Librarians, Archivists, Scholars, Educators, Artists, and Activists Tackle Climate Change
Rory Litwin, (916) 905-0291
P.O. Box 188784
Sacramento, CA 95818
Release date: Friday June 2, 2017
Libraries and Archives in the Anthropocene: Colloquium 2017 (LAAC 2017) was held on May 13-14, 2017 at the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. About 40 librarians and archivists attended, as well as a handful of artists, educators and scholars, to explore their roles as stewards of a culture’s collective knowledge and the unique implications of the missions and activities of libraries and archives in the face of cataclysmic environmental changes. Speakers presented from HathiTrust, Future Library, The Prelinger Library, Interference Archive, The Library of Approximate Location, DearTomorrow, The Next Epoch Seed Library, Brooklyn Public Library, as well as many academic libraries and archives.
Keynote speaker Roy Scranton (author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene and War Porn) kicked off LAAC 2017 with a note of stark pessimism around climate disruption and a call for a reckoning with a radically different future. Presentations followed as either 20-minute papers or 5-minute lightning talks and ranged from environmentally sustainable practices, climate change communication, government policy to the raising of public awareness. At times, bold envisioning countered the speculation of unraveling of systems and infrastructures — imagining an augmented role of libraries as hubs for pre- and post-disaster training, shelter, and community resilience. LAAC 2017 served as an intensive two-day opportunity for information professionals and others to explore the social and physical realities of climate disruption, peak oil, toxic waste, deforestation, food and water shortages, loss of biodiversity, mass migration, sea level rise, and extreme weather events.
A field trip to the Interference Archive in Brooklyn reinforced LAAC 2017 with its focus on cultural production and preservation vis a vis social movements, creative engagement, and the value of archival collections in accessible, open stacks in potentially threatened environments.
“I can’t underscore enough how important it was for me personally to share the weekend with librarians and archivists who ‘get’ how foundation shaking the anthropocene is for our species. I do not get this kind of affirmation in my everyday life. Despite the grave issues we discussed I left the colloquium feeling happy to connect with my new community,” wrote one attendee.
Publisher Rory Litwin of Litwin Books, the sponsor of the colloquium, said, “This event was extremely gratifying to me, as I consider the issues we discussed to be the most important issues facing us in the information and cultural heritage professions. I hope that it will turn out to be the start of a larger effort and an active community within, outside, and across LAM organizations into the future.”
The Planning Committee was made up of Casey E. Davis Kaufman, Associate Director of the WGBH Media Library and Archives and Project Manager at the American Archive of Public Broadcasting and co-founder of ProjectARCC: Archivists Responding to Climate Change; Madeleine Charney, Sustainability Studies Librarian at UMass Amherst and co-founder of the Sustainability Round Table of the American Library Association; and Rory Litwin, former librarian and the founder of Litwin Books, LLC (Colloquium sponsor). Howard Besser, professor of Cinema Studies at NYU, hosted the Colloquium.
The LAAC 2017 website provides presenter bios and abstracts
A recording of the event’s Livestream can be found on the Facebook page
Twitter handle #LAAC17
Videotapes of sessions, slides, selective papers and the Twitter feed will soon be accessible through the University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries Special Collections & University Archives in CREDO, their digital collection
Plans are underway for LAAC 2019. For more information, contact Rory Litwin firstname.lastname@example.org.