the amiable archivists' salon: a sounding of interest

Before writing “once upon a listserv” I spoke to a handful of women who had experienced similar dynamics, on Archives & Archivists or elsewhere. Since that post went live (and to-date has been viewed over 3.5k times) I have had a number of other individuals contact me in thanks -- and to ask what we might do next to effect change.

There is concern within library and archivist circles about our professional culture(s), about generational tensions, about how to talk about the abysmal job market -- and the resulting wild inequality between those with the power to hire and those seeking employment. There’s concern that the conversations we have about what constitutes professionalism -- about what we should expect of our colleagues -- are tangled up with issues of social inequality: age, class, gender, race, sex/sexuality, ableism, body size (etc. etc. etc.). And concern that despite their importance we seem unable to actually speak about those issues in meaningful ways as a larger community. In addition to the ample evidence on the A&A listserv that some within the profession believe harassment and bullying aren’t “real” or “important” concerns, similar sentiments can be seen cropping up in relation to the draft of SAA’s code of conduct now open for comment.

I’m not okay with that. I came to this profession with a commitment (it’s kinda right there in the blogging persona) to doing my part toward centering marginalized voices, to examining and challenging structural and interpersonal inequality, to building a profession in which I -- and the wild diversity of humanity -- could be welcomed and effective in all our individual glory.

I’ve been told, indirectly, that SAA is examining the question of A&A moderation as an organization. However, as a librarian-archivist who is not a member of SAA, I am unwilling to leave this conversation solely in their hands. The issues -- and the profession -- are bigger than SAA or A&A. I also believe that both “insider” and “outsider” change is required for the margins to make their way toward a more inclusive center.

Therefore, I am offering to host a space for these conversations. The exact nature of the space will be determined by the participants, but it will be a moderated, confidential space in which ground rules are articulated and enforced as agreed upon by the group. It will be a space in which, together, we can develop strategies for intervention and mutual support, share resources, and potentially take collective action for change within the broader professional community.

This Amiable Archivists’ Salon (“tea time or teach-in … you decide!”), if you will, would be an independent project not affiliated with my employer or any professional organizations. It would be a collaborative mutual aid and study group, not a support group offering trained legal, therapeutic, or other types of formal social services.

If you are interested in participating in these discussions, please fill out this brief ten-question survey to let me know who you are, what issues you want to see addressed, and what your goals for the group would be. If I receive six or more responses by July 1st I will contact the interested participants by email and together we can decide next steps. If there is not enough interest to move forward collaboratively, I will let respondents know that the time doesn’t seem ripe for further action.

Feel free to get in touch via email (feministlibrarian [at] gmail [dot] com) if you have questions or comments that you would like to share but aren’t sure about participation in an ongoing group.

I look forward to continuing this conversation.

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