Participatory Archiving Director’s Brief

Participatory Director’s Brief Link

This project really was transformative for me.  The subject felt powerful but also incredibly sad.  I think like many, I’m feeling incredibly vulnerable and unsettled these days, but reading these stories and seeing how marginalized societies and traumatized countries are working to find empowerment through their sorrows really expanded my perspective.

So often in my public library setting my perspective can be so micro-focused.  I happen to work in a very different library compared to the rest of the district and the rest of Denver.  My library caters to a niche population of Russian-Americans and new immigrants.  A lot of my work focuses specifically on serving the needs of such a specific community.  I tend to filter everything I learn, both in school and work, through the lens of “will that apply to the needs of my community?”.  This project allowed me to think more globally, recognizing that while a lot of the trendy local ideas don’t always make sense for the needs of my community, it’s worthwhile to look further and see what’s on the horizon internationally.

Specifically, participatory archiving feels like a new wave we should all be considering.  So much of 2020 has been focused on systems that do not work for everyone and that are fundamentally flawed.  It was really powerful to think through a complete realignment of a system and how it could lead to not only a better outcome but have tangible effects on the community in the process.


Focused Professional Development

For my CYOA I opted for Professional Development.  Since I joined the library world and started my MLIS I have been overwhelmed by the amount of PD available.  Every day my email fills with new information on classes, webinars, articles, etc.  I cannot be the only one that on most days just clears it all out like junk mail.  It is not junk mail though, there is a gem in there somewhere for me, the time-consuming part is finding it.  With this in mind, I really appreciated the 23 Things Challenge.  Who doesn’t love a good numbered challenge, honestly?  But practically this approach made sense.  It laid out a clear plan for developing your technological skills.  To me it felt like “license to play”, an opportunity or challenge to go and explore a technology you haven’t had the chance to work with yet but that could open up new ideas once you explore it.

This challenge was clearly successful in the early 2000s (Stephens & Cheetham 2012).  Stephens and Cheetham (2012) find that this PD experience for the Australian public libraries translated to a transformative learning experience because it had the effect of changing habitual expectations in the students.  This was clearly seen in how the library staff felt more comfortable with emerging technologies, both the ones they were presented within the Challenge but also in other ones that arose through work or patron experiences.

Here we are in 2020, and PD has been completely upended this year (I am really getting tired of the trite statement, but it’s true).  No conferences, an abundance of webinars from all over the place popping up, and more time than ever to fill them.  My library just closed to the public again and many of us will need to fill 10-15 hours a week with some form of PD.  This can be daunting.  When time used to be such a crunch to fit in an hour webinar during a shift, now we are faced we ongoing hours of webinars that too often feel unrelated to the situations we are in.

I was not in the library world in 2009 when this trend of the 23 Things Challenge was popular, but I think now would be a great time to revise and relaunch it.  A guided practice would help make the weeks go by and relieve us from hours upon hours of webinars.  At the end of this experience of quarantining and social distancing, I think many of us want something to be proud of for how we spent that extra time.  A challenge would do just that for us.  I intend to submit this to our idea bank in hopes that we can organize something as a district, but if nothing more, I am happy to have had the opportunity to review this work as I plan for how to spend my 7-week winter break at home.


Stephens, M., & Cheetham, W. (2012). The impact and effect of Learning 2.0 programs in Australian public libraries. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice7(1), 53-64.