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ARChives: Exploring the Community Archives of Canadian Artist-run Centres Open Access


Other title
community archives
artist-run centres
digital archiving
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lucky, Shannon J
Supervisor and department
Mackey, Margaret (Library and Information Studies)
Gouglas, Sean (Humanities Computing)
Examining committee member and department
Rathi, Dinesh (Library and Information Studies)
Smallwood, Scott (Humanities Computing)
Gouglas, Sean (Humanities Computing)
Mackey, Margaret (Library and Information Studies)
School of Library and Information Studies
Humanities Computing

Date accepted
Graduation date
2016-06:Fall 2016
Master of Arts/Master of Library and Information Studies
Degree level
Artist-run centres (ARCs) are important cultural institutions and their archives form a unique record of artist-run culture and contemporary art in Canada. With mandates focusing on supporting new and experimental work, ARCs have not traditionally been records custodians; however the value of their collections and the growing need to preserve and make them accessible is undeniable. Considering the growing obsolescence of analogue media formats, the fragility of digital files, and the size of their collections, ARCs cannot delay planning for the preservation and use of their records or the task will outpace their capacity. This thesis investigates ARC archives by analyzing interviews with the directors of nine ARCs in Saskatchewan and Alberta, along with their online and physical archives, to identify the collection types, practices, and intentions of this rarely studied group. Applying theory and practice from the community archives literature, this thesis also identifies barriers ARCs face in making their archives accessible and proposes digital and collaborative solutions that fit with the organizational and operational culture of these non-profit, artist-run communities. Although robust, accessible digital archives are rare among the ARCs in this study, ARC directors express a growing interest in digital preservation and exposing their collections. This interest is attributable to a confluence of organizational age, a critical mass of records, and increasingly accessible technological solutions. Collaborations with established partner institutions, using a postcustodial model, is a solution that addresses many of the challenges ARCs face in managing their archives while staying true to their artist-run roots. These findings are specifically applicable to ARCs, but have implications for the preservation and access of cultural collections from similar community archives.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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