This special History News: Your Turn feature complements the article by Melissa Mannon entitled “Cultural Heritage Collaboration: How Collection Planning and Collaboration Supports the Cultural Heritage Institution and Community Memory” which appears in the Autumn 2010 edition of History News.
The “Documentation Strategy” enables institutions to systematically gather and maintain materials that are vital to the story of civilization. It has been used by some archivists as a tool to support collection planning for the past three decades. Cultural heritage professionals working in museums, libraries, and archives can modify this approach to promote diverse partnerships, professionalism, and focused purpose, while increasing the likelihood of success in documenting cultural heritage.
In this edition of History News: Your Turn:
- Complete Article [PDF] – Cultural Heritage Collaboration: How Collection Planning and Collaboration Supports the Cultural Heritage Institution and Community Memory
- Featured Your Turn contributor: Donna Reiner, Ph.D.
- Related/Additional Resources
- Your Turn – How does your institution work to support the documentary record?
How does your institution work to support the documentary record? Is collaborative collection development across cultural disciplines a good idea for your institution and community? Jump in and share!
The state of Arizona is 15 months away from celebrating its centennial. For whatever reason, the efforts for initiating this celebration have been slow, in part due to the lack of funds, poor economy, disagreements on what should/can be done to celebrate, and an appearance of “who cares?” Nevertheless, those people involved in the protection, preservation, and conservation of the written record of our state’s history have begun a collective effort to capitalize on this historic moment.
A generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services led to a survey of all institutions which house archival materials. While the response to the Arizona Connection to Collections Project survey was low in comparison to the number of institutions known to have archives, it is a worthwhile beginning. Key findings indicated major concerns and town hall meetings held throughout the state allowed individuals to add additional information. Questions at the end fell into several categories: Now what? How can my institution benefit? And how can “we” as members of this archival community reach and serve more members?
The key idea that collaborative collection development and preservation across cultural disciplines is a good idea for our institution, community, and state must be fostered. In that endeavor, the Arizona State Archives has created the AZArchives listserv which is open to all archivists and those with archival responsibilities. (In this state, it may be that over 66% of staff who handle archival collections have had no formal preservation or conservation training, and at least 25% of the work is handled by volunteers.) Thus, this listserv can become an integral part of collaborative collection development and preservation, but only if the information is distributed to the greater Arizona community that it exists.
The next effort as a result of these town hall meetings is to promote the value of our institutional archives and the materials that are still in private homes. Getting the word out to the public to explain the purpose in saving and protecting these materials will be a collaborative effort. The intention is to:
- Form a coalition of existing interested groups
- Develop marketing strategies including the Arizona Humanities Council, the Museum Association of Arizona, the Friends of Arizona Archives, several new state archival interest groups, and the Arizona Preservation Foundation
- Develop a formal plan much like the state historic preservation plan
- Seek new grants to provide educational opportunities
- Seek grants that can be distributed to smaller institutions for preservation/conservation
It is hoped that these collaborative efforts will empower collecting institutions to be better stewards of their archives, but also to inform the public of their worth. I believe that it is a first step that is vital to the survival and protection of our state’s history.
Donna Reiner, PhD
Interim Executive Director at Rosson House-Heritage Square Foundation & Guild, and Commission Member at City of Phoenix Arts & Culture Commission
- IMLS “Connecting to Collections” Initiative and related video
- OCLC – Mobilizing Unique Materials. Part of RLG Partnership.
- Museum, Libraries and Archives Council (UK)
- On the LAM: Library, Archive, and Museum Collections in the Creation and Maintenance of Knowledge Communities [PDF]
- Culture 24 blog – UK History and Heritage
Mannon is author of: Cultural Heritage Collaborators: A Manual for Community Documentation. For information on collaborating to preserve cultural heritage see http://www.archivesinfo.com/culturalcollab.php.
It’s Your Turn
How does your institution work to support the documentary record? Is collaborative collection development across cultural disciplines a good idea for your institution and community? Please share below.