Archive for April, 2011

What You Can Do to Support a National Diary Archive

April 6, 2011

“What can those of us near you in heart but not geographically do to help?”

One of my readers asked this question and I will try to answer it, based on where the archive is now in its formation progress.

First of all, tell your friends about it, especially those who keep diaries.    You never know what connections might be made. If you teach journal writing, inform your students that there may soon be an archive.  If you keep an on-line diary you could ” blog” about the archive.  Everyone who keeps a journal should think about what will eventually become of them.

Assuming you are a diarist, stipulate in your will that you would like your diaries/journals to be donated to an archive upon your death and include at what point they may be open to the public.   If you wish to protect friends and family who are still living from reading what you truly felt about them, then consider stating how many years the diaries should remain closed.  You might allow staff of the archive to prepare them by transcribing them or digitizing.   You may want them to be available only to those visiting the actual location of the archive and for research purposes.   When an archive is opened in the United States, you could specify that archive in your will.

If you keep a diary/journal, give some thought to organizing and preserving it.  (See my post on that subject: “Now Where Did I Put That?”)  At the very least, put your name in each volume and where it was written.  If possible, create an index for each volume, each year, and the sum total of your work.   This will also make it easier for you to go back and re-read, which is an important benefit of this genre… an opportunity for self-insight and depth.

For all who would like to see a national diary archive I would recommend collecting diaries.  It is an expensive hobby so you might think of asking for “handwritten diaries” as presents, as I did.    Becoming the caretaker and  conservationist of someone else’s work gives you a sense of the importance of your own writing.   It might also show you how to improve your own writing.

If you begin your own collection of handwritten diaries you could transcribe them and put them online, or allow an archive to put them online.  The actual diaries could be kept by you and donated upon your death.

If you live near this archive of the future (Fort Collins, Colorado?) you are more than welcome to volunteer your time.

And, if none of the above works for you, you could always donate money.  So, keep watching our progress.

Progress on National Diary Archive

April 2, 2011

No blogs for some time and not even a single entry in my private journal!  Life has grabbed me by the throat and not let go since my last post.  But there is progress to report:

After my first rejection by the Fort Collins Public Library, I decided to try again.  I was attempting to reserve a room at the library for a free in-depth journal workshop followed by a presentation on the National Diary Archive.  I was told that only non-profit organizations or programs supporting the general purpose of the library could use the rooms.  It seemed to me that journal writing and a diary archive fit that description.  (The archive has not yet become a legal non-profit, although that is the intention.)

On my second try I gently complained that the last two lectures I attended at the library appeared to be by private citizens making a profit on their event.   One was a talk by a local author.  A local bookstore was clearly making money selling her books at a table in the back.  The second lecture was about blogging.  The blogger would not answer my question, instead she handed me her business card and said she was available for consulting for a fee.

I walked a fine line in presenting my case.    I could feel that I was close to stepping on toes but the initial resistance at the front desk gave way and I made it to the next level, and from there, on to the top administrator, who actually was interested, even excited, by the idea of an archive.

So, on April 10th I will be giving my first presentation in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Although my city is proud of being consistently named one of the top ten cities in America, I remember the days when it would not suffer a coffee shop to live. The attitude was that a coffee house was a place akin to an opium den.  We’ve come a long way, baby, as now there’s a coffee house or petit drive-through dispensary on every corner…and for other things as well.

Since 1983, Fort Collins has killed 14 used or new bookstores, including mine. And although the main newspaper has no interest in a story about the archive, nor the higher quality “local news” paper which specializes in human interest stories, I still have a modicum of hope that this idea might someday thrive here.   Perfect climate, low threat of natural disaster, easy access, and situated in the heart of the country.

Truly, I haven’t tapped but the surface of the possibilities here.  The support may need to be on the national level but the team for the non-profit needs to be local.  Already I have found someone who has taught journal writing for many years.  I am searching for others wishing to get involved.


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