ASIS&T 2014 Annual Meeting 
Seattle, WA | October 31 - November 5, 2014

Community-Centered Collecting: Finding Out What Communities Want from Community Archives

Michelle Caswell
UCLA, United States of America

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2:00pm


While much recent work on community archives assumes that independent, grassroots archival organizations best match the priorities and needs of local communities, little empirical work has been done to confirm this assumption. This study begins to remedy this gap by exploring what one subgroup of users of one community archive (the South Asian American Digital Archive or SAADA) would like to see the archive collect through a content analysis of responses given by South Asian American undergraduates to the questions of what they wish to know more about their grandparentsí generation and what they would like their grandchildren to know about them. The analysis uncovered several key themes about the past of interest to the subpopulation: information about specific relatives, major historical events in South Asia, economic, cultural, and racial barriers their parents or grandparents faced when they came to the U.S., and reasons for leaving South Asia. It also uncovered several areas that participants would like future generations to know about the present: social justice activism, blending two cultures, struggling to fit in as a minority, the impact of technological change, and discrimination in the wake of September 11, 2001. Based on these findings, some key collection priorities are suggested for SAADA to best match community needs.