DIY archives

Gosh darn this is cool: Radical Reference is hosting a DIY archives skillshare during the NYC Anarchist Bookfair next weekend.  Archivists from the Tamiment Library and Democracy Now! will talk about archiving physical and digital materials.  Yay! Archiving doesn’t have to be done by a certified archivist. The more people archiving material, the better. More people taking responsibility for and interest in history means more history being saved and told. I’m always happy when I see librarians or archivists freely handing out thier knowledge.  If people have a basic sense of how to archive their own collections, or, say, all those turn-of-the-century Czech plays in their Czech hall, they don’t need to turn it over to an archive. Because archives can’t take everything. Just because it’s important to you doesn’t mean it is to them, or they don’t have the space, time or money to keep it.  I love DIY anything, but I can really get behind this talk. I wish I could be there.

Here’s Radical Reference’s mission statement: Radical Reference is a collective of volunteer library workers who believe in social justice and equality. We support activist communities, progressive organizations, and independent journalists by providing professional research support, education and access to information. We work in a collaborative virtual setting and are dedicated to information activism to foster a more egalitarian society.

You don’t get much cooler than that.

Aaaaand… if you didn’t know about the Tamiment Library, check it out! It’s connected with the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at NYU and has one of the best collections of the history of radical politics, labor and the Left. Here’s a list of some topics they cover:  socialism, communism, anarchism, utopian experiments, the cultural left, the New Left, and the struggle for civil rights and civil liberties. It is the repository for the Archives of Irish America, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, and a growing Asian American labor collection.

Here’s their collections overview.

Here’s their collection development policy. I kind of love collection development policies. They have some online exhibits, like a Flickr set of their anarchist collection, their communist party collection, AND, my ultimate favorite: the New York City labor history map, which is a google map that shows addresses and gives a blurb of what happened at that site. You know how much I go crazy for stuff like that. Give me the details! Show me where it happened!

Damn librarians are the coolest.

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