Saturday, August 30, 2008

SAA Stream of Consciousness

I will be writing about my experiences at SAA and I'll begin with a list of scribbled notes I kept while attending sessions and meetings for the past three days.

Issues of ownership, consultation, mutual understanding and respect
Different ways of knowing, understanding, doing, and remembering.
Resilience and flexibility.
Archives are sites of power where archivists make decisions shaped by political and social factors
Different conceptual terms with different meanings/context, authentic, authority
Archives are inert; nothing happens until someone weaves it into a story; the telling is different from what happened.
Absences in the archives have an effect
Meanings can be impeded or concealed
Archives are arranged to frame different questions; to ask, reveal, conceal and obscure.
Archival records are produced from culturally embedded assumptions.
Purposes of archives/document and protect cultural heritage, protect legal rights, essential evidence
Archives are alien and mysterious to most
Relationship between documents and social memory
Archives are sites of power relationships in society
We rely on the integrity of archives
Privileged groups can control societal memory by manipulating archives
Archives are not about the past; they are about the future.
How do we pluralize and make definition of records inclusive?
Words like custody and holdings imply possession; try guardianship and stewardship
Describe yourself in a way that is useful to me so that I can understand it.
Job postings focus on digital skills and cultural understanding; latter is not valued
“I am the caretaker of the old words”
Access—retrieve information passed on orally
Archives organized by season of the year
Archival programs related to political change/example: end of colonization
Consultation= collaboration.
Culture= carrying a message from the creator
Construct, act, and listen
Look at it from a moral, not just legal, perspective
Protocols are not demands; they are an invitation
How can we resolve spiritual concerns in Protocols with separation of state and religion?
How can we resolve concerns about how material objects are viewed? Artifacts should be allowed to die a natural death/preservation.
If it’s afternoon you can’t listen to a morning song or then it would be an afternoon song; come back tomorrow morning.
Gaps and silences are just as important as records
Respectful subject headings
Information about creation of documents necessary to provide context
Demystify special collections/consider multiple perspectives
Who has the authority to speak for the community?
In Western law intellectual rights are for individual, not community

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Near Union Square

There isn't much going on with the conference today (although I did run into Mary Jo Pugh in the hotel lobby and spoke to her for a few moments),so I was out and about exploring today. One place I visited was Britex Fabrics. It is four stories (!) of fabrics of all kinds--cottons, wools, silks, brocades, lace-- trims, ribbons, accessories as well as a collection of over 30,000 different buttons.

There were a number of art galleries. My favorite was the Weinstein Gallery which features the work of Marc Chagall. How thrilling to think that someone, if they had enough money, could actually buy one of these works and have it in their home!

I was very disappointed to learn that the downtown location of Kozo Arts is closed. They offer handmade papers from Japan as well as handmade journals and albums made by San Francisco bookbinders.

I did, however, walk by an antique store which had a window full of intricately carved ivory Japanese figures. I also enjoyed street musicians and singers, listening to people speaking (and some arguing) in languages I didn't recognize, and the chaos of the crowded streets with tourists (like me!) stopping to take photographs, locals walking quickly as they smoked their cigarettes, police walking, in cars, and on bikes, panhandlers asking for change, a few people who seemed as though they might be both homeless and mentally ill, women beautifully and elegantly dressed in high heels and construction workers who took the time to look at them appreciatively.

See more of my photos on flikr.

San Francisco

I arrived in San Francisco for the Society of American Archivists Conference yesterday afternoon. The one thing I didn't like was flying over the Bay before we landed. There's water and then there's the runway. I wish I hadn't looked and kept mentally reviewing what to do in case of a water landing, but, of course, there were no problems and we landed safely.

I am staying at the conference hotel, the San Francisco Hilton, only a few blocks from Union Square. I spent a little time time sitting in the lobby yesterday afternoon, people watching. The concierge provided me with a nice list of restaurants within walking distance and I had a wonderful dinner of red snapper and rice at Cafe Mason only a block and-a-half away.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Comic Books--A Small Rant

My brother cut his reading teeth on comic books Until he was ten, his entire allowance was spent on comic books. Among them were The Flash, Archie, Batman, Superman, Scrooge McDuck, the Disney family, and the Loony Tune gang. As soon as he got his allowance he would buy that week's quota of comic books, run home and plop down in the middle of the living room floor and read them all afternoon, entering a
hypnotic trance that closed off the real world. He'd hardly move a muscle except to turn the pages and reach for the next comic book. There were times my mother would be tempted to put a mirror to his mouth to make sure he was still alive.

He would spend the rest of the week rereading his new comics as well as those from previous weeks that still survived, longing for the next Thursday and his next allowance. He was mesmerized by the pictures; they led his captured eyes and mind to the words in the white verbal clouds that drifted around the characters' mouths.

He read his comic books on the living room rug, stomach down, chin resting on his cupped palms, balanced on his elbows. He read them on his bed, at times on his back
holding them high above him and at other times draped draped over a pillow. He read about his champions while eating his breakfast of champions. He hid them away and
read them secretively at school and lost a few that were discovered. He rolled them in his back pocket and took them with him wherever he went. He read them by the beam of a flashlight hidden under the covers way past his bedtime.

The covers fell off and, despite liberal applications of scotch tape, pages loosened themselves from their stapled anchors and soon disappeared. Remaining pages got torn. He read and reread them until they fell apart in his hands or were nothing but torn tatters.

Adults would sometimes scold him for reading comics. They called them trash. They ought to have encouraged him. Comics opened my brother's world and mind to other worlds and created an appetite to read. Soon he graduated to the Hardy Boys, and then Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and Jack London.

I believe that children do need to read great works. Eventually. But first, get them to read! Get them to love reading. Read anything. I don't care what they read. It
can be non-fiction or westerns or ghost stories. It can be Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss or the sports section. I don't care. I just want them to read.

The only problem is how to get them started. A lot of people will argue that to do that isn't that simple. It IS that simple! Blitz them! Blitz them early and get
reading materials, any reading materials into their hands. They'll want to read about the things that matter the most to them and then they'll be readers for life. THAT is the way to make readers!