Group Plenary

The final plenary session of Failure in the Archives will draw from the un-conference format.  An ‘Un-conference’ is a chance for participants to set the agenda for discussion. It is ‘self organizing‘, rather than the typical ‘conference’ structure which predetermines the content of panels with pre-screened speakers and paper topics. ‘Pitches’ are ideas proposed by participants which are collectively voted on, where anyone can participate. They can be submitted on this page in the lead up to the conference, or if you prefer, on the morning of the conference.

The primary goal of Failure in the Archives is to address silences, gaps, and missteps we risk as researchers and guardians of archival materials. Related to that goal, such a conference seeks to address its own failures, silences, gaps, and missteps. The final plenary, in its un-conference format, will be a chance to do just that – to reflect, project into the future, and cover new ground.

Here’s how it works:

Excerpted from “Museums and the Web”:.

  • a pitch is succinct – it can take no more than 3 minutes to express, ideally less.
  • your pitch should persuade the attendees to want to discuss it further  – open questions are much more inviting than your answers

Things to remember about pitching – un-conference sessions are:

  • topical and current – breaking news and emerging issues are the most engaging
  • informal and conversational – this is not the place to give the paper you forgot to propose
  • distinct from things going on elsewhere on the program – don’t trump your presentation later in the week by pitching the same thing here

At tea breaks lunchtime, we’ll listen to all of the pitches together, and assign discussion spaces based on a ‘show of hands’ indicating interest. But this space is for aggregating pitches you might want to propose in the lead up to the conference.


Please fill out the following form to submit your pitch:



1. Title: Teaching Failure

Proposed By: Brooke Palmieri

Overview: This panel will focus on the practicalities of bringing the topics discussed in ‘Failure in the Archives’ to the classroom. How do we introduce the concept of failure, silence, and even destructive tendencies within libraries and archives to students? How do we address gaps found in the curriculum? What resources and object lessons are best suited to communicating our complex relationship with the archive?


2. Title: Digital Disasters and Missteps

Proposed by: Christine Contrada
Overview: As more and more archives are digitizing key collections the dynamics of archival research are rapidly shifting in dramatic and fundamental ways. As many of us are increasingly being directed to computers and away from handling manuscripts does the mean that the golden age of archival scholarship is a thing of the past? What disasters and missteps are being minimized or exacerbated by this new digital access? How will digitization shape future scholarship and the relationship between scholars and the archives?