Really! I did!
And it’s not just because it was a few hours out of the house, away from the kids, and I got to be an adult pretending to have some relevance in the professional world — I actually enjoyed myself.
Saturday, April 22, 2017, was the final day of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference’s spring meeting. It was my first MARAC gathering and MARAC’s first gathering in Newark. It was kismet, I tell ya.
Here are four reasons why I had fun:
1. Newark is nice. I live in New Jersey, I know Newark, I know what it’s been through, going through, and where it wants to be. It’s getting there. It’s nice to see events like MARAC come through and for people from outside the area to see that Newark’s not just a shitty airport town. One of the event organizers proclaimed something akin to “Newark: Who knew?!”
2. I got swag. Not the copious amount of swag one would get roaming the cavernous vendor hall at SAA, but a hearty amount of local brochures…
… the requisite archival supply catalog…
… and two of the best freebies an archivist can get: measuring tape and a little flashlight.
3. There was food. The registration table had mini candy bars, bags of chips, and boxes of Italian butter cookies. The break involved coffee, muffins, granola bars, and frosted dessert things. Sugar and caffeine. Sugar and caffeine.
And the night before, there was this:
Free food and drink are the way to my heart. MARAC, I love you.
Speaking of food, Newark has a lot of it. And the organizers made a “Finding Dining Aid.” Seriously. A proper finding aid.
Holy shit. MARAC. I fucking LOVE you. My blog is called “Finding Aid.” I occasionally write about them. You made a finding aid for local food. How could I not? Fucking LOVE you.
4. The sessions. I attended the business meeting (which involved a minor running joke about horseradish… I have no idea) and two sessions. The first one, Session 17 “Learning to Make Lemonade: Transforming Obstacles Into Opportunities,” was very enjoyable. I liked hearing about triage at the Historical Society of Haddonfield, learning about the breadth of the collection at the American Jewish Historical Society, and finding out that the archivist at the Junior League and I went to the same archival education program.
I considered going to Session 24 “When Records Leave Home: Turning the Institutional Archive Outwards,” but as I waited on line for a cup of coffee during the break, I noticed “New Brunswick Music Scene” was just a few feet away. Why not sit in on that one?
So glad that I did.
Did you know New Brunswick had a music scene? I’m from New York City. We had CBGB and underground clubs of our own. I’m from the same borough as The Ramones. What the hell do I know about Jersey music? The Stone Pony, Springsteen, and Bon Jovi. That’s it, right?
There is just so much — both the scene and the collection that’s grown from it — that I can’t do it any justice. Check out the New Brunswick Music Scene Archive tumblr, this article from American Libraries, and this podcast on the New Brunswick Music Scene Symposium. Really cool stuff.
My big takeaway from this session was: Punk isn’t dead. It grew up, put everything into big Rubbermaid bins, went to grad school, and started archives to save Punk using stuff from those Rubbermaid bins.
And then there was the Q & A. The audience, which skewed heavily toward the middle of middle age, seemed to mostly consist of former punks and rockers. Like, they knew the bands and artists and bars and basement parties BECAUSE THEY WERE THERE.