I’ve vowed to finish writing this book by the end of the summer-The Carlisle Indian School: A Photographic History

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been doing work to help make information about the students at the Carlisle Indian School more widely available. I had as a long-term goal to write a book about it. I had even started the outline for what I’ll now call That Book. That Book is planned to be a history of the school aimed at a popular audience.

But, for complicated reasons, I’m now committed to finishing a different book on the Indian School by the end of the summer. I will refer to this book as This Book, although it has a working title-The Carlisle Indian School: A Photographic History. Here’s my preliminary blurb:

From the beginning, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was documented in photographs. The photographic record initiated with the school’s founding was intended to share with the world the progress and successes of the process of transforming Native Americans into imitations of white middle-class Americans, ready to assimilate into late 19th century America. In their time, the photographs served their desired purposes: to promote the school, to create a brand, to aid in fundraising, and to capture a narrow perspective on student life. Today’s viewers look at them with different eyes and greater knowledge and understanding of what Carlisle represented.

The Carlisle Indian School: A Photographic History will trace the history of the school through these images, exploring how photography can inform an initial understanding of what Carlisle meant to the culture of its time, and give an indication of the legacy it left for its students and our culture today. Drawing on the latest scholarship and rich in images, this volume will be an ideal introduction to the complex history of the first Federally-managed off-reservation boarding school for Native Americans in the United States. Lists of students who attended the Carlisle Indian School, as well as staff members, will also be included, based on the records from the National Archives now available online through the Carlisle Indian School Digital Resource Center.

So, there you go. That’s what will be keeping me busy this summer. If you see me spending too much time on Twitter (which I might do, since I have to write), scold me and tell me to get back to work.

I’m happy to begin connecting with others who are interested in this topic or might have resources to recommend for either This Book or That Book. I’m also happy to hear from publishers who are interested in learning more about either Book.

Wish me luck!



The book is available! You should buy it NOW!

I hope you’ll excuse my enthusiasm. I suppose I should have a more dignified tone, but what the hell. You can purchase Well, What Came Next? Selections from ArchivesNext, 2007-2017 in print or as an ebook on Amazon. You can see the table of contents in the previous post.

It’s been a wonderful process, reviewing ten years of blog posts, going through old memories and seeing how much has changed, for archives and me. I think I’ve captured a thoughtful summary of the evolution of my own thinking as well as a snapshot of the archival profession during that eventful decade. It’s a damn good book, and I’m proud of it. I had better be, since I’m self-publishing it, and so am responsible for the whole thing. And, given that I don’t have a publisher to promote the book for me, I’d appreciate any help I can get in spreading the word. You can order it for your organization’s library, of course, through Amazon.

Thanks to everyone who contributed, either through guest posts, feedback, and advice over the years. Hope you enjoy the book!



Table of Contents for ArchivesNext book, and see me at #saa17 if you want a bookmark

UPDATE: The book is now available on Amazon (Kindle version coming soon): http://a.co/6FU2b2q. I still have some bookmarks, so if you’re keen for one or two, let me know. It’s a pretty good book. I think you’ll enjoy reading. 

See, I told you that wouldn’t be the last post. I’m at SAA in Portland right now, handing out promotional bookmarks (featuring Biker Dog) like a mad woman.

Here’s the table of contents for the Selections from ArchivesNext book, which again should be available in a couple of weeks. It’s 70 posts, and I think does a fair job of representing the past decade. (If you’ve been reading me from the beginning that makes you feel old, doesn’t it?)


Getting Warmed Up

So, What’s Going on Here?

What is the “archives” brand?

What do archivists want?

What is our core identity, or, can we all fit under one big tent?

An Archivist’s 2.0 Manifesto?

Social Media and the Web         

“Getting the real work done”

NARA and the web harvest: a discussion of the issues

The role of blogs in professional discourse in the archival profession

Archivists and blogging, the conversation continues

An amazing Flickr success story: “maybe you found a photo of Phineas Gage? If so, it would be the only one known.”

Why are effective use of social media and participatory technologies critical? Winners of the book giveaway contest

The Archival Profession               

Vision (or lack of it) is the most critical issue facing the archival profession

A twisted mass of issues – the rest of my list

Two examples of how the future of archives is in connecting

Archival organizations provide advice to Obama Transition Team: Good news and bad news

My Version of Trendswatch 2012: The Archives Edition

Honest tips for wannabe archivists out there

The role of “the professional discipline” in archives and digital archives

Archives Writ Large

Archives are a luxury

Archives 2.0?

This is what I’m talking about: MPLP = Archives 2.0

Why we need to find a term to replace “citizen archivist”

A seeming consensus about a definition for “citizen archivist” and the continued need for a different term (also, a brief discussion of one of the next big challenges facing archives)

Horrors! The archives have been hacked! Wait–that’s a good thing.

The increasingly common use of “archive” as a verb

The problem with the scholar as “archivist,” or is there a problem?

Video available from Emory University: “Salman Rushdie Discusses Creativity and Digital Scholarship with Erika Farr ” (and also his archives)

Two meanings of “archival silences” and their implications

Debate: The majority of users don’t care about provenance. They just want access to information.

“Well done”: When context of records matters

A different kind of “archival silence”: “we are in the middle of a selective recreation of inherited culture”

Participatory Archives  

Clark Shirky on how to successfully (or unsuccessfully) attract online collaborators

Four “places” for archives to interact with users

Building participatory archives

The Future of Archives is Participatory: Archives as Platform, or A New Mission for Archives

Responding to Mike’s comments, and should I put this on a t-shirt?

Asking Smart People What They Think (or, Posts by Guest Bloggers)     

Richard Cox shares his thoughts on the future of archives

Kathleen Roe shares her thoughts on challenges/opportunities

Terry Baxter’s words of wisdom for the new year

Christine Di Bella’s candidates for greatest challenge and opportunity

Amy Cooper Cary: Challenge & opportunity are the same–diversify our future

Dan Santamaria shares some thoughts on the recent MPLP discussions

Our Friends, the Historians        

Reflections on “Archiving Social Media”

Archivists and historians—Am I giving archivists too much credit?

Some observations on the “archival divide,” or what I said at AHA about historians and archivists

Antoinette Burton’s perspective on the “archival divide:” remarks delivered at AHA

Peter Wosh’s thoughts on the “archival divide”: remarks delivered at AHA

Anything new here for archives? “Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians”

Yes, Archivists Have a Sense of Humor. Really.

You guys really don’t like Sharpies–the #badarchivists Twitter meme

The last of the #badarchivists

The archivist’s romance novel contest: What would you do if you were in her frumpy shoes?

Winners of the Archivist Romance Novel Contest: It’s the Romantics vs. the Cold-Hearted Career Women

Cerulean Pools vs. Archives-Made Shivs: The Honorable Mentions in the Archivist Romance Novel Contest

The OverlyHonestArchivists tweets

Things I Published or Said When Standing Behind a Podium      

What is the Meaning of Archives 2.0? (Article available)

“Archives in Context and as Context” in Journal of Digital Humanities

My talk from #AHA14: A Distinction worth Exploring: “Archives” and “Digital Historical Representations”

“Now is what matters”: My first official appearance as an “agent provocateur” at the Canadian Archives Summit

What is the Professional Archivist’s Role in the Evolving Archival Space? (A talk given in Christchurch, NZ)

Gaps in the Past and Gaps in the Future: Archival Silences and Social Media – #acaubc2016 talk

My #ACA2016 plenary: It’s the end of the archival profession as we know it, and I feel fine

Getting Personal, Doing Good  


So, what’s going on here? (Independence Day edition)

Spontaneous Scholarships for SAA Annual Meeting: How to give, how to apply

Update on Spontaneous Scholarship Effort–Deadline to give extended & we’ll keep giving until we run out of money

2 weeks, 94 generous people, 26 happy people–Summing up the Spontaneous Scholarships

Crunching numbers on the Spontaneous Scholarships & where you can find me at #saa14

Dogs & Cats from the Archives to benefit the Cleveland Animal Protective League: The Rules

The Cleveland Animal Protective League–and Biker Dog–win! Thanks to your generosity.

Epilogue, or, Choose the Bigger Life

Epilogue, or, Choose the Bigger Life

As many of you know, I’ve been pulling together selections from this blog for a published collection. I started writing ArchivesNext in 2007, so a decade seems like a nice round number to celebrate. There will be about 70 posts collected in the book, which will be available shortly via Amazon in traditional and e-form. This post will not be the last one to be published here, as I’m sure I’ll be doing some book promotion in the coming weeks, but it’s the post that I’ll use as an epilogue to the book. Perhaps my outlook won’t be as bleak after attending the SAA meeting in Portland this week, but this captures my feelings as I finished up reviewing a decade’s worth of posts from ArchivesNext. I’ll still be around, here and in other forms, and this post sums up what’s next for me. 


Looking back over these posts, what strikes me most powerfully is how much the world—and I—have changed since I wrote them. I don’t have the ability to describe how disheartening it is to be living in the United States in 2017. I only hope that we don’t look back on this time and reflect on it as the beginning of the end of the world we knew. But I suspect we will. On most days, I feel overwhelmed by how little I think there is that I can do to make any kind of difference. I have lost the optimism and energy I had in 2007, when I thought—justifiably—that one person with a little blog could have an effect on the archival profession, and by extension, in some sense the world. The work I did did make a difference. I helped a lot of people. I wrote useful things. I made connections that inspired people think more creatively and contributed to building a community. It’s difficult to remember how fresh and necessary a lot of this was at the time.

But different times call for different actions. ArchivesNext was a blog about what was next for archives, focusing primarily on technology and social structures. What’s next for archives, and much of the world many of us value, is a slow extinction unless we do a better job of communicating outside our comfort zones. It’s been some years now since I made a resolution to shift my focus from writing about archives for archivists to writing about archives for non-archivists. With the completion of this book—a summary and celebration of the first phase of my writing career—I feel able to bring that part of my life to a close and move on.

In 2014 I proposed as a new mission statement for archives that they “add value to people’s lives by increasing their understanding and appreciation of the past.”  It’s a mission statement I also decided to adopt for myself, although at many times since then I’ve succumbed to the temptation to crawl back into my shell and focus on the problems of everyday life. But, the reality is that, at least for me, not engaging with the world doesn’t make me feel any better. As I write this, I am reminded of one of the resolutions recommended by a writer I admire, Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (among other things). Gretchen uses as one of her life-guiding rules to always “choose the bigger life.”

And that’s what I’m going to try to do next. Writing the ArchivesNext blog was a wonderful experience for me, and at the time, it helped me to live a bigger life. But the world and I have changed. I need to move on, taking what I learned from that productive decade of my life, and try to tackle bigger problems and try to make my voice heard on a larger stage. I may not succeed, and I certainly won’t realize the vision I have for myself, but I hope I can achieve in my next decade of writing as much as I did in my first.

My thanks again, with all my heart, to those who helped me on the journey this book represents. One of the most rewarding parts of building ArchivesNext was the connections and friendships I made with people around the world. You continue to inspire me every day, and I hope I can return the favor in the future by inspiring others to appreciate the richness and complexity of archives.


Crunching numbers on the Spontaneous Scholarships & where you can find me at #saa14

I’m horrible with numbers, and yet I’m fascinated by them. Now that we’ve been running the Spontaneous Scholarships for a few years, I thought it was a good time to look back over the results and see if there were any interesting statistics. (Also it was an excellent form of procrastination on a day when I something else to do!)

  • Out of the 98 people who received Spontaneous Scholarships between 2011-13, 75 are still SAA members. That seems like a decent retention rate, I think. Of the 23 who have dropped, 13 were students, 10 were regular members. 13 received scholarships in 2011. 5 in 2012. 5 in 2013. And, of course, that is not to say that those 23 people are no longer active in the profession–they’re just not paying dues to SAA.
  • Over the past four years of the program (2011-2014) there have been donations from 225 people. Of those, 23 people have made donations in each of the four years. An additional 31 people have made donations in 3 out of the 4 years. So just a little under 25% of the donors have given more than half of the time.
  • Of those 225 donors, 30 were people who have received scholarships. One person donated two years before she got a scholarship. Seven people made donations in the same year they received assistance (and most of them have continued to give). We have now given out scholarships to 148 people, but 50 of those people only received help this past year. As you might expect, the pattern is for people to begin donating in the years after they receive a scholarship, so this bodes well for donations in 2015, I hope.

Those seem like good results, I think, in addition to the intangible ones expressed by both donors and recipients.

If you a donor, scholarship recipient (past or current), contributor to one of the case study books, or just someone who wants to say hi, if you’re at the SAA annual meeting you will probably be able to find me hanging around the Rowman & Littlefield booth in the exhibit hall during the breaks or at the tweetup. And of course I’ll be accepting the Spotlight Award at the awards ceremony in recognition for the scholarship program. This is my first SAA meeting since I rotated off my 3-year term on Council, and I’m looking forward to a more relaxed conference experience! Hope to see many of you there.



More about Management: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections

You can order Management: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections from the Rowman & Littlefield site (and save 20% by using the promotional code 7S14ARCH). The Table of Contents is available there, and you can also read the pre-publication reviews from Michael Kurtz and David Carmichael. 

To help give you a better idea of what’s in the book, here’s an excerpt from the Introduction:

Continue reading “More about Management: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections”

More about Outreach: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections

You can order Outreach: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections from the Rowman & Littlefield site (and save 20% by using the promotional code 7S14ARCH). The Table of Contents is available there, and you can also read the pre-publication reviews from Larry Hackman and Terry Baxter. 

To help give you a better idea of what’s in the book, here’s an excerpt from the Introduction: 

Continue reading “More about Outreach: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections”

More about Reference and Access: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections

You can order Reference and Access: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections from the Rowman & Littlefield site (and save 20% by using the promotional code 7S14ARCH). The Table of Contents is available there, and you can also read the pre-publication reviews from Sharon Thibodeau and Kathy Marquis. 

To help give you a better idea of what’s in the book, here’s an excerpt from the Introduction:  Continue reading “More about Reference and Access: Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections”

More about Innovative Practices in Archives & Special Collections books (and a discount code for ordering!)

I hope you’re not unaware of the fact that the first four books in the Innovative Practices in Archives and Special Collections series are now available from Rowman & Littlefield.  The publisher has done a rather good job of promoting them, I think, but there’s not a whole lot of information about each title available on their site. So in this post and the four that follow I’ll be sharing some of the text from the introductions for the books to give you some insight into what you can expect from each title. In addition, as you may have seen if you got the publisher’s flier in the mail, there’s a discount code which will save you 20% off the cover price if you order from the R&L site:  7S14ARCH. 

In each of the introductions there’s a section in common that addresses what I mean by “innovative practices.” I know that “innovative” is one of those buzzwords that’s used a lot lately, but I think it’s a useful way to describe the content of the books. Besides, the publisher probably wouldn’t have been comfortable with Some Cool Stuff People in Archives and Special Collections are Doing. Here’s what I wrote about the series as a whole:

I debated with myself for some time over the title of this series, “Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections.” After all, what is innovative and new to one person is often standard procedure to another. Another option was to call them best practices and follow the model of a series of similar books from the same publisher featuring case studies from libraries. But this seemed equally problematic. In a field that seems to embrace the phrase it depends as a mantra, putting forward the experience of any one archives as best practice seemed ill advised.

It is the very diversity of our field, though, that caused me to stick with my innovative label rather than shying away from it. There are new ideas in these books, or at least ideas that are new to many readers. My philosophy in selecting case studies for the books in this series has been to keep in mind a broad spectrum of readers and to position the series so that it is as valuable as possible for a diverse audience. In each book are case studies from both big organizations and small ones. Some of the creative ideas presented are being implemented with costly tools and robust infrastructures, and others are being done on a shoestring. In determining what to include, I wanted to ensure that every case study incorporates ideas that are transferrable, even if the specific implementation might not be.

This commitment to making the series broadly valuable and practical has meant striving for a balance that favors more approachable innovations over implementations that are aggressively on the cutting edge. The ideas presented here are within the reach of most archives and special collections, if not right away, then in the near future. They represent the creativity and commitment to serving and expanding our audiences that I think are the defining characteristics of the archival profession in the early twenty-first century.

Because archival functions and processes are interrelated and don’t always fit neatly into compartments and because most archivists perform several of them in the course of their daily work, the contents of each of the volumes in this series has both its own clear focus and overlapping relationships with the others. Case studies in reference and access touch inevitably on description and outreach. Because the overarching purpose of description is to facilitate use, issues relating to reference, access, and outreach are components of the case studies in that volume. The overlap of the management volume with all of the others should not be surprising, though the focus of the case studies there are more explicitly on management issues. These interrelationships are inevitable given the nature of archival work, and most practitioners and students will find all of the volumes useful.



What’s going on with me …

Regular followers may have noticed I’ve been unusually quiet, both here and on Twitter. It’s been a hectic spring and once things calmed down a bit I have been taking a little break to rest and reflect. So here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on and what you can expect to see coming soonish in this space and others.

First, the books. Four of them, as you may have seen announced in this lovely glossy brochure mailed by the publisher:

R&L brochure

I think I’ve finished up reviewing all the final proofs and I don’t yet have confirmation of when they’ll actually be available, but before SAA certainly. R&L will be having a booth at the SAA annual meeting, so if you’ll be there you can check out the books in person. I have confirmed that SAA will not be carrying this series in their bookstore, so sorry, no option for an SAA member discount for these ones.

Second, the next books. In addition to these first four (Description, Management, Outreach, and Reference & Access), I’ve confirmed all the case studies for the next two books in the series. These will be on Appraisal & Acquisition and Educational Programs. So thanks to all the brave souls who signed on to contribute to those books, which should be available in Spring 2015.

Third, I’ve received very nice news from several organizations who like my work and want to recognize it. As soon as they make those announcements, I’ll share them here. And as you may have seen, this winter and spring I was asked to speak in Canada, Norway, Germany and the Czech Republic (although the Lufthansa pilots’ strike prevented me from actually making those last two). I’m not really accustomed to this kind of jet-set lifestyle, but as long as people want me to come and talk, I’ll happily oblige.

Fourth, yes, it’s that time of year again. Spontaneous Scholarships will be starting up next week. This is the also the fourth year of this campaign, and although I’m happy to organize it again, I have some trepidation about how it’s going to go. The overall number of donors was down last year (only 84 compared to 103 the previous year).  To be honest, it’s rather discouraging. I’ll do my best to drum up more support this year, so prepare to be inundated with cheerful messages from me asking for your money.

And what else?

Well, I want to try doing some new things. I’ve got three possible projects, all of which I think I’ll probably be trying to launch this year. (Well, maybe only two of them will get off the ground this year …) I’ve been writing this blog for a long time and I won’t be abandoning it, but it’s time for something  new, I think.

So, still no full-time day job for me, my friends. This is what I do. As always, thanks for everyone’s continuing support over the years, and I’ll keep you posted on what’s coming next.