AAC Travel Fund Award Winner Angelica Hernandez Reports on MAC 2023

09 May 2023 3:41 PM | Doris Cardenas

Photo caption: Opening slide from Deep Processing: Emotional Labor in the Archives. Photograph by Angelica Hernandez.

As a first time attendee to the 2023 MAC Annual Meeting, my experience was filled with powerful conversations, community building, and sharing space.

My journey started at the DEI Unconference, held at the Newberry Library here in Chicago. This was my first unconference experience and it was unlike anything I'd ever encountered. As opposed to the traditional session format, the unconference featured roundtables where all participants were able to brainstorm, recommend tools, and share moments of catharsis. Everyone spoke about the challenges, complex situations, and the moral and ethical implications of archival work, which made me feel less alone as a new professional in the field.

In addition to sharing honestly and openly about my experiences, I was able to expand my knowledge by attending various sessions across numerous topics. From accessibility issues, to project management, to the power of community archives, I was able to learn both practical tools and be inspired by the work of others. Archivists from across the Midwest were eager to ask difficult questions and seemed willing to sit with the uncomfortable in order to welcome change within a profession rooted in colonial ideals.

One particularly impactful session was Deep Processing: Emotional Labor in the Archives, bringing the archivists back into focus and addressing the emotionally difficult situations we all find ourselves in, but that often go unnoticed. Each and every conversation stressed the idea that while archivists do important work to uplift and serve our communities, we must also advocate for community care if we want to continue to do the work we love. I walked away from MAC with a notebook filled with ideas, thoroughly inspired by my peers, and determined to push forward when I got back to my institution. 

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