This Month from the Archives

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Established in 2000, the UCIMC was one of the earliest nodes in the Indymedia network, representing an anti-globalist and anti-corporate agenda. With the motto “don’t hate the media, be the media,” along with tools, training, and support, Indymedia encourages citizen journalists to amplify issues, ideas, and opinions underrepresented in the mainstream media. Documentary production is the lifeblood powering the UCIMC and assumes a multitude of forms, including radio programming, news articles, artwork, and materials produced by and for social justice happenings.

The radical librarians and anarchist archivist collective, one of the first formal projects established at the UCIMC, subscribes to the notion that libraries and archives are tools for liberation. Historically, a majority of the members of this collective have been undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Illinois, with contributions from area high school students and community members. Over the years, the collective created documentation about and access to materials produced by and for the UCIMC community.

In August, 2018, Kathryn La Barre and Courtney Richardson embarked on a project to collect core archival materials and make them accessible in a dedicated space in time for our 20th Anniversary celebrations. Our rich heritage includes blueprints; art and artifacts; local zines and newspapers, including a full physical run of the Public i; photographs and sheet music; personal papers, contracts, and other project materials; media in multiple formats from radio and video productions, including two hard drives; and other ephemera, including protest signs, patches, pins, and flyers.

We decided to create a logo and new name, with Richardson taking the lead on this phase of the project. The name, openED archive, represents and amplifies our intention to support multiple states of openness. Being open is a gesture of willingness. It calls for and initiates collaborative work, communication, and, most importantly, fresh interaction with unfamiliar and/or too familiar (historically and deeply situated) subjects, persons, and things. Being open is a labor of social change, as it is intentional and continual work towards collective growth and empathy. Being open requires being accessible for interaction and even disruption. It is a lively space where roles of giver, receiver, and stirrer are activated by and interchanged between persons at any given time.

By entering and residing in the openED archive, we hope for people to openly engage with the physical space, collections, and other knowledges as well as their own. “ED” is capitalized in the word “opened,” to underline this engagement, liveliness, and multiple nature of the archive. It signifies the educational goal of the archive to function as a place of continual learning. In this time of local, national, and global crises, Indymedia and the UCIMC have critically important roles to play. We hope you’ll pay a visit the archive, now located adjacent to the main office on the first floor of the UCIMC.

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