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Penn Libraries presents

A Symposium on Preserving Contemporary Cultural Heritage

  • Schedule
A collage of contemporary cultural heritage materials.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The University of Pennsylvania Libraries is pleased to announce a Symposium on Preserving Contemporary Cultural Heritage on Wednesday, October 16, 2019. This one-day symposium will focus on cross-institutional collaboration to collect and preserve contemporary cultural heritage materials in a research library setting. 

The symposium will feature three compelling speakers on this broad, but important, topic: Mary Rader (University of Texas - Austin), Bergis Jules (Shift Design), and Matthew Kirschenbaum (University of Maryland). After each of their presentations, there will be a panel of staff from Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation (Brown, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Penn, Princeton, Stanford, Yale) discussing the opportunities and challenges to collaboratively implement some of the ideas inspired by each speaker.

The program will begin Wednesday morning, October 16th, 2019, at the Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion at the Kislak Center of Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania. For information about location and accessibility, please read the Penn Libraries' overview of the Orrery Pavilion.

This symposium is supported in part by the Thomas Sovereign Gates Library Lecture Fund.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

  • Registration and welcome

    9:30 Registration opens

    Light breakfast, coffee, tea

    10:30 Welcome and opening remarks

    Constantia Constantinou, H. Carton Rogers III Vice Provost and Director of the Penn Libraries, University of Pennsylvania
  • Speaker sessions and panel discussions

    10:45 Mary Rader, Head, Fine Arts, Humanities and Global Studies Engagement Team, University of Texas at Austin, SACOOP

    Gradual Revolutions: the case of the South Asian Cooperative Collection Development Workshops

    11:30  Panel discussion

    Moderator: Brian Vivier (Penn)
    Panelists: Holly Ackerman (Duke), Ellen Ambrosone (Princeton), Ian Bogus (Research Collections and Preservation Consortium), Jef Pierce (Penn)

    12:00  Lunch on one's own

    1:30 Bergis Jules, Director of Equity Initiatives, Shift Design

    The Community is the Archive: Mapping a Sustainable and Equitable Future for Community-Based Archives

    2:15 Panel discussion

    Moderator: Samantha Abrams (Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation)
    Panelists: Amanda Strauss (Brown), Dave Hansen (Duke), Molly Des Jardin (Penn), Pamela Graham (Columbia)

    2:45  Coffee and tea break

    3:15  Matthew Kirschenbaum, Professor of English and Digital Studies at the University of Maryland, and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies, University of Maryland

    The Future of the History of the Book

    4:00  Panel discussion

    Moderator: Galadriel Chilton (Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation)
    Panelists: Anna Levine (Penn), Emilie Hardman (MIT), Sean Quimby (Columbia)
  • Evening reception

    4:30 Closing remarks

    Brigitte Weinsteiger, Associate University Librarian for Collections, University of Pennsylvania

    4:45  Cocktail reception


Participants & abstracts

Bergis Jules, Shift Design
The Community is the Archive: Mapping a Sustainable and Equitable Future for Community-Based Archives

Bergis is an archivist interested in developing solutions for building capacity and achieving sustainability in community-based cultural heritage organizations that focus on documenting the lives of marginalized people. He is also passionate about incorporating ethics into how we collect and preserve digital content from the web and social media about people that are most vulnerable to harm in those spaces.

Bergis will be discussing his advocacy work on behalf of community-based archives and sharing strategies for how we can achieve more equitable community/university collaborations in collecting and preserving our shared cultural heritage. His talk will mainly cover his recent work on the Architecting Sustainable Futures symposium and report and on the Documenting the Now project.

Read more about Bergis Jules.


Mary Rader, University of Texas at Austin, SACOOP
Gradual Revolutions: the case of the South Asian Cooperative Collection Development Workshops

The South Asian Cooperative Collection Development Workshops (SACOOP) provide a rich case study for broader cooperative collection debates of efficiency, distinction and access.   This presentation explores how iterative and ongoing collaborative efforts can transform thinking about collection development, about workflow practices, and about the enduring need for interconnecting support.

Mary Rader is the South Asia Librarian and Head of the Arts, Humanities, & Global Studies Engagement Team at the University of Texas at Austin, having held positions previously at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Michigan, and the Chicago Public Library.  Through the years, her work has emphasized the need for collective and collaborative action to solve the challenges of collection breadth, depth and access, particularly in relation to South Asian Studies.

Read more about Mary Rader.

Matthew Kirschenbaum, University of Maryland
The Future of the History of the Book

This talk discusses the prospects for the future (and indeed, the present day) study of books and other artifacts of contemporary culture in the face of the widespread shift to digital content delivery (even a printed book is a digital file before it becomes an object in our hands). The materials which traditionally found their way into the collections of libraries and archives are thus now digital assets stored in digital asset management systems. Drawing from a report recently completed for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the talk addresses challenges and some potential approaches for safeguarding the principle materials of literary studies, the history of the book, and related fields.

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum is Professor in the Department of English at the University of Maryland and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies. He is also an affiliated faculty member with the College of Information Studies at Maryland, and a member of the teaching faculty at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School. His most recent book, Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing, was published by Harvard University Press in 2016; with Pat Harrigan, he also recently co-edited Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming from the MIT Press (2016). Kirschenbaum delivered the 2016 A.S.W. Rosenbach Lectures in Bibliography at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow.

See or follow him on Twitter as @mkirschenbaum for more.



The Study at University City
20 S. 33rd Street (corner of 33rd and Chestnut)
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Cut-off date for reservations: 15 September 2019
Use booking code 5314165.
For other nearby options, please visit the following website. Based upon availability, a Penn discount may be applied if reservations are made via the website.