Houston Archives Bazaar 2019

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Vince Lee

This post was authored by guest contributor Vince Lee, Archivist at the University of Houston, and current member of SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness (COPA).

The second biennial Houston Archives Bazaar was hosted at the White Oak Music Hall on November 14, 2019. Over 22 organizations representing local, regional, and state institutions participated in the Bazaar: 

 

Sandwich sign with graphic on top three quarters of sign than text below that says "It's Free! Sunday, Nov. 17, 201- - 10 a.m. – 2.pm. Houston Archives Bazaar"

Houston Archives Bazaar Poster directing visitors to the event (Photo Courtesy of Vince Lee)

Exterior view of building on street corner, partial text of building name shown.

White Oak Music Hall-site of the Houston Archives Bazaar (Photo courtesy of Vince Lee)

Visitors and attendees to the Bazaar were greeted at the door where they would sign in, fill out a name tag, and get their passports from the registration table. From there visitors were encouraged to visit as many tables within the Bazaar and take part in activities. They would present their passports at each table where they would be stamped. At the end of touring the Bazaar visitors take their stamped passports to get free swag such as a Houston Archives Bazaar (HAB) tote bags, pencils, pins, and other ephemera.  No self respecting visitor or archivist attending a Bazaar would want to leave empty handed, and as archivists we all love free stuff!

Person with hair in bun with glasses standing behind table with purple table cloth with name tags, folders, booklets, and next to sign that says "Claim Prizes & HAB Swag Here!" Adjacent table with purple table cloth and 4 people standing behind it on right.

Registration Table for the Houston Archives Bazaar (photo courtesy of Vince Lee)

What sorts of visitors can you expect to find at an Archives Bazaar? From my own personal experience of visitors at our table (University of Houston Special Collections), I ran across genealogists looking for additional resources to track down family history, students at area colleges and universities looking for potential research projects,  high school teachers and administrators seeking potential topics and primary source materials for research for their students as well as seeking potential collaborations with area repositories for field trips and tours. There were heavy users of archives such as researchers looking for news-clippings and audio-visual clips to bolster their research, advocates of archives from the Houston community such as artists, historians, and donors looking to find a home for their materials.

In short there were a wide variety of folks that came out to visit the Houston Archives Bazaar for a variety of reasons and interests. The Houston Archives Bazaar truly was a gathering place of activity that reflected the different constituencies that archives and archivists serve each and every day. As if that wasn’t enough it was a free event  and open to the public!

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Display materials representing the various collecting areas of the University of Houston Libraries-Special Collection (Photo Courtesy of Vince Lee)

In addition to the tables which showcased collection materials of each of the participating repositories, attendees had an opportunity to contribute to a time capsule-they could write a short note or letter to themselves in the future, deposit an item or artifact, and doodle or draw something to someone in the future. There was also an oral history booth that did short 15-minute recordings for attendees wishing  to contribute their memories and stories of Houston — whether it was growing up in Houston, going to school here, or a memory of a neighborhood or area and how Houston has changed.

People standing around sign that says "Oral History Storytelling" and table with clipboards on it.

Oral History Storytelling Booth (Photo courtesy of Vince Lee)

Close up of brown box with sticky note with "Time Capsule" written on it, sitting on table with purple table cloth.

Time Capsule for deposited materials (Photo courtesy of Vince Lee)

Two people sitting behind table with purple table cloth with standing sign that says "Houston Time Capsule" standing to the left, person in front of table sitting and engaging.

Houston Time Capsule Booth (Photo Courtesy of Vince Lee)

The 2019 Houston Archives Bazaar for me represented a unique opportunity in which archives and archivists come together not only in engaging with the public with our material holdings and explain what we do as archivists, but it is also an opportunity to take stock of the existing relationships we have with one another as institutions and fellow archivists, not to mention the potential new relationships forged through  the community we serve. That’s something we all can be thankful for this holiday season. 

Have some interesting archival or special collections outreach event or highlights you’d like us to share?  Email us at archivesaware@archivists.org !

Responses & Retrospectives: Not Just Your Problem: Metadata Shame, Imposter Syndrome, and Archivists by Jodi Allison-Bunnell,

Photo of Jodi Allison-Bunnell. Color.

Jodi Allison-Bunnell (courtesy of Jodi Allison-Bunnell).

This is the latest post in our series Responses and Retrospectives, which features archivists’ personal responses and perspectives concerning current or historical events/subjects with significant implications for the archives profession. Interested in contributing to Responses and Retrospectives?  Please email the editor at archivesaware@archivists.org with your ideas!

It usually happens during the tour of the stacks: As we stand among the grey boxes, in a dark corner, a colleague will lean toward me and confess, sotto voce, that their metadata—accession records, finding aids, donor records, or digital collections—is really a mess. Their eyes are downcast with shame at the gap between the standards that they know and what they actually have. They are certain that they are the only individual or institution with this problem.

But what I know—and am always truly delighted to tell them—is that they are not at all alone. Twenty-three years of work in large and small institutions, a regional consortium, and as a consultant has shown me that everyone has ugly metadata. Everyone carries shame about it. And it doesn’t need to be that way.

Last spring, at the annual meeting of Northwest Archivists in Bozeman, Montana, I co-presented a panel with fellow consultants Rachael Woody and Maija Andersen to predict the future of archives in 2020 (http://northwestarchivists.org/resources/Documents/NWA%202019%20Program.pdf). During that panel, we discussed a number of important themes, including salaries in the archival profession (Rachael’s passion!) and the continued certainty of constrained resources. I used the framework of “The good, the bad, and the ugly” to predict that a year from now, your metadata will still be ugly. And there’s no shame in that.

Metadata shame is part of a larger phenomenon: imposter syndrome. First identified in 1978 by Dr. Pauline Rose Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes, it’s when an individual believes they have insufficient skills, intellect, and experience for a given task or environment, usually professional, despite objective evidence to the contrary. (Clance, Pauline R.; Imes, Suzanne A. (Fall 1978). “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention” (PDF). Psychotherapy Theory, Research and Practice. 15 (3): 241–247).  Although Clance and Imes’ initial paper was focused on high-achieving women, the term has since been applied to all genders of highly intelligent, qualified, and achieving people who suffer this crushing self-doubt.

The Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale, a non-diagnostic self-assessment, asks a respondent to indicate degree of agreement or disagreement with statements that include: “I can give the impression that I’m more competent than I really am,” “I’m afraid people important to me may find out that I’m not as capable as they think I am,” “I rarely do a project or task as well as I’d like to do it,” and “Sometimes I’m afraid others will discover how much knowledge or ability I really lack.” (https://paulineroseclance.com/pdf/IPTestandscoring.pdf, accessed 2019 Oct 11. From The Impostor Phenomenon: When Success Makes You Feel Like A Fake (pp. 20-22), by P.R. Clance, 1985, Toronto: Bantam Books. Copyright 1985 by Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D., ABPP.)

Clearly, there are many archivists who would agree with many of those statements. At the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists last August, Session 701, “My Comeback Story: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in the Archives Profession” drew hundreds of attendees that overfilled the largest room in the conference facility. The presenters shared their stories of struggling with imposter syndrome and how they have transformed that experience into positive outcomes. Some of their experiences were related to race, education, or the specific dynamics of their institution. But Drew Davis of the College of American Pathologists gave examples that are universal: We have so much to do and so much to know, and one response to that reality is shame. We compare ourself to other professionals and are certain that they are more successful. Davis ultimately found that he is naturally competitive. Instead of fighting that tendency, he turns his comparison with others into an opportunity to be inspired, motivated—and successful

His response is the map for all of us: rather than letting shame overcome us, we can put that energy toward action. When I was building a Digital Public Library of America hub at the Orbis Cascade Alliance, we confronted the challenge of half a million digital object records that had been created before the consortium had Dublin Core best practices. A few core fields needed remediation before the content could be aggregated efficiently at the regional and national level. As part of a series of workshops I developed with consultant Anneliese Dehner and Julia Simic (Assistant Head, Digital Scholarship Services, University of Oregon), we inserted humor and cultivated the concert of the “metadata shame-free zone.” We wanted to create an atmosphere that inspired action, bolstered skills, and created clear priorities for metadata cleanup. And we delivered the results we needed: 100,000 digital objects cleaned up, aggregated, and ready for DPLA.

So let’s come out of that dark corner of the stacks, openly reveal our challenges to colleagues, and support one another in developing solutions. Let’s share our comeback stories to make the profession better for all of us. No more metadata shame. And no more imposters.

This post was written by Jodi Allison-Bunnell. Jodi Allison-Bunnell has twenty-three years of experience leading and participating in collaborations to increase access to unique content in archives, libraries, and museums by using shared systems and standards. She is the owner and principal consultant at AB Consulting (http://consulting.allison-bunnell.net). She was the program manager for Unique and Local Content at the Orbis Cascade Alliance until 2018; prior positions include project manager for Northwest Digital Archives and archivist at the University of Montana. She holds an MA and an MLS from University of Maryland at College Park and a BA summa cum laude from Whitman College.

The opinions and assertions stated within this piece are the author’s alone, and do not represent the official stance of the Society of American Archivists. COPA publishes response posts with the sole aim of providing additional perspectives, context, and information on current events and subjects that directly impact archives and archivists.