Last week I was in Wilmington for the annual Society of North Carolina Archivists conference. I started the conference off with a workshop focused on managing backlogs, “How to Tame Your Dragon: Learning to Befriend your Backlog through Efficient Processing”, with Kelly Spring from ECU. The workshop consisted of activities that were components of an efficient but scalable workflow for managing a backlog of any size. Although the proposed workflow pretty much mirrored the current processing plan in place for archives at ZSR I definitely left with a better understanding of backlog management. An efficient and thorough process does not come overnight, but should be iterative and understandable for anyone at any stage of a workflow in addition to appropriate appraisal of materials in the backlog before processing. Finally, brainstorming and share-outs introduced me to new documentation and assessment tools such as Google Keep and the Preservation Self-Assessment Program.
The conference theme this year centered on interdisciplinary and interprofessional collaboration which afforded me insight into current approaches local archivists are taking towards working among themselves and with external departments or community groups. There were several great sessions that covered the experiences of university archives working on collaborative teaching projects with academic departments. One such effort was presented by Anna Peitzman and Colin Reeve of UNC-Asheville. Peitzman and Reeve worked with faculty for a class that used records from Asheville’s Housing Authority so that students could observe and record the impact of urban renewal on the city. The project involved two introductory lessons, but was structured in a way that it spanned several weeks so students utilised the archives throughout most of the semester for the duration of the assignment.
I also really enjoyed a poster presented by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Caitlin Rivas that covered the roles of archivists in managing confederate monuments. The poster covered the experiences of different academic institutions and what archivists have been doing to reconstruct the context of such controversial objects by taking actions such as not removing graffiti from statues that were not entirely destroyed or discarded. By offering additional perspectives on contentious topics and objects, I think this approach aligns well with the goals of transparency that have been developing across the profession.