The ASA Newsletter
Renewed, inspired, more aware . . . but no easy answers
So many questions, such a short workshop. . . But the good news, in fact the excellent news, is that there were twenty participants from around Alberta and from Manitoba who participated in the special ASA Archival Ethics workshop led by Terry Cook on September 28 and 29 in Banff.
Surrounding the topic by the scholarly and elegant frame of his introductory and concluding remarks, Terry took the whole group through a discussion of case studies on the first day. Our assignment on the second day was to work through the case studies that each participant had crafted in advance. Well, in fact, some individuals brought two case studies.
Through lots of lively discussion we came away knowing that there are no easy answers; if we said that we would talk to our supervisors, Terry would say "you've just been promoted". We also learned that there are no right answers; what might be appropriate under one circumstance would
not apply under another.
It is probably most challenging when one's personal ethics are put into question. Through examples of individuals who made decisions which brought severe consequences to themselves, we learned that there are creative alternatives, that there are others on whom to call for guidance and that there are some stands which must be taken even in the face of those severe consequences.
Renewed, inspired, more aware, I certainly think the two days confirmed my sense that this is a course that is fundamental for everyone working in archives, not just at the beginning of one's career but at anytime, in any position, in any repository.
Special Collections Librarian
University of Calgary Library