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Designing the Future of Archival Discovery and Delivery: The Lighting the Way Forum

Lighting the Way: A National Forum on Archival Discovery and Delivery was a national meeting of 70 archives, library, and technology workers held at Stanford University in February 2020. As a part of a project funded by IMLS, the Forum provided an inclusive, practitioner-focused environment for information sharing and collaboration around improving archival discovery and delivery (how people and systems like software, standards, workflows, and forms support finding, accessing, and using material from archives and special collections). The Forum relied on both plenary presentations, and activities drawn from human centered design methodologies and anti-oppressive facilitation frameworks, to address three primary goals: to have participants see, map, and build connections between one another, their work, the systems they rely on, and the communities they serve; to identify and organize around shared opportunities and challenges; and to provide a platform for critical engagement with the project. The Forum was designed recognizing that expertise in archival discovery and delivery work is spread across roles and staff classifications, and that certain participants are often excluded from such conversations. Through the activities, practitioners explored how to surface highly collaborative but often invisible work, how to recognize where they have power, and how to identify concrete actions they can take to help achieve an ethical, equitable, sustainable, and well-integrated future for archival discovery and delivery. Ongoing project activities include a future working meeting to develop a statement of principles for archival discovery and delivery, and written contributions from participants including case studies and position papers.