Saturday, October 27, 2012

ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives

I went today to visit to ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles.
 A huge display of ONE magazines.
 Their button collection of gay bike gangs, which were apparently popular.
 Similar to how the CLGA has art on the walls, they had various exhibitions up in unused wall space.

 This was part of an exhibition on ACT-UP L.A.
 A photo of a "die-in" event.
 This is there volunteer desk.  They said they have three full time staff, two are archivists.  They said they partnered with a local university which provides them the space and one of the staff members.  Another staff member is from a private corporation's sponsorship.
 This is the cage into their library which I thought was cool.  The books on the shelf outside are their dupes, selling for $5 hardcover and $2 softcover.
One thing he said is about 1/4 of the books on their shelves have yet to be cataloged as they only have 20 volunteers to run the whole thing. Thank Gerry King we don't have that problem.
We discussed succession planning and the man giving me the tour mentioned the lack of volunteering spirit in modern times.  I suggested each person's job would have to be broken down, especially at first, and the work of a 20 year volunteer could perhaps be taken over by five or six new volunteers.
This is their reading room and work area. They said they accept donations, the Advocate gives them some items, and they have a very small budget to buy items, about $3,000 a year.
Their books are all organized by author or subject on books about someone. Fiction and non-fiction together. They are currently in the process of cleaning up the collection, they had been keeping every edition of every book and no longer have room to do so.  So for example, the hardcover version is staying, the softcover is going. As they have partnered with the University, they give some books to them, some get sold at the archives, and some get sold online for which they receive a percentage of profits.
 I LOVED this idea.  These are their vertical files and on the outside they have hung duplicate material or photocopies of a couple of the interesting pieces inside each section.  They said this really helps with tours, rather than say "These are boxes of papers", you can show people an example of what is inside.  For example, in this photo is a letter from the FBI files received under the freedom of information act on the ONE organization from the 1950's.  This is notes the FBI kept on the group's activities. The first copy they got almost everything was redacted, the second copy obtained more recently just mostly redacted.
 Collections of papers.
 Magazines, again with issues out front for showing off during tours.  They're all duplicate material so they can be messed up or flipped through.
 I loved this idea too, on the front of the building they have sold bricks to donors and put their names on them in gold.  An innovative fundraiser that lets people see their donation at work.
 The main public service desk.  There is room for more volunteers in back and offices upstairs.
They gave me a bunch of material to bring back and were very warm and accommodating. 
They have a separate space for exhibitions across town in West Hollywood so this is primarily a research centre.  The man giving the tour advised they do keep lesbian material but that there is also a separate lesbian archives across town.
It was interesting to compare their archives to the CLGA.  They had some great new ideas, for example a book was recently written using their material and the author hosted an event with actors reenacting scenes from the book and they charged $50 a head.  I loved the gold brick idea, the items on display at the end of the racks, and a separate display with books written from their material, which I also thought was a great idea, showing the value of their organization. Also their partnership with the University has secured their long term future.
We discussed common problems, duplicate materials, aging of volunteers, lack of space as the amount of LGBT material has grown exponentially.
The CLGA is also doing several things correctly though, with a large active volunteer base, up to date cataloging and committees such as community engagement.
It was great to be able to talk with them and tour their facility and to be able to share ideas with a common goal.

1 comment:

Robert Windrum said...

728Adam, thanks so much for this virtual tour. They are definitely a kindred spirit out there and we have a lot to learn from each other! Hope to see it firsthand myself sometime. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

Robert Windrum