Sustaining Visions and Legacies: The Future of Special Collections Libraries

Saturday, March 7, 2020
9:00 am PST – 5:00 pm PST

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

conference organized by Anna Chen (Head Librarian, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA) and Johanna Drucker (Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies, UCLA)

How will special collections libraries be sustained in the near and long-term future? Issues of sustainability touch every aspect of library activity—collections development, resource allocation, ethical issues in balancing priorities and juggling professional practices, the use of digitization, programming and outreach, and the changing needs of scholars. These and other topics are central to thinking forward, creating a vision of sustainable practices for special collections and rare book libraries.

Sustaining Visions and Legacies: The Future of Special Collections Libraries is framed by the particular challenges of rare collections in unique libraries housed in historical sites and buildings, located in communities beyond university campuses, and whose collections pose challenges in terms of the changing communities in which they reside, serve, and take part. Speakers will address the thematic, pragmatic, and problematic issues of site-specificity and sustainability in unique heritage collections. While sustainability often invokes notions of environmentalism and “green” practices, this conference considers sustainability in a more holistic sense, at the intersection of site specificity, community, collections, and special collections.

Tanya E. Clement, University of Texas at Austin
Doug Daniels, University of California, Los Angeles
Courtney Dean, University of California, Los Angeles
Lori Dedeyan, Independent Archivist
Jesse R. Erickson, University of Delaware
Meredith Evans, Society of American Archivists
Margaret Hughes, Huntington Library
Tom Hyry, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Russell Johnson, University of California, Los Angeles
Jeremy Myntti, University of Utah
Michael Osman, University of California, Los Angeles
Ellen Pearlstein, University of California, Los Angeles
Megan Riley, University of California, Los Angeles
Laura Stalker, Huntington Library
John M. Unsworth, University of Virginia
Christopher Wilde, The Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP)
Casey Winkleman, University of California, Los Angeles


8:30 a.m.
Morning Coffee and Registration

9:00 a.m.
Anna Chen, Head Librarian, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles
Johanna Drucker, Breslauer Professor of Bibliographical Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:15 a.m.
Intersecting Perspectives on Sustainability: Special Collections
Understanding sustainability at the intersection of site-specificity, and special collections across a range of perspectives and areas of expertise: scholarly, library, archival, environmental, community, and preservationist perspectives

John M. Unsworth, Dean of Libraries, University Librarian, Professor of English, University of Virginia
“Why the University of Virginia Chose to Preserve its Card Catalog: A Site-Specific Story”

9:40 a.m.
Laura Stalker, Avery Deputy Director, Huntington Library
“Survival Skills for a New Millennium”

10:05 a.m.
Physical Sites/Social Sites, Landscapes & Environments
Balancing historic site preservation and use, challenges for doing preservation in and around historic buildings and landscapes as sites/conditions change, assessing and reassessing ecological and human costs and liabilities in the work environment

Michael Osman, Associate Professor and Director of the Critical Studies and M.A./Ph.D. programs at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design
“The Augmented Architect”

10:30 a.m.
Ellen Pearlstein, Professor, UCLA Information Studies and the UCLA/Getty Program in the Conservation of Ethnographic and Archaeological Materials
“The intersection of Sustainability and Conservation Practices”

10:55 a.m.
Coffee Break

11:10 a.m.
Spotlight on Labor
Attention to the many issues that contribute to sustainability of a viable professional workforce includes analysis of contingent labor practices, internships, and also, the emotional costs of affective labor

Courtney Dean, Head, Center for Primary Research and Training, UCLA Library Special Collections, Lori Dedeyan, Independent Archivist, and Margaret Hughes, Archival Processing Manager, Huntington Library
“The Effects of Contingent Labor on the Sustainability of Special Collections”

11:35 a.m.
Megan Riley, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
“Precarity, Emotional Labor, and Workforce Sustainability in Library and Information Studies”

12:00 p.m.

1:50 p.m.
Communities, Collections,
Shifting sites and moving collections, advantages of location, structural issues of bias and inequity, privilege and liability, the challenge of reassessing collections as cultural values change and legacy materials or practices get reframed

Christopher Wilde, Co-founder, Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP)
“Toward Authentic Sustainability”

2:15 p.m.
Jesse R. Erickson, Assistant Professor of English, Senior Assistant Librarian, University of Delaware
“Averting the Gaze: Affect, Material Culture, and the Future of the Special Collections Reading Room”

2:40 p.m.
Digitization: Challenging & Extending Sitedness
Sustaining infrastructure, processing digital assets, changing expectations of access, challenges of scale and maintenance, rights, costs, and long-term investment

Jeremy Myntti, Head, Digital Library Services, Marriott Library, University of Utah
“Challenges of Sustaining a Large Digital Special Collections Repository”

3:05 p.m.
Tanya E. Clement
, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Texas at Austin
“Special Collections Audiovisual Preservation and Access or When Digitization is a Waste of Time”     

3:30 p.m.
Doug Daniels
, Coordinator of Scholarly Innovation Technologies, UCLA Library, and Casey Winkleman, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles
“Sustaining Resources for Digital Preservation”

3:55 p.m.
Coffee Break

4:10 p.m.
Sustainable Management, Planning, and Leadership
Managing leadership in the long view, responsibility and judgement, sustaining labor and professional work, anticipating expertise will we need in the future as pressures/resources change; who sets agendas and how are these factored into sustainability planning

Tom Hyry, Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library and Director of Arts and Special Collections of Harvard College Library
“Sustainability in Concentric Circles”

4:35 p.m.
Meredith Evans, President, Society of American Archivists
“Sandwiched: Work Culture, Physical Space and Side of Technology”

5:00 p.m.

There is no charge for this event. Advance booking is requested.

This event has reached capacity. If you would like to be put on the wait list, please email

Booking Form

Bookings are currently closed for this event.