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Poster: Are Archivists Essential Workers? Documenting the Effects of COVID-19 on Funded Archival Institutions

July 11, 2022 @ 11:00 pm UTC+0


Humanities organizations continue to seek support after the start of the global pandemic. In reflecting on the year 2020, the only way to tell the stories of America’s Archives is through communicating with the Archivists themselves. The American Library Association (ALA) spotlight the resilience, determination, and innovations of library workers in unprecedented circumstances. Their publication The State of American Libraries: Special Report: Covid-19 provides a closer look at the vitality our libraries provide to our nation, our people, and community. Librarians were quickly reassigned and went from disseminating information to becoming our community’s “second responders.” Can this be said about Archivists working in repositories? Preservation institutions? What happened to collections and services?

Lyrasis, a non-profit organization serving and supporting libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural centers, shared a Pandemic-Survey conducted in the fall of 2020, documenting what it was like to collect archival materials during this time. The survey highlights those archives closed for months without environmental monitoring by staff. Archival consultants believed that disaster response assistance with pests, mold, and water leaks may be needed once buildings were reopened. Other archives, however, were granted limited access by non-archival staff. This included facilities and other staff permitted to work on-site in 4% of responses, while 21% of archives surveyed identified library administration or department heads having access to collections (p.10).

According to the Lyraris survey (2020), despite many institutions surveyed not having consistent access to their archives, 49% decided to continue collecting physical materials. One aspect the survey did not cover is what happened to the archives that remained closed and were not able to reopen. Who decided that these institutions should close? What happened to jobs and most importantly what happened to the collections? This study aims to answer these questions by using the SAA (Society of American Archivists) core values:

  1. Acquire
  2. Identify and preserve
  3. Access and use (digital & physical)
  4. Service to community (DEI)
  5. Advocacy.

Presenter Bio

Anastasia Weigle, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, University of Maine Augusta

Vanessa Reyes, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Instruction, University of South Florida


This poster will be uploaded and made available on AERI YouTube.

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July 11, 2022
11:00 pm UTC+0
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Zoom details will be provided


Joanne Evans