In Hawaii we value the memories and histories of our ʻohana and communities. It’s what grounds us and shapes us. When our family members or loved ones pass on, they often leave priceless, valuable, and treasured items we become the guardians of. Typically, things entrusted to us include a large amount of important documents and family photographs. Many times the responsibility of caring for these items becomes overwhelming. As they age, we struggle to maintain them and to ensure their longevity. “Where do I start? What do I save? How do I take care of this?” These plaguing questions are all too familiar to anyone who has opened that old Liberty House box hiding in the corner of the garage.
These common concerns led the Community Service Committee of the Association of Hawaiʻi Archivists to realize the need our communities have in seeking information for care and preservation of historic items. In collaboration with the Society of American Archivists University of Hawai’i Mānoa Student Chapter, a free Community Archival Workshop was coordinated and held on September 24th, 2016.
The workshop committee’s goal was to offer general education in archival processes and cost effective preservation methods in ways non-LIS (Library Information Science) professionals could connect to. This meant adapting and condensing heavy archival practices and knowledge into an easy and understandable way. Approximately 30 community members and a handful of LIS related professionals attended the workshop held at the Leeward Community College Library.
3 Sessions where included in the workshop day. Knowing that Hawaiʻi family collections are predominately documents and photographs, the workshop sessions focused primarily on physical care and digitization of those materials.
Session 1 was titled “Mālama Palapala: Physical Care of Documents & Photographs”. 4 student presenters from the Society of American Archivists- University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa Student Chapter led a lively presentation covering such things as identifying common pests in Hawaiʻi homes that cause damage, basic treatment of such damaged items, understanding aging processes, historical information on photographic types, simple storage hacks and tips, and basic, easy preservation techniques. The student presenters included a live demonstration of removing photographs from commonly used magnetic albums using a hair dryer technique. Attendees especially enjoyed the students “Hu, Dis Buggah” guessing game, which included matching pictures of damaged items to the pest that created it.
Session 2 covered “Hoʻokikoho’e: Digitizing Your family history”. Recent LIS graduate from Mānoa and current Assistant Librarian at Kapolei Library Kylie Kaeo led the presentation. Using lessons learned from her own family digitization project as well as basic standards from a variety of national organizations, she created a comfortable presentation which many community members could connect to. It included simple terms used in scanning software, digital arrangement, and storage of master image files.
A third “Talk-Story” session was held after lunchtime to give attendees an opportunity to ask professionals questions concerning care for any items they may have in their personal collections. Professionals available during the Talk-Story hour were Annie Thomas, Eleanor Kleiber, Kanako Iwase, and Keau George from the AHA board. Our SAA-SC presenters from session 1 and presenter Kylie Kaeo had great advice and feedback for the discussion. Special guest professional Rachael Bussert, Congressional Papers Archivist from the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa was also present. Subjects such as care of kimono and framed photographs were asked. A very important concept came to light in our talk concerning the spiritual connection family members may have to items and how one might approach the physical handling of such things.
In a survey conducted to gain overall feedback about the workshop, attendees were positive and appreciative. Here are some of the results:
- Would you recommend this event to other community members? 100% replied “yes”
- Will you be able to use what you learned in the workshop at home with your family treasures? 100% replied “yes”
- Did you feel the presenters were knowledgeable about the topic? 100% replied “yes”
- Was the information given by the presenters informative and clear? 100% replied “yes”
- Other comments:
- “Discussion session very valuable. Thank you, great workshop. Learned what “frass” was; never knew!”
- “The workshops were very well presented. The presenters kept my attention and were very personable and engaging.”
- “Enjoyed both presentations. Speakers are very knowledgeable. Will recommend workshop to others!”
A special thank you to the AHA Community Service Committee and board, the Society of American Archivists University of Hawai’i Mānoa Student Chapter, Kīna’u McKeague for morning refreshments, Vanessa Race for a scrumptious lunch, and Wayde Oshiro for the use of the Leeward Community College Library.