CTDA In Context is an opportunity for transparency and coalition building among content managers in the repository, our friends and colleagues across the state, residents of Connecticut, and the larger public community to put into context how and where power imbalances and systemic oppression have impacted and been manifested in preserving and sharing history.
We recognize the effect of power on documenting histories, especially for marginalized communities whose presence has traditionally been minimized. CTDA In Context will encourage and support marginalized populations and affinity-based affiliated community centers, organizations, and institutions of all types in Connecticut to best preserve their histories independently. We hope to cultivate a culture that is conscious and vigilant about preventing erasure and ensure equitable preservation of history.
One core principle of the CTDA’s work is making participation and membership possible no matter your level of experience in preservation. CTDA in Context aims to keep this principle at the forefront of our activities.
First, we will provide thought leadership on the issues of diversity and inclusion at the Statewide level by addressing the inherent and systemic biases in the CTDA itself and work with our community to develop ways to make the CTDA itself antiracist. The CTDA in Context White Paper provides a blueprint for those activities.
Next, we will help our membership bring out hidden histories and the existence of underrepresented communities in existing collections.
Third, we will focus membership outreach activities on organizations that already collect material from underrepresented communities but who are not yet members of the CTDA.
Finally, we will help all members and groups identify collections and material that create a more complete picture of their local communities.
During the summer of 2021 we conducted a self-examination of the CTDA and an analysis of its peers in the Digital Public Library of America Hub network. This white paper presents the findings of the research team in terms of general observations on the current state of digital cultural heritage as well as a more specific analysis of the CTDA and offers a four-point action plan for the CTDA to follow in the near term.
The recommendations in the paper can be summarized in four points:
Policy: Current participation policies reinforce the hegemony of customary organizations.
Immediate Goal: Changing participation requirements may make it easier for underrepresented communities to participate. Revised participation policies could focus on commitment to stewardship rather than institutional affiliation.
Technology: Much or our technology and many practices are inherently biased, including search algorithms to metadata systems and tools.
Immediate Goal: Ensure our technology supports multiple cultural viewpoints in intellectual structure, metadata standards and practices, search algorithms, and more.
Inclusion: It is more difficult for us to change if we remain all the same.
Immediate Goal: Investigate and learn from others how to encourage more inclusive participation in the CTDA.
Outreach: How we describe ourselves to others speaks only to those who already know what we do and how we do it.
Immediate Goal: Improve our communications to be more understandable to non-specialists and underrepresented community members.