Library Archives Team Awarded 2020-2021 Outstanding Team Award

May 3, 2021

The Kathryn A. Martin Library Archives team was named Outstanding Team for 2020-2021.

The Library Archives team, Aimee Brown and Shana Aue, were nominated and selected for the Outstanding Team Award for their work with the COVID-19 Northeastern Minnesota Community Archive Project, a project started in the early days of the pandemic in the US.  As their nomination notes: 

They navigated copyright and intellectual property considerations, adapted digital tools to support the collection and preservation of artifacts, and continually found ways throughout the year to encourage contributions and develop the archive to truly reflect our community. While many archives are working to document the pandemic, this team’s work is distinguished by its comprehensive and inclusive model of digital archiving. Currently, the project hosts more than 850 items, which will forever enable researchers to study and learn about our community in this most historic period of time. 

The Outstanding Team Award is designed to “recognize individual employees or work teams who have implemented a special project during the year in supporting the mission of the campus/unit and have significantly enhanced departmental, collegiate, or campus goals and objectives.”  (The campus’ values are: learning, discovery, engagement, inclusiveness, sustainability, innovation, integrity, and excellence.) Nominations for this award should be reflective of one or more of the values from the strategic plan.

In 2020 Brown and Aue also began working in partnership with CLA professors David Beard and Devaleena Das on a National Endowment for the Arts Grant project. The project titled Stories of Wisdom from Bodies in Separation (SWaBS) aims to “document and archive how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people and organizations, “ as noted in their nomination:

“The team partnered with CLA faculty for the NEH/CARES grant-funded Stories of Wisdom from Bodies in Separation (SWaBS) project which sought to “help to combat the ‘infodemic,’ the deluge of information, misinformation, and conspiracy theories” associated with COVID-19. This project resulted in 110 oral history interviews completed by 14 humanities professionals who lost income in the pandemic, 10 creative projects completed by interviewers, a Tweed Museum of Art exhibit, and a website/digital exhibition. The team’s inclusion efforts will result in a record of the pandemic that highlights diverse voices and experiences, and can be accessed by anyone, anywhere.” 

While the NEH grant is collaborative in nature, the nomination noted: “At the center of this work was Shana Aue, and at her side was Aimee Brown.  Without them, the coordination, preservation, and dissemination missions of this NEH grant would have been impossible.” 

Their nomination also spoke to the inclusive nature of the project: 

The project is intentionally inclusive: anyone can contribute by submitting materials online, and materials are freely available to access. Archives staff took their inclusion efforts further by reaching out to organizations and individuals to solicit contributions”

Brown and Aue’s project is ongoing and will be a capsule of information to look back on when considering the pandemic and its impacts on the community:

“By preserving this content and making it easily accessible online, archives staff have enabled current and future community members, including future historians and researchers, to discover how individuals and organizations in Northeastern Minnesota experienced the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

As noted in their nomination, this project is the team’s first community archive project and first major digital collecting effort.