Society of Southwest Archivists

Transformative Approaches to Ethical Description: A Workshop on Handling Sensitive Materials in Archival and Digital Collections

  • 30 Apr 2024
  • 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Zoom
  • 0


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Title:  Transformative Approaches to Ethical Description: A Workshop on Handling Sensitive Materials in Archival and Digital Collections

Presenters: Stephanie M. Luke, Assistant Professor and Metadata Librarian, University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne 

Presenter Bio: Stephanie M. Luke (she/her) is Assistant Professor-Metadata Librarian at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and current Reviews Co-Editor for American Archivist. She received an MA in English and an MLS with a specialization in rare books and manuscripts librarianship, both from Indiana University-Bloomington. Her research interests include reparative description, inclusive metadata, and the ethics of access and description. She has been invited to present on these topics by the Society of American Archivists (SAA), the Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA), the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA), and the Visual Resources Association Foundation (VRAF).

Date: Tuesday, April 30th, 2024 

Time: 12 PM - 4 PM Central Time

Location: Virtual (Zoom)

Description: In recent years, there has been an increased interest in how the archival profession can remediate harmful language and inform users of sensitive content in their collections. While many archivists agree that there is a need for this work, insufficient guidelines, practical tools, and real-world examples can render the work daunting and its implementation particularly challenging. In this workshop, we will explore various approaches to the thoughtful remediation of sensitive materials, both in archival and digital collections. We then examine materials from libraries and archives and discuss how archivists might apply these approaches to make materials more representative, equitable, and inclusive. This half-day workshop will provide an overview of the concepts of reparative description, conscious editing, and responsible curation. The target audience is archivists who process collections or work with the description of archival collections, both physical and digital. The learning objectives are: 1) to understand the purpose and importance of reparative description, 2) to discuss the challenges to implementing reparative description in institutions, 3) to learn approaches to remediating legacy descriptions in finding aids and digital object records, and 4) to thoughtfully apply these approaches to examples of problematic description. This workshop is highly interactive and allows archivists to work with descriptions of digital materials and finding aids. It includes real-world examples of digital object records and finding aids and asks participants to apply strategies of reparative description to make these more representative and inclusive. It employs break-out rooms to allow participants to discuss examples and work together to propose ways to remediate problematic description. The workshop includes time to discuss challenges participants have encountered at their institutions as well as discussion sections for participants to share their experiences with others who are active in this work.

Note:  Registration is limited to 50 participants to allow active participation. This workshop will not be recorded to allow participants to be open, honest, and comfortable in sharing their experiences. 

Duration Length:  Four hours 

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