DPLA announces creation of Digital Equity Project Community of Practice
Dear Friends of DPLA:
Late last month, DPLA announced $850,000 in new funding from the Mellon Foundation to support our efforts to advance racial justice in American archives. This funding will enable DPLA to launch a Digital Equity Project to provide support for underrepresented, under-resourced archives and expand DPLA’s capacity for supporting and partnering with diverse archival projects.
Today, I am pleased to share that we have partnered with an initial cohort of three organizations to form a Digital Equity Project Community of Practice: Charlotte Mecklenburg Library; Seattle Public Library; and DPLA’s Recollection Wisconsin Hub / University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries. Each of these organizations will receive subgrant awards to pursue a project dedicated to digital capacity building. Representatives from each group will take part in our Digital Equity Project Community of Practice, which will work together to create a collaborative model for partnering with diverse archival projects and providing direct financial support for the development of people, projects, and new practices.
Digital Equity Project support will enable Charlotte Mecklenburg Library to grow its Living Archives Project, an initiative to document the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities in Mecklenburg County. “Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is thrilled to partner again with DPLA on this important archival work, ensuring that no one’s story of the COVID-19 pandemic is lost, misrepresented, or ignored.”- Martha Yesowitch, Community Partnerships Manager, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
The Recollection Wisconsin Hub and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries will fund a Milwaukee Women’s Art Library community ambassador who will engage with Milwaukee’s women’s and non-binary art community to identify potential new contributors and break down barriers to access and participation. “We are grateful for the opportunity to nurture and strengthen this developing partnership to preserve and honor the work of women and non-binary artists in Milwaukee.”-Emily Pfotenhauer, Digital Strategist and Grants Manager, WiLS (formally Wisconsin Library Services)
The Seattle Public Library will build on an existing relationship with Wa Na Wari to support the continuation and further development of their Seattle Black Spatial Histories Institute, which trains community members in the techniques and best practices of oral history and Black memory work. Project goals include increasing representation of Black experiences in Seattle’s cultural and historical record; supporting ongoing community history work conducted by a Black-led organization; making Black oral history publicly accessible in ways that are ethical and accountable to the community. “The Seattle Black Spatial Histories Institute is one way, among many, that Wa Na Wari seeks to build collective power towards a future of Black ownership and belonging by rooting our work in a legacy of Black resilience, creativity, and self-determination. Training community members in the techniques and best practices of Black memory work is an important step towards shifting power around whose stories are told, how they’re told, and what place those stories hold in the shaping of Black futures. Wa Na Wari is thrilled to further this work through our collaboration with SPL.”-Wa Na Wari
You can find a complete description of each organization’s individual project and timeline following this note.
To find out more about the Digital Equity Project and hear directly from our initial set of partners about their projects, as well as learn more about opportunities for your organization to get involved with this work, I encourage you to join us next Tuesday, July 19, at 1 pm ET for our Digital Equity Project information session. Please register here.
I look forward to seeing you then.
Shaneé Yvette Willis
DPLA Director of Community Engagement
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Living Archives Project: Beginning in summer 2021, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library began participating in the Living Archives Project, a community partner-based initiative to gather, preserve, and share local histories—stories, documents, visual imagery, and memories—about the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities in Mecklenburg County. The Library is acting as a convener, partner, and project guide, leveraging its community trust and reach to bring residents into the project. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, in partnership with DPLA, will create a robust website interface to make the Living Archives Project easily accessible to participants, stakeholders, and interested parties.
Project Timeline: October 2022-June 2024
Grant Amount: $50,000
Recollection Wisconsin Hub and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries– Milwaukee Women’s Art Library Community Ambassador: The Milwaukee Women’s Art Library (MWAL) began in 2018 as a grassroots project to develop a library and archive “founded on the principles of solidarity, difference, and action,” with an aim to document and share the histories of “women and non-binary artists operating outside of global economic centers.” In summer 2021, the “MWAL made the decision to transfer the archive and collecting imperative to the Archives at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries in order to support long-term access and preservation. While the MWAL collection will benefit enormously from the institutional resources of UWM, it is a still-growing collection that is rooted in a diverse and dispersed local community that is often not only unfamiliar with the university campus, but intimidated by its academic setting, or simply the location and protocols. In order to bridge the gap between institutional support and grassroots community-led collection-building, we propose a program to engage a community ambassador who is from and of the women and non-binary art community in Milwaukee. The community ambassador will work with the Archives to build ties to the community and identify contributors to the collection. The community ambassador will benefit from training in traditional and digital archival procedures. At the same time, the Archives will engage the community ambassador to help identify and change practices and processes that unnecessarily create barriers to access and use for the very communities the collection documents. This will be a paid part-time position.
Project Timeline: October 2022-September 2023
Grant Amount: $25,000
Seattle Public Library & Wa Na Wari: Seattle Black Spatial Histories Institute: The Seattle Public Library will build on an existing relationship with Wa Na Wari to support the continuation and further development of their Seattle Black Spatial Histories Institute, which trains community members in the techniques and best practices of oral history and Black memory work. Project goals include increasing representation of Black experiences in Seattle’s cultural and historical record; supporting ongoing community history work conducted by a Black-led organization; making Black oral history publicly accessible in ways that are ethical and accountable to the community. The work for this project will be further defined through a co-design process with partners but may include:
- Gathering oral histories on topics relevant to Black history in Seattle
- Transcription, activation, and public access of existing oral histories collected by Wa Na Wari
- Public programming to share stories collected through the project
- Continued oral history training for participant(s) in 2023 Black Spatial Histories Institute
Project Timeline: October 2022-December 2024
Grant Amount: $100,000