Wisdom from afar

Yetzirah said, in response to my anxieties about the community archiving course, “All you have to do is ask a few questions and let people talk. They will. You learn. Win win!”  And she was absolutely right.  I spent the first couple of hours just listening, then I started asking questions, and was rewarded with some really exciting ideas and new ways of thinking about what we’re doing, and (most importantly) some great practical advice.  About half the people in the class yesterday were proper professional archivists types, and the other half were in a similar situation to me – suddenly in the position of running an archive and very much having to learn on the job.  And that made for a really good mix for the class, because there were so many different experiences and points of view.  And, as the lecturer pointed out, sometimes it’s actually an advantage not having a traditional archiving background, because it means we’re more likely to think outside the box, and be open to things that “proper” archivists maybe wouldn’t, which is really important when you’re dealing with community archives, where the emotional value of material, and the stories tied up with it, is often more important than traditional archival criteria.
So, yeah, it was a really valuable day, and definitely worth going.  A long day though – I was up before 5 am to catch the plane, spent the whole day in the class (including lunch – we had a “working lunch” while we workshopped various problems), then raced back to the airport just in time to catch the plane home again (which ended up being delayed anyway, so my panic to get there on time was needless!), and finally got home about 7.30 pm.  And then was so buzzing with all the cool stuff I wanted to get down on paper so that I’d be able to tell the team about them today that I couldn’t sleep… so I’m very very tired today!

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