Two weeks ago, ProjectARCC challenged archivists to elevate their collections related to climate change using #PreserveClimate. There’s also a survey archivists can fill out for collections to go into a larger project.

One example of an archive that has recently elevated their materials related to climate change is the American Archive of Public Broadcasting. In late October, the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) launched its Online Reading Room, providing the public with access to thousands of historic public television and radio programming dating back to the 1950s. As part of the inauguration of the Online Reading Room, AAPB staff launched three curated exhibits featuring content that is topically and historically significant. AAPB Project Manager Casey Davis curated one of the three exhibits, the title of which is “Climate Change Conversations: Causes, Impacts, Solutions.

The exhibit highlights television and radio conversations with climate scientists, activists, journalists, historians, and students who used the venue of public broadcasting to discuss climate change for more than a quarter of a century. In these recordings, they have repeatedly communicated the science of human-driven climate change and its impacts in interviews, call-in radio shows, debates, public lectures, news programs, and documentaries.

While scientists and activists have consistently used public broadcasting to disseminate information about climate change, the conversation has changed over time. In the 1980s, focus was primarily on communicating the potential threats of global warming. Since then, programming has increasingly examined the actual impacts, and in addition, struggled to keep the American public informed and engaged.

Organized into six sections, the exhibit highlights public broadcasting recordings of conversations on climate change—its causes, impacts, and proposed solutions—from 1970, the first year that Earth Day was celebrated, to the present. Among the recordings include conversations with Gus Speth, former Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, James Hansen, the first scientist to testify before Congress on the threat of global warming, former Vice President Al Gore, three recordings with Bill McKibben, writer and activist who founded the international organization 350.org, Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist who has become well-known for communicating climate change to fellow evangelical Christians, and David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth.

What’s in your collections?

From November 30 to December 11, world leaders and scientists will meet in Paris in the hopes of negotiating an international accord to reduce carbon emissions and respond to the imminent threats of climate change. As we move closer to this United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in the coming week, I believe that we are on the precipice of changing the conversation about climate change. Archivists can play a role in elevating the conversation and increasing climate literacy by using our collections to improve public awareness of climate change through exhibits and social media. We’re making commitments now a future for our planet. As the guardians of cultural heritage, let’s not only work to ensure the preservation of our collections from the impacts of climate change, but let’s take that responsibility further by providing better access and discoverability to our collections that could be used to educate our communities on the urgency for action on climate change.

ProjectARCC would like to challenge archives to use the hashtag #PreserveClimate during COP21, which is taking place from November 30 – December 11, and promote your collections that are relevant to the conversation about climate change.

In addition, we ask that you help us identify archival collections related to climate change by filling out this survey: https://projectarcc.org/elevate/survey-elevate/.

Once we have compiled this survey, we will use the information to create a database and visualizations that identify these collections and where they exist, which can be used as a resource for scholars, researchers, scientists, journalists, and the general public. 

We encourage you to take the challenge and #preserveclimate during COP21. If you’re wondering what types of materials are relevant to the issue of climate change, here are a few suggestions:

  • materials documenting natural disasters
  • dated historic photographs of landscapes and agriculture
  • records of climate change or environmental activist groups
  • scientific data sets for climate change research
  • government records about local, regional, or national response to climate change
  • manuscript collections documenting how people feel or felt about climate change
  • papers of climate scientists
  • recorded lectures, interviews, and debates about climate change

— Casey Davis

On Monday, October 19, 2015, ProjectARCC and ALA SustainRT co-hosted a tweet-up to discuss the actions we can take as archivists and librarians to reduce our professional carbon footprint, implement sustainable practices in our institutions to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change, and engage the public in environmental awareness and sustainability education. Each group posed three questions pertaining to these topics, totaling six distinct questions. Tweet-up participants offered great solutions, posed further questions and concerns, and shared resources.

The content of the tweet-up can be found in a curated Storify.

Stay tuned for more information on the joint ProjectARCC-SustainRT event we are planning for ALA Midwinter 2016 in Boston! Also, please tag #SustainLIS in your future tweets about anything pertaining to sustainability in LIS, including new research, trends, events, success stories, areas for improvement, thoughts, and actions.

— Carey MacDonald

Members of ProjectARCC converged upon Cleveland, Ohio last week with fellow archivists from across the United States and beyond, sharing ideas, new projects, and best practices on the preservation and access of historical materials for current and future generations.

This was ProjectARCC’s first national opportunity to share news about our work, our concerns about the impact of climate change on the archival profession, and ways we think archivists can make a positive climate impact.

Prior to the conference, ProjectARCC published a blog post sharing tips on reducing our carbon footprint while at the conference, in addition to recommending some sessions that were relevant to archivists concerned about climate change.

On Wednesday, Eira Tansey, Chair of the Protect Committee, spoke about ProjectARCC to the SAA Human Rights Roundtable. We received suggestions about possibly establishing partnerships with the Human Rights Archives Roundtable, the International Archival Affairs Roundtable, and the Latin American and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Roundtable (LACCHA). Eira will follow up on these suggestions in the next few weeks and reach out to them.

At the Forum on Archival and Special Collections Facilities led by Michele Pacifico, ProjectARCC members raised questions about how archives can prepare and build facilities understanding that climate change will impact different regions across the country in a variety of ways.

The Regional Archival Associations Consortium’s Disaster Planning Committee, led by Daria Labrinsky, decided to focus this year’s efforts on climate change impacts.

Casey Davis, Chair of the Preserve Committee, attended a session on Thursday to learn about how the SAA Council makes decisions on advocacy and policy issues, including which issues SAA is willing and interested in taking a position on. From this meeting, Casey had the idea to develop an issue brief for SAA to review and hopefully make an official statement on climate change on behalf of the Society’s membership. Later during the conference, this idea was further discussed with members of the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy. Over the next couple of months, ProjectARCC members will work on an issue brief for review by CAPP and the SAA Council.

A few ProjectARCC members gathered on Thursday at Lola Bistro in Cleveland. At the meeting, member Genna Duplisea shared her idea about the need for a ProjectARCC records retention schedule and implementation of records management best practices. Everyone agreed!

On Friday, ProjectARCC members were honored to be selected by the membership to host a PopUp Session titled “Somewhere to Run to: Acting on Climate Change within the Archival Profession.” Panelists included Genna Duplisea, Eira Tansey, and Casey Davis. Frances Harrell reported from the Reduce Committee. Many suggestions from the audience focused on assessing the climate impact of archival facilities and programs as well as researcher carbon footprints. Attended by equally concerned archivists ranging from early career to seasoned professionals, the most valuable takeaways from the sessions were contributed by the people in the audience, all of whom gave extremely helpful advice and recommendations on how ProjectARCC should move forward with its goals and how those goals could be refined. Tweets from our pop-up panel were tagged with #s509.

Following the session, Casey gave a presentation on climate change and ProjectARCC to the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable. She shared a few ideas about possible opportunities for collaboration, including co-authoring or endorsing the SAA issue brief on climate change; collaborating on a template letter or conversation with legislators, which archivists could then use to urge their elected officials to take action on climate change; and collaborating on a carbon incentive program for SAA 2016 in Atlanta.

Overall, the conference was hugely successful. ProjectARCC members made new contacts and advocates across the country. Archivists are understanding that the issue of climate change affects everything that we do, as professionals, as individuals, as communities and across the world. We’re honored to be part of this movement to better understand climate impacts on our profession, and equally as importantly, what efforts we can take to act on climate change within and beyond it.

A Storify of our time at SAA15, with tweets from the Human Rights Roundtable, our Pop Up Session, and the Issues & Advocacy Roundtable can be found here!

— Casey Davis, Eira Tansey, and Genna Duplisea

Originally posted at Hack Library School’s Hack Your Summer series, in response to the question, Are you doing any internships or volunteer work in libraries this summer? Updates by the author, Amy Wickner. Available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

In addition to summer classes and my regular library job, I just started working with a new group called ProjectARCC, composed of archivists concerned about climate change. Goals for the project include understanding and countering the impact of climate change on archival collections; examining the energy impact and ecological footprint of our work, from facilities to storage to travel; raising awareness about archival collections relevant to climate change; and documenting national, international, and local responses to and impacts of climate change. Read more about the what, why, and how here.

An initial reaction after just several weeks with ProjectARCC: It’s fascinating to consider the range of material that could enrich public understanding of climate change through archival collections. There’s the Old Weather transcription project, working directly with naval weather observations. We may also look to collections like Colorado State University’s Water Resources Archive and the papers and lab notebooks of climate scientists to understand the history of research on climate
change and the organizational and political, uh, climate in which that research emerged. The Elevate committee’s charge is to consider how best to promote and connect this kind of material.

As a former architect and landscape architect, I can’t help seeing design archives as a key part of this initiative as well. How does awareness and understanding of climate change affect how we envision the future built environment? (And, how will future disaster movies envision the devastation of that built environment?) Several members of ProjectARCC are also working directly with climate change awareness groups to provide data management help. Archival material documenting climate change may come from all kinds of sources; which makes sense if we consider how the climate change itself affects all corners of the world.

The project is rolling along, but there are many opportunities to get involved. Start by catching up on the July 8 tweet-up via #preserveclimate.

On a personal note, participating in this kind of work can be tough. It’s entirely on a volunteer basis, and everyone involved is either working or in school full-time. With so many people collaborating for the first time, it takes a lot of cat-herding to keep enthusiasm going and keep the project focused. On the other hand, things can move very quickly in the early stage of a project. I was recently away for six days and it’s taken three more to catch up on ProjectARCC emails — and I’m far from the most involved team member. Doing what we can, without wasting time feeling guilty about not doing more, seems like a sustainable approach to volunteer work. It’s amazing that opportunities like this exist to support personally and professionally meaningful causes; but being responsible enough to both contribute significantly and not let everything else fall by the wayside can be a real challenge.

– Amy Wickner

On July 8 at 1pm EDT, ProjectARCC successfully hosted its first tweet up on climate change. From all around the twitterverse, archivists and like minded members came to talk about climate change on a personal and professional level. Using six questions to guide the conversation, we talked about what motivates us, the questions we have regarding climate change, and how we are taking action in our personal and professional spheres.

See the hour’s discussion in a curated Storify.

ProjectARCC has a four-fold mission to affect climate change.

  • Archivists can educate themselves on disaster preparedness of preservation risks posed by climate change and protecting their collections.
  • Archivists can advocate for reducing our professional carbon footprint.
  • Archivists can elevate our collections to improve public awareness of climate change.
  • Archivists can actively work to ensure long term preservation of the climate change movement.

If you would like to learn more about ProjectARCC or get involved with one of our committees please visit our website or send us an email at info.projectarcc@gmail.com.