RBMS 2016 Blog


Coming Soon: Plenaries at RBMS 2016

We invite you in this blog to take a sneak peek at the topics our headliners will consider for each plenary for our conference. We hope that you will discover a narrative woven into the three plenaries both with the intent to focus on each topic and also with the goal of inspiring echoes in the coming days’ programming throughout our shared experience at #rbms16. (Don’t forget to tweet if you’re inclined!)

As you make your way to sunny Miami and to the impressive Biltmore, the metaphor of “opening doors” to special collections and archives cannot go unnoticed in such a grand space as the Biltmore Hotel. Not different from many of our physical spaces and all of our distinctive collections, the Biltmore exudes an atmosphere that is hard to ignore: beauty, splendor, history, and legacy. We are delighted to be in such a lovely venue so that we can enjoy the setting as we also understand that throughout the conference we will be examining how we can make our own doors at home open for all to feel invited to enjoy the beauty and splendor, add to the history, and share ownership of the legacy of our historical and cultural collections.

Plenary 1: “Open the Door to a More Diverse and Collaborative Future“ opens our conference with broad discussions about ways our administrations and our scholarly partners engage with and consider our mission. With points that address our collaborative future as partners in making history accessible, Michelle Caswell, Paul Ortiz, and Mark Puente will address the topic from their unique perspectives sharing existing activities and new endeavors they are respectively undertaking that influence and embrace our community. As the opening plenary for a conference whose programming promises to examine the intersection of diversity, technology, service, research, and discovery, the panelists will endeavor to begin setting a shared lexicon that will underscore our days – days filled with discussing, sharing, questioning, and celebrating our professional future. (Moderated by Athena Jackson, Penn State)

Plenary 2: “A Broad and Deep Look at Outreach” examines outreach in special collections that encompasses a diverse range of activities, programs, and goals. Teaching, exhibitions, and digital resources are among the many ways we seek to connect. Our invited speakers will explore questions such as: How can exhibitions be used to connect with local communities? How can interacting with special collections change lives? What can we gain by focusing on exploration more than expertise? Speakers Christoph Irmscher, Pellom McDaniels III, and Sarah Werner will explore these questions and more as they describe the myriad ways special collections and archives can engage and interact with multiple constituencies. (Moderated by Erika Dowell, Indiana University)

Plenary 3: “Collaborating with Diverse Communities” requires an open heart, an open mind, highly trained/skilled archivists and librarians, and an abundance of authenticity. It is clear that Special Collections and Archives bear the responsibility of stewarding the historical record. But who gets invited to participate largely depends on our outreach efforts and our willingness to commit to questioning existing frameworks. Speakers, Maria R. Estorino, Verónica Reyes-Escudero and Christa Williford will explore what it means to engage with a broader range of cultural materials. Cultural relevance is dependent on evidence of materiality and memory. Who gets to bring those together? How we approach inclusivity in archives largely depends on institutional and individual cultural competence. Some funders have an awareness of the importance of inclusivity and look for signs of institutional self-awareness. How can we best prepare ourselves to be successful when seeking funds from funding agencies?

Librarians and archivists have long done the important work of acquiring materials to steward for posterity. How might current thinking and context change the way we engage with the materiality of cultural heritage and the people who have authority over it?

Who gets left behind when authority lies within a few?

(Playing a dual role as invited speaker and moderator, Verónica Reyes-Escudero, University of Arizona)

–Athena Jackson