Just published: Final report of the Lighting the Way project

Logo for the Lighting the Way project

The Lighting the Way project team is pleased to announce the publication of Facilitating and Illuminating Emergent Futures for Archival Discovery and Delivery: The Final Report of the Lighting the Way Project.  Lighting the Way focused on exploring how networks of people and technology impact archival discovery and delivery (how people find, access, and use material from archives and special collections) and focused on engaging directly with practitioners – archives, library, and technology workers – involved in this work, across roles, job functions, areas of expertise, and levels of positional power. Through a series of in-person and virtual events, the project applied participatory, generative facilitation methods to allow participants to develop future-oriented visions of how to transform archival delivery while also bringing their own experience to bear. The final report is available through the Stanford Digital Repository at its DOI (doi:10.25740/jm302fq5311) and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The final report, written by Dinah Handel and M.A. Matienzo towards the project's conclusion, summarizes the project's goals, objectives, and activities across its two-year term, and synthesizes lessons learned about undertaking strategic work around archival discovery and delivery. These insights resonate with larger professional trends in archives and special collections, and include the following:

  1. Viewing archival discovery as an ecosystem of systems and people;
  2. The interconnection between collaboration, power, and organizational positioning of this work;
  3. The value of care-focused, generative facilitation methods to strategic planning for archival programs; and
  4. The importance of early-stage collaboration and communities of practice to support similar efforts.

With these insights in mind, the project team provides a set of four recommendations to sustain the work undertaken by the Lighting the Way project and to inform the evolution of archival discovery and delivery that require investment and practitioners to step into leadership roles:

  1. Develop new communities of practice that work in alignment with existing ones;
  2. Prioritize collaborative opportunities for strategy that explore new working relationships;
  3. Adopt and apply generative and care-focused facilitation methods to inform strategic planning; and
  4. Understand the resourcing required and value the labor necessary to undertake strategic opportunities.

The project team plans to support these areas through potential areas of future work, including reading groups for The Lighting the Way Handbook, creation of new communities of practice to support technology strategy and archives and facilitation, and additional publication and workshops on generative facilitation methods. We welcome hearing about your interest in potentially participating or contributing to these activities, so please contact us if you are interested.

More information on Lighting the Way can be found on the newly updated project website. If you have any questions or feedback about the final report or the project, please contact the project team at lighting-the-way-team@lists.stanford.edu, or M.A. Matienzo, Project Director, at matienzo@stanford.edu.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, through grant LG-35-19-0012-19. The IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov.