School of Information Sciences

Archival Education and Research Institute (AERI) a success


The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences (iSchool) hosted the sixth annual Archival Education and Research Institute (AERI) from Sunday, July 13 through Friday, July 18. AERI provides a dynamic venue for archival researchers and teachers to interact in an intensive, collegial collaborative environment. Topics from the 2014 Institute ranged from the grand challenges facing the field and diversity issues to finding happiness with a PhD and the future of higher education and universities.

The conference began with an opening reception sponsored by Pitt’s University Library System where attendees gathered to socialize after an intense day of plenaries, paper sessions, and workshops. More than 100 students and faculty from 11 countries attended the conference and presented on topics such as web infrastructures, archival representation, open government, material culture and archives, scholarly publishing, archival access, information culture and social justice.

iSchool Dean Ronald L. Larsen gave the closing plenary session, “Think Like an Economist…Then What?,” where he advanced “a broader mandate for ‘archivists.’” During the session, Larsen discussed a number of trends that clearly signal data management and information management have become increasingly important to both industry and the scientific community. He charged AERI participants to reflect on how to interpret what they do as relevant to a larger audience and stressed the need for a “new lexicon” that will bridge the gap between traditional archival techniques and industry demands.

Pitt professor Kirk Savage delivered the inaugural lecture of the Bernadette Callery Archives Lecture Series on Thursday, July 17. The lecture series honors the memory of Dr. Bernadette Callery, a member of the iSchool faculty who taught in the Archives specialization in the Library and Information Sciences program. Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Callery was Museum Librarian at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Before her death, Dr. Callery thoughtfully established this lecture, which was funded through a generous bequest.

Other conference activities included a student poster competition, generously sponsored by Dean Larsen, mentoring dinners for student and faculty groups, and field trips to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Preservation Technologies, and Pitt’s Archives Service Center. At the poster competition, Sumayya Ahemed (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) received first prize for “The Hassan II Prize for Manuscripts and Archival Documents: The Tension Between Archival Disclosure and National Heritage in Morocco;” Belinda Battley (Monash University) and Kathy Carbone (University of California, Los Angeles) received second and third prizes, respectively.

Conference organizer Professor Richard Cox said of this year’s institute, “This was an especially successful AERI, bringing together a remarkably diverse and international community to consider the nature of the archival mission in today’s increasingly complex world. It was also an important meeting as we acknowledged the students completing doctoral programs, new faculty hires, and academic promotions – all suggesting the great progress made in both archival research and education.”

Funded by two four-year grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), annual week-long Archival Education and Research Institutes are hosted by partner institutions. Past Institutes were held at the University of California, Los Angeles (2009), the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2010), Simmons College (2011), UCLA (2012), and the University of Texas at Austin (2013). Institutes are designed to strengthen education and research and support academic cohort-building and mentoring. Institutes are open to all academic faculty and doctoral students working in Archival Studies, both nationally and internationally. AERI 2014 was generously sponsored by IMLS, Preservation Technologies, the iSchool at Pitt, and the University of Pittsburgh Library System. Learn more about AERI 2014.


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