The last twenty-five years have brought lively, important, and difficult discussions around heritage collections. We are called to broaden our collecting activities to be more inclusive of (among many things) all races, classes, and experiences. We have begun to move away from the troubled legacy of taking collections away from creators and toward empowering those same creators to steward their heritage. We confront a vast universe of current holdings and possible collections and have few models for assessing the opportunities. We also operate with some firm limitations on our budgets, personnel, and space that we have outdistanced with our collecting. The framework of responsible stewardship suggests that we must stop over-collecting. Broader cultural forces call us to make our collections more diverse and representative. Inevitably, both of these mean that we must stop or de-emphasize some collecting in order to make other types possible. Given that our collecting policies outline both our aspirations and limitations, what have we done or failed to do in terms of tending to the collecting policies that we inherited? How have we changed them–or kept them the same? And, moving forward, how do we go about implementing and making public big shifts in our collecting policies? We consider these questions through four case studies from the University of Oregon, Washington State University, Montana State University, and the Anchorage Museum that consider (respectively) two decades of work with LGBTQ+ and indigenous collections, current and clear changes in who is documented, and considerations of capacity as part of stewardship. First presented at the annual meeting of [organization] in May 2023, the case studies spurred lively conversations and are broadly applicable to archives across the west and beyond.

Author Biography

Jodi Allison-Bunnell is the Head of Archives and Special Collections at the Montana State University Library. She holds an MA and an MLS from the University of Maryland at College Park and a BA summa cum laude from Whitman College. Linda Long is Curator of Manuscripts at the University of Oregon Libraries. She holds a BA in History from Seattle University, an MA in Archives Administration from Case Western Reserve University, and an MLS from Brigham Young University. Trevor James Bond was born in San Diego and graduated from SDSU with a degree in Latin and Greek. He received his Master's in Library and Information Science and a Masters in Ancient History at UCLA. In 2017, he completed a Ph.D. in Public History at Washington State University. Chloe Nielsen is an Archivist at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. She holds an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee and a BA in Art from Reed College. Amy Valentine is a Digitizing Technician at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. She earned a master's certificate in Museology/Museum Studies from the Harvard Extension School and a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Alaska Southeast.

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