Not two full weeks into my new job as Digital Archivist at UVa on the AIMS grant, I rolled up my sleeves to facilitate and host an unconference with my fellow Digital Archivists. Our unconference would be two full days of discussions, demonstrations, lightning talks, and networking with digital archivists from around the globe. At first the thought was a little terrifying – I’m not even fully sure I know what this job is yet, how could I actually lead discussions on the salient topics? But my fears were baseless: all the unconference attendees were thoughtful, articulate, and lively participants. I learned much more from them than they probably did from me.
The unconference was held on the 13th and 14th of May at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville. The 27 participants represented libraries, archives, museums, and digital humanities centers across the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Despite the differences in our institutions, backgrounds, and training, we learned that we not only shared similar challenges, but also the same hopes for collaboration and innovation.
The first day started off with a round of lightning talks. Each participant had 5 minutes to present a topic, project, problem or idea that they were interested in talking about. The variety in the talks was remarkable to me, traversing the breadth and depth of all that can be thought of as “born-digital” and the many processes involved in managing it. The lightning talks were also great way to get an introduction to each participant as well as their perspective or the particular issues they were dealing with in their institution. A brief outline of each of the talks is available on the AIMS Unconference Wiki.