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2021 New York Archives Week Symposium

  • Wednesday, October 20, 2021
  • 12:30 PM
  • Thursday, October 21, 2021
  • 5:00 PM
  • Online


Registration is closed

The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York is pleased to announce the full schedule for the annual New York Archives Week Symposium, which will take place online on Wednesday, October 20th and Thursday, October 21st, 2021. 

This year’s New York Archives Week Symposium theme is RESILIENCE, to acknowledge our struggles, celebrate our successes, and explore how we can continue to move forward. The last 18 months have foregrounded challenges and produced changes in our professional and personal lives that have left us exhausted and burned out. At the same time, we have met these difficulties head on, employing creative strategies to reimagine our work and support one another. This symposium aims to hold space for both realities.

Admission is free and open to all. Advance registration is required. Live captioning will be provided throughout the day. Please feel free to contact the organizers at communications@nycarchivists.org if you have any other accessibility needs. 


12:30 – 12:45 PM Opening Remarks & Land Acknowledgment

Danielle Nista, Director of Education, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York

12:45 – 2:00 PM Keynote: "Resilience in the Archives: Digitizing Local History During a Pandemic"

Gregory Hunter, Professor of Library and Information Science, Long Island University; Director, Certificate of Advanced Studies in Archives and Records Management, Long Island University

According to the Mayo Clinic, resilience is “the ability to adapt to difficult situations.” This certainly applies to the last two years! In fact, resilience may be the new essential archival skill. In this keynote address, Gregory S. Hunter, a Professor in the Palmer School of Library and Information Science at Long Island University, will reflect on resilience as an archival imperative. Drawing from a 40-year professional career, he will discuss the challenges archivists face in difficult situations. In particular, he will illustrate “the ability to adapt” in directing a $1.5 million project to digitize local history materials. He will reflect on what worked well during the pandemic—and what didn’t work so well—and offer suggestions for being ready for the next difficult archival situation.

2:00 - 2:15 PM Break

2:15 - 3:30 PM Starting a New Position Remotely: Lessons Learned by Early Career Archivists in a Pandemic

Helena Egbert, Processing Archivist, Kansas State University Libraries

Marissa Friedman, Digital Project Archivist, University of California, Berkeley

Lourdes Johnson, Program Support Assistant, Hispanic Division, Library of Congress
Renae Rapp, Scholarly Communications Librarian and Archivist, SUNY Maritime College

This lightning talk amongst new archivists who were hired just before and during the pandemic will focus on questions surrounding the struggles with remote work in a profession that has traditionally not lent itself to virtual work. Individuals starting new jobs as archives workers already face the stresses of a new position and moving; what other burdens are added during a pandemic? Panelists will discuss the challenges of working without institutional context to begin their roles, and how these roles change when there is no "normal.” Session panelists, working in large and small academic institutions, will discuss their struggles and how they have succeeded, as well as concerns about the transition back to what was “normal” for their colleagues but what will be new for them.

This session invites the diverse perspectives of other new hires and supervisors hiring under these circumstances by providing a space for discussion.

3:30 - 3:45 PM Break

3:45 - 5:00 PM The Evolution of Archiving American Social Movements

Laura Vroom, Graduate Student, Pratt Institute

The archivists who have worked to preserve material from social movements have had to be flexible, constantly reassessing their methods to keep up with societal and cultural changes, digital developments, and ethical standards.

This presentation highlights the resilience of archivists as they have evolved their methods while still representing key criteria of social movements in their collections. Starting with the pre-digital era and moving through to today’s complex digital environment, we will track the evolution of archiving social movements in the United States, ending with emerging tools and practices.


12:30 - 12:45 PM Opening Remarks & Land Acknowledgment

Nicholas Martin, President, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York

Danielle Nista, Director of Education, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York

12:45 - 2:00 PM Keynote: "15 Year Efforts on Revamping MOCA Collections and Research Center"

Yue Ma, Director for Collections and Research, Museum of Chinese in America

Yue Ma is the Director of Collections and Research at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA). She will talk about her work at the museum over the past fifteen years, and the challenges she has faced as well as the progress she has made in making MOCA’s collection more visible and accessible. Begins in 2006, Yue was hired to manage MOCA’s collection, which was at that time hard to access for both staff and the public. Three years later MOCA created the Collections and Research Center at 70 Mulberry Street to better care for the collections and open research to the public. More recently, the Collections and Research Center was severely damaged in a devastating fire in 2019. The challenges were further compounded with the emergence of COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions imposed on in-person work. In addition, widespread Asian hate and racism surged research requests relating to items in MOCA’s collection. Yue will discuss the difficulties in handling this newly-rekindled interest in MOCA’s collection while also managing fire recovery and an extensive survey of the collection to determine treatments needed for individual objects in MOCA’s newly opened Collections and Research Center at 3 Howard Street titled MOCA Workshop.

2:00 - 2:15 PM Break 

2:15 - 3:15 PM Dancorcism with Jen Neal

Jen Neal, Archivist and Dancorcism Healer and Teacher 

Founded in 2012 by Debbie Attias, Dancorcism is an inclusive celebration of life, a system of healing, and a practice of living in love. It's a healing dance party that moves energy through the body, sending love and joy to the world. Join Jen Neal for some office friendly, mindful movement as we let go of the exhaustion and burnout, and celebrate our resiliency while calling in positive energy as we look to the future.

3:30 - 3:45 PM Break

3:45 - 5:00 PM Fragmented-Body / Fragmented Archive

April Griess is an artist and archivist who studied Moving Image Archiving and Preservation at New York University (class of 2021).

A body, like an archive, has the potential to overwrite the dominant narrative by giving people access to ideas and information suppressed by the status quo. Performance artists must look beyond the institution’s wall to consider the act of archiving performance art as part of a concerted D.I.Y. / D.I.T. (do it yourself / together) effort. As we break from the institution’s business agenda, we can create fragmented community archives where something much more compassionate can form. When we talk about archiving, we are talking about carrying out the act of care to preserve archival materials. #capitalismdoesnotcare

Not all archives have equal resources to maintain their collection(s) so ask yourself:

  • What purpose does the archive serve? Who are the primary benefactors?

  • How is “value” established, and how are the materials used?

  • Who is granted access? At what cost?

    A fragmented archive is not incomplete. Fragmentation allows for a complex set of numerous entangled connections, and each fragment can play a minor part in a larger whole. How can we collectively dismantle institutional enrichment through labor extraction and exploitation? #cancelstudentdebt There is power in being in charge of your narrative, so do not give that up lightly.

    Questions? communications@nycarchivists.org

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