runs the amazing webcomic Derrangement and Description.) Taking inspiration from Obazi Ettarh’s “Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves” and Miya Tokumitsu’s Do What You Love and Other Lies About Success and Happiness, Rebecca posed a number of provocative questions, including:

  • How does the career path of new archivist affect archivist identity- and vice versa?
  • How do we fight unreasonable expectations of new archivists, especially young archivists?
  • How do new archivists build a professional identity without sacrificing all their other identities?
  • Does social media create an unrealistic image of archives work and archivists’ lives?
Photo by Sharon Farb. Keynote by Rebecca Goldman, bringing the truth.

(Video of Rebecca’s entire keynote will be available soon on the ArchivesNOW Speakers page!)

The morning session, “Getting Ready for Work,” included Jessica Maddox, Accessioning Archivist at the University of Nevada, Reno discussing her transition from student to accessioning archivist; Noah Geraci, Digital Assets Metadata Librarian at UC Riverside on getting started with [computer] programming for archivists; Alyssa Loera, Head of Digital Services and Technology at Cal Poly Pomona on teaching expectations in academic libraries and archives; and Karly Wildenhaus, MLIS Student at UCLA, on denormalizing unpaid positions in archives and libraries.


Photo by Snowden Becker. The real financial COST of working for free on a graduate intern, from Karly Wildenhaus.

Session 2, “Archival Dilemmas: Collection-Based Case Studies,” featured Carolina Meneses, a former Metadata Technician at the University of Miami, and incoming UCLA MLIS student, discussing the practices and challenges of archiving performance; Julia Hause, Archival Studies Student at UCLA, on reviving the Salton Sea History Museum; Jonathan Naveh, MLIS/Media Archival Studies Student at UCLA on the problems that arise when processing pornography; and LAAC’s own Grace Danico, on creating diversity and inclusivity through outreach and collaboration in LAAC’s Acid Free Magazine.

Photo by Courtney Dean. Angel Diaz introduces the afternoon panel.

The day ended with paletas and Snowden Becker, co-founder of the international Home Movie Day event and the nonprofit Center for Home Movies, and currently the MLIS Program Manager in UCLA’s Department of Information Studies. Snowden teased out some of the main themes of the day, encouraged everyone to fight for more salary transparency (“that’s how the man keeps us down!”), and challenged us to think critically about what constitutes “professionalism.”

Photo by Sharon Farb. Snowden Becker and our main takeaways.

Be sure to check out #ArchivesNOW2018 on Twitter for all of the hot takes. Community notes from the day available here.

As I approach my transition into the I&A chair position, I will be bringing with me an agenda filled with many of the issues that arose at ArchivesNOW. You’ll continue to hear about all of I&A’s ongoing dynamic projects, but expect an increased focus on things like the deleterious effects of unpaid internships and temporary positions on our profession; cultural humility; and, of course, cats. See you in D.C.!


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