Live blogging at ACRL2009

OK.  This is the first time I ever have attempted to live blog a conference session, but with my new net book and the short commute,  I suppose the conditions are as favorable they’ll ever be for this experiment.  Even so, I feel as if my leg is starting to cramp up holding my tiny (2.8 pound) computer on my lap.  But that’s enough about me.

I am waiting for the last session in the contributed papers time slot to begin on the next to last day of the 2009 ACRL conference in Seattle. The paper I am waiting for, “From Babine to Yakima: Academic Libraries and Endangered Language Preservation”  will be given by Gabriella Reznowski of Washington State University.  This is the first session at the ACRL conference I have encountered with a direct Pacific Northwest Collection interest (although perhaps my colleagues have discovered others).  OK, it’s starting now:

WSU does not have a formal Linguistics department.  Reznowski came upon this role by accident through a weeding project which first opened up endangered languages as a topic of interest to her.

Spoken Here was one of the first books she encountered that really grabbed her interest.  She makes the great point that passion may be more important than expertise as a starting point in becoming an advocate for language preservation/reclamation.

She next cites  When Languages Die as having identified the Pacific Northwest as a hot spot of language diversity.  54 language units identified; 9 extinct languages.  Which institutions hold materials in these languages?

How well are these languages documented?  Linguists developed a rating system.

Communities are taking steps to do more than document their language, but to keep it alive.  What role should holding institutions play in supporting these efforts?  Libraries should not underestimate their usefulness as collaborators in language revitalization projects.

She has been trying to contact communities actively engaged in creating tools to preserve the language (for example, grammars, textbooks, recordings, dual language materials) and explored the Breath of Life workshops, pioneered by UC-Berkeley (but also presented at the UW).

The one endangered Pacific Northwest language taught at WSU is Nez Perce.  Because enrollment is not robust, a lack of support is perceived.  WSU developed a film series on endangered languages, a wiki to promote language material, class visits, and collaborate dwith faculty to develop workshops in the archives similar to the “Breath of Life” model.  The WSU archivist (sorry, didn’t get her name) also has been particularly helpful and has encouraged investigation of the materials in WSU special collections.

Types of materials: missionary dictionaries, sound recordings by elders, ethnomusicology collections, storybooks, religious materials, grammars, dictionaries.  Online dissemination of language materials requires consultation with the communities involved.

Other institutions with significant collections:  Evergreen State College.

What’s next?

Develop a collections document for the Pacific Northwest, based on the Yinka Dene Language Institute model.

  • Continue with online dissemination.
  • Continue workshops along the “Breath of Life” model.
  • Seek further opportunities for collaboration with campus language classes.

Excellent presentation.   WSU is clearly lucky to have a language librarian with Ms. Reznowski’s commitment.

(Note:  Perfectionist that I am I tried to clean this up as best I could after the conference, although all in all, my spelling wasn’t too bad)


Published by


I joined The Shubert Archive as Processing Archivist in 2015, having worked previously at numerous archives and special collections, including the University of Washington, New York Public Library, King County Archives, and New York University. I earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Hunter College, City University of New York and an M.L.I.S. from the Palmer School of Library & Information Science, Long Island University. I have been a Certified Archivist since 2005. Throughout my career, I have been active professionally and held several leadership roles. Among my favorites are: Dance Librarians Discussion Group convener and editor of the newsletter of the Performing Arts Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists. I also was involved with the American Theatre Archive Project, a national grassroots initiative dedicated to assisting active performing arts companies with the preservation of their legacy. In addition, I have significant experience as a freelance archival consultant.

2 thoughts on “Live blogging at ACRL2009”

  1. I also attended this presentation and left wondering how we could work with WSU in this area. We have lots of related material in Special Collections–it would be great to come up with a joint project…..

    1. It probably would be good to discuss it with Laurel Sercombe of the Ethnomusicology Archives (and, of course, Gary and Carla), who worked on the “Breath of Life” program held at the UW.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s