Latinx, Black, Asian & Pacific Islander and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) communities currently make up over 42% of Arizona’s population, but each of these communities are only represented in 0-2% of known archival collections. In order to address this inequity and erasure of these marginalized communities, Arizona State University (ASU) Library, with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which provided funding for a three-year project starting in 2017, designed an initiative to co-develop authentic and inclusive community-driven archival collections in Arizona. This initiative which builds relationships with historically marginalized communities seeks to center the lived experiences and knowledge of these community members by creating intergenerational and intersectional safe spaces to support lifelong learning. We aim to not only acknowledge the historical trauma of these communities but to support them in healing projects, led by community members and advocate for the equal ownership of archives and the shared stewardship of responsibilities when it comes to these projects. We work with communities to redefine the traditional definition and function of an archive by providing free access to archival supplies and library resources that will help communities preserve their stories for future generations.
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Jessica Salow is currently an Archives Specialist at Arizona State University Library with the Community-Driven Archives Initiative (CDA) which was established in 2017 through the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She obtained her Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) from The University of Arizona and is an alumna of Arizona State University. Her current work with the CDA team focuses on building relationships with historically marginalized communities (Latinx, Black, Asian & Pacific Islander, Indigenous and the LGBTQ+) in Arizona by creating intergenerational and intersectional safe spaces for people within these communities to acknowledge historical traumas. We do this by centering the lived experiences of these marginalized communities and invite members to share their knowledge with others through workshops we host with community partners. Our work in this space is meant to redefine the traditional definition and function of an institutional archive and bring to light archival material that has previously been overlooked by institutional archives.
Alana Victoria Varner is a Project Archivist for Distinctive Collections at Arizona State University Library. She’s responsible for the successful implementation and completion of “Engaging, Educating, and Empowering: Developing Community-Driven Archival Collections”, a three-year Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. Prior to joining the team at ASU, Alana worked at Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project where she contributed to the processing and digitization of archival collections. She has also worked for the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies at University of Texas, Austin, the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection and Ms. magazine. She holds an M.S. in Information Studies, with a specialization in Archives and Museum Studies, and an M.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from UT Austin, as well as a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Arizona.