Organized by members of Greenhouse Studios at the University of Connecticut and Northeastern University Library, the conference series “Remote Access to Archives and Special Collections” took place over five Fridays from October 16th to November 20th, 2020. Each session included an organizer and was headlined by a speaker or group of panelists. The organizer of each session created the format for the session, set the agenda, gave an overview of the session at the beginning, and coordinated with the speaker. The speaker of each session gave opening remarks to frame the conversation and highlight themes for that particular session. Each session was attended by at least 40 participants from a wide range of collecting institutions.
As a part of the Sourcery project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this conference series often touched on the potential use of Sourcery as a way to fulfill remote requests for archives and special collections. In this way, the series partly acted as community outreach for the Sourcery project. In addition, the events were envisioned as a series of workshops where members of the archives and special collections communities could communicate about current and future practices in regards to remote access. As with everything during this time period, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis was a substantial part of the discussions, as it affects and will continue to affect institutions in myriad ways. The Sourcery team has used these conversations to inform the next phase of the Sourcery project. The questions and concerns raised during the sessions have been integral in the way that we are currently constructing an Institutional version of the Sourcery app.
One result of this conference is a white paper titled “Remote Access to Archives and Special Collections”, by Wes Hamrick, Kimberly Kennedy, and Garrett McComas. The paper includes summaries of the conference sessions, keynote speeches, as well as discussions of broader issues on the subject of remote access. The Sourcery team looks forward to continuing conversations with archivists and other information professionals as we navigate the development of the project.