ASU Library Archives Initiative Receives Prestigious Archival Innovator Award

July 11, 2022

It all started with a dream. Eleven years ago, Nancy Godoy was a graduate student at the University of Arizona river of knowledge library and information science program, imagining a way to center the lived experiences and knowledge of marginalized communities.

Now director of the Community-Driven Archives Initiative at the ASU Library, that dream was recognized with an award for Best Innovator for Sharing and Preserving Untold Stories and Stories.

Clockwise from top left: Alexander Soto, Kenia Menchaca Lozano, Nancy Godoy, Jessica Salow and Lorrie McAllister.
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The the initiative has was named the 2022 recipient of the Archival Innovation Award by the Society of American Archivists. The award recognizes creative approaches by archivists, custodians, or organizations that have extraordinary impact on a community through archival and outreach programs.

“I believe this award represents an ongoing shift within the profession and academia to center and empower Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community,” said Godoy, one oneAssociate Archivist at the ASU Library. “We still have a lot of work and advocacy to do, especially in Arizona, but I think it’s important to highlight the power of BIPOC-queer solidarity, knowledge, safe spaces, and community healing.”

A community-centered team approach

The Community-Driven Archives Initiative is the result of a concerted effort to broaden and deepen Arizona State University’s engagement with its communities. Impressed with the initiative’s work to increase the documentation of marginalized communities in Arizona, the Society of American Archivists’ award committee recognized how the team developed this important work from a grant-funded project to a regular practice.

Current and past members of the team include Godoy; Lorrie McAllisterassociate university librarian for collection service and analysis; Kenia Menchaca Lozanoarchival specialist; Jessica Sallowaassistant archivist of the Black Collections; Alexandre Soto, director of the Labriola National American Indian Data Center; and Alana Varner, previously an initiative project archivist (Varner is now project coordinator with the Digital Borderlands Project at the University of Arizona).

“The Community Archives team centers communities that have been historically marginalized by institutions of higher education and works to preserve restorative archival memory in Arizona, serving as a model for transforming archival practices,” McAllister said.

The results of this initiative have created additional partnerships with marginalized communities, a greater focus on preserving BIPOC and LGBTQ voices, and three permanently funded positions in the archives, including a Black Collections archivist.

The Archival Innovator Award follows the recognition of the initiative of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and ASU President Michael Crow. The initiative recently won a grant from the Mellon Foundation, Engage, Educate and Empower: Developing community-oriented archival collections. » The evolution of this project can be found in the recent publication of Godoy “Community Archives: Conocimiento, Healing and Justicein the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies.

Last fall, President Crow recognized community-run archives in the Listen, Invest, Facilitate, Teach (LIFT) Initiativewhich aims to accelerate meaningful change at ASU and contribute to a national social justice agenda.

Indigenization of archives

The initiative also allowed the ASU Library Labriola American Indian National Data Center embrace and indigenize community-driven archival approaches to engagement with tribal communities.

Lourdes Pereira (Hia-Ced O’odham and Yoeme), a student librarian at the Labriola Center, had the idea of ​​becoming an archivist for her tribal community.

“Labriola is the only reason I became an archivist for my own tribal community, resulting from my exposure to Labriola’s community archive workshops and meeting Alex Soto and Nancy Godoy,” Pereira said. “Their stories have inspired me to take initiatives within my our own community and our archives. It has been an absolute honor to work alongside them. Their efforts to reach out and travel to tribal communities, connect with community and not forcing settler ideology on what “archives” are, but what it is for. Indigenous communities need to be recognized.

A new generation of community archivists

Of archive toolkits to organizing local events and collaborating with BIPOC and LGBTQ community partners, the initiative’s work continues to empower marginalized communities by creating safe spaces for learning and engagement. Working with community-run archives has been a defining experience for many students, including Myra Khan, who has worked with the archives for over three years.

“ADC’s work is both about empowering communities and reforming institutions, and both aspects of our work are crucial to ensuring an equitable future in archival work,” Khan said. “While I have no intention of becoming a career archivist, I strongly believe that understanding the often deliberate erasure of minority history across the country has ramifications in politics, law, economics and much more, and is necessary for all professions, especially those seeking to redress social injustices.

Shaping the future of “memory preservation”

As the work of community archives expands to communities in Arizona and beyond, the team hopes it will continue to have an impact on the archival profession.

“The best way for archivists working in universities or other large institutions to get involved in CDA’s work is to reach out to community organizations and archives,” Khan said. “Share resources, both physical and academic, to help re-empower disenfranchised groups and change their relationship with the same institutions that have excluded them in the past.”

Godoy will continue to build this dream.

“Over the next five years, CDA will break down more barriers and power structures that lead to erasure and inequality,” Godoy said. “I really want to invest in our future by improving the educational journey of BIPOC and LGBTQ communities. The future of memory preservation is the creation of intergenerational and intersectional archives led by community archivists.”

The Society of American Archivists Archival Innovator Award was established in 2012. This year, Laura Gottlieb and Robbie Terman are also recipients of the Archival Innovator Award for their work on the Center for Michigan Jewish Heritage.

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