Faculty & Staff Presentations

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Archival Science | Library and Information Science


Academic libraries are increasingly engaged in establishing community-based archives programs, often with digital preservation, delivery, and exhibit components. Often these activities are in response to local communities' needs to document valuable and vulnerable cultural heritage materials, fueled by the understanding that community partnerships create mutually beneficial opportunities for the academic institution, students, and staff. From a practical standpoint, institutions need to be able to identify potential points of synergy and challenge when working with both internal and external communities on collaborative digital projects; however, this can be difficult for institutions that are new to this kind of collaboration. Understanding the differing priorities of academic institutions and community archives and organizations, as well as their respective cultural contexts, is critical for successful collaboration.

In this panel, representatives from three institutions (a small private college, a small private university, and a large public university) presented academic community-based digital projects as case studies to contextualize discussion of how to engage and develop community relationships and archives programs within an academic setting. Panelists explored the challenges of sustainability and management of expectations in community-based digital projects, including project process and management, digitization and technology needs, meeting research needs, and unexpected demands on both the community and the academic institution during and after the launch of community-based archives programs. In addition, panelists described tangible results of digital archival projects, including curriculum development, expanded partnerships, and increased “brand awareness” of the academic institution and community partners.

The panelists demonstrated that size and resource base do not dictate the issues that are likely to emerge for institutions when they initiate a community-based project. By emphasizing a philosophy of strategic collaboration, as well as emerging theories of participatory community archives, the panelists offered attendees a chance to learn about the rewards and challenges of collaboration when creating novel approaches to expose unique collections. Panelists also emphasized ways to incorporate experiential learning for students and community members, including engagement in faculty/student collaborative research, work study/internship opportunities, and lifelong learning for community partners. Finally, the panelists provided insight into identifying potential partnerships at academic institutions and in local communities, including strategies for identifying and securing grants and other funding, both for launching and for sustaining community partnership projects.


This presentation was given at the Association of College & Research Libraries' Bi-Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon.



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