Ensuring broad and diverse representation in digital archives and collections is crucial. Diversity can involve a number of factors, including diversity of opinion, ability, ethnicity, race, gender, culture, socioeconomic status, religion, language, and sexual orientation. Unless digital archives and collections are able to include materials representing a wide spectrum of human experience, they can only tell partial and incomplete stories. Unfortunately, a number of barriers, such as the cost of, and access to, technology, can limit the scope of digital collections and prevent them from being truly inclusive. Diversity among those creating and maintaining these collections is particularly vital, both for its own sake and in order to avoid perpetuating “blind spots” in the selection of materials for acquisition and digitization projects.
“Difficult Discussions: Diversity in Digital Collections and Archives,” co-sponsored by the Digital Scholarship Section (DSS), the Literatures in English Section (LES), and the European Scholarship Section (ESS) of ACRL will address difficult questions about the causes of under-representation of marginalized groups in digital archives. This will include an examination of the professional attitudes and habits that have historically contributed to a lack of diversity. This program will take the form of a panel discussion with librarians, archivists, scholars and community members who have been chosen because of their work with digital archives, collections, or projects that foreground diverse voices and social justice. Panelists will share topical insights based in their roles as creators, curators, or users of digital content, and in their personal experiences as members of marginalized/non-English language communities themselves. In conversation with each other, the moderator, and the audience, the panelists will identify barriers to inclusivity in digital collections and archives, providing a basis on which participants may begin to formulate successful strategies for mitigating barriers at their own institutions.
Participants will gain an understanding of what diversity in digital collections and archives means, learn about current barriers to diverse representation, and hear about strategies for mitigating those barriers that have been implemented in other digital library and archive projects. The program is aimed at professionals engaging in digital exhibit, digital library, archive and community engaged digital projects; and may be valuable for librarians and archivists who wish to expand representation of marginalized groups in their collections and/or learn more about problems surrounding diversity in digital archives and libraries. Participants will hear from scholars and community members representing marginalized/non-English language communities. Panelists will share their experiences with digital archives, libraries and projects to share with attendees their perspectives and spark questions and discussion among program participants about designing more diverse digital collections. In addition to a question and answer period with the panelists, attendees will be encouraged to share their own experiences with the topic in order to bring other voices into the conversation. Following the program, DSS and LES plan to offer collectively-composed program notes to be shared widely, in order to continue the discussion among interested panelists, participants, and individuals who are interested in these issues but unable to attend the program. We will also invite participants and panelists to join an ad-hoc working group to create a set of guidelines, recommendations, or a white paper to address issues of diversity in digital collections moving forward.
ALA Unit/Subunit: ACRL,ACRL_DSS,ACRL_LES
Meeting Type: Program
Cost: Included with full conference registration.