Evans – Question 4
4How is an archive’s radicality or radical potential affected by relationships with users, collaborators, communities, and/or other institutions, in your experience?
Meredith R. Evans
Associate University Librarian – Washington University
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In the beginning it was not clear how the university community and supporters would respond to this project. It helped that the library leadership was fully supportive. Washington University in St. Louis is a medium-sized independent school founded in 1853. It has a sizeable endowment and a substantial tuition. There is a heavy emphasis on research, service to the community, global citizenship, and civic engagement. 40% of the enrolled students identify as non-white. The events in Ferguson erupted ten miles away from the main campus, and the verdict was announced in a courthouse less than two miles away. And although the proximity of these events had a direct impact on university staff and students who lived and worked in these areas, the project team questioned whether there was enough trust in the community for people to submit content.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Although we have not assessed the contributors or contributions to Documenting Ferguson, we are hopeful that the initial submissions are from those actively involved in local events and/or from people who reside in St. Louis and the surrounding area. The archive includes photographs of protests, murals, the area clean up, and reconciliation. There are creative works in the repository, such as art, music, and poetry, and materials not directly related to the Brown case, such as a Zine dedicated to black women who have been killed by law enforcement. Washington University Libraries is committed to maintaining this repository and adding to it. Documenting Ferguson is an unedited voice of the people of St. Louis that cannot be deleted or blocked.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 We have been praised and criticized: praised for acting quickly and for showing interest with care; criticized for the repository content being seemingly “one-sided.” We continue to bring awareness to the repository without bias, reaching out to all constituents with varying viewpoints. And we remain grateful for people’s willingness to upload items.