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Item Not Found: Accounting for Loss in Libraries, Archives, and Other Heritage and Memory Organizations
Wednesday, March 8 & Thursday March 9, 2023
This is a two day conference
–A Virtual Conference organized by Anna Chen (Clark Library, UCLA), Rebecca Fenning Marschall (Clark Library, UCLA), Molly McGuire (Oakland University Libraries), Nina Schneider (Clark Library, UCLA), and Emily Spunaugle (Oakland University Libraries)
This event is free of charge, but you must register to attend in advance. All audience members will receive instructions via email after registration. Visit our website to register directly with Zoom.
Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty, Director, Smithsonian Libraries and Archives
T-Kay Sangwand, Librarian for Digital Collection Development, UCLA
Gabriel Solís, Executive Director, Texas After Violence Project
This virtual conference considers the ongoing reassessment of memory and heritage work and heritage ownership, as it is understood by libraries, archives and related organizations, through an examination of the multiple meanings, complexities, and resonances of loss. As an inevitable reality of heritage preservation–saving everything is an impossibility–a nuanced understanding of the fundamental role of loss is an important counterpart to these organizations’ work towards preservation, permanence and sustainability.
Once seen as static evidence of the past, heritage is now recognized as the subject of ongoing reinterpretation, maintenance, and negotiation for those living in the present. Collectors are increasingly willing to confront processes of repatriation, reparation and restitution, and other forms of deaccessioning, and vocabularies of ownership are giving way to those of stewardship, custody, and post-custody. At the same time, heightened attention to sustainable practices is also encouraging a reassessment of longstanding assumptions about collection development and preservation, challenging the model of limitless expansion, growth and permanence as a primary measure of success. Cultural memory and heritage workers, too, face many other kinds of loss within and beyond the workplace that impacts their labor, including loss of resources, safety nets, and colleagues. What is heritage and cultural property, and to whom do they belong? Who owns the past, and what does such ownership mean? Is it possible for acts of past injustice to result in cooperative relationship-building for the future? How can a sustained interrogation of collection and heritage loss be productively leveraged to reckon with other kinds of loss in the cultural memory and heritage workspace? We seek to explore these and other related questions during this two-day conference.