LGBTI ALMS, Amsterdam, 2012: Day 1

First day of the conference, and the opening icebreaker was done by a Australian Ex-Pat who has lived in Holland for 30+ years, yet still sounded as Aussie as myself or the four outher Australians that are here (two from the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives, an ex-pat living in Berlin, and someone else I have not met yet).

Something I found most interesting was IHLIA’s Pink Shelves Project, which separates LGBTI titles from the main collection, and grouping them together for ease of access. While I have always advocated for genre labels to increase visibility, typically I recommend against separation, yet here, the program has been hugely popular, and has seen an increase in borrowing.

One of the more interesting things said today came from Fonds Suzan Daniel, in Belgium, who are currently focusing on how to catalogue electronic records. Bark Hellinck cited a selection of 3 ¼ inch floppy disks which they cannot use, due to password protection and obsolete software. This is no different to any other library, archive and museum in the world.

I also quite enjoyed how Polish curator Pawel Hellinck spoke about how he put together an exhibition in homoerotica in a country known for homophobia. He is currently trying to establish a permanent archive in Poland.

Another common theme between the different archives is location. Many have no permanent or guaranteed home, including I believe, Australia. In France, they have no building, yet there is a political movement that advocates for the use of only professional (no volunteers) within the archives, and that an archivist of Vietnamese decent should not be part of the French organisation.

The other topic which keeps coming up is money. My paper (which I will present on Friday) is on providing services with little or no funding, which is a stark comparison to The Netherlands, where the Government provides EUR300,000 annually for IHLIA. Fonds Suzan Daniel in Belgium get EUR4,000, and the Women’s and Lesbian Archives in Germany are in the process of getting Government funding.

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