Since its beginning, the Archives
has always been completely managed and staffed by volunteers
from the lesbian community. We have never had any paid staff
and have relied solely on volunteers to process all materials,
raise all necessary funds, and literally keep the doors open.
A typical work-evening: sorting, sorting, sorting...
(click to enlarge)
One of our principles is that the
women doing the work of the Archives should make decisions
about the Archives. To that end, a Coordinating Committee
manages the Archives. As the Archives grew from its start
in the back room of an Upper West Side Manhattan apartment
to its present location in a townhouse in Park Slope, Brooklyn,
the concept of the three original coordinators grew to a larger
core group of coordinators. Presently there are about ten
women who form the Coordinating Committee.
Women on the Coordinating Committee have each taken on a specific area
of responsibility to ensure that the Archives continues to run as
smoothly as possible. Coordinators meet every three weeks to discuss
and make decisions on policy, planning, fundraising, arranging special
events, fulfilling speaking requests, and producing our newsletter.
Several other past coordinators continue in various degrees to contribute
their time and skills from their relocations around the country
and the world. Any volunteer who has been participating in the Archives
long enough to be familiar with its collections and policies, and
who is willing to take responsibility for its functioning and continuation,
can join the Coordinating Committee.
Volunteers and interns, as well as coordinators, staff the Archives
several days and evenings each week, keeping the Archives
open for researchers and visitors. We all do the day to
day work of keeping the Archives functioning: filing, cataloging,
clipping newspaper articles and magazines, responding to research
requests and reference questions, arranging and giving tours,
processing special collections, and the myriad of other tasks
that arise from day to day. And, any volunteer, at any time,
may take on a responsibility or special project that interests
them. This can range from filing to gardening or repair work.
It can be a one-day project or one that goes on for months.
Our calendar will not only show the times we are open
(when you can volunteer), but it also shows our special
workdays each month- days when we concentrate on specific
projects. For instance, the Book Project Workday met
once per month for over five years. With a dedicated
core group of seven women plus additional women who
participated on an occasional basis, we processed and
catalogued the Archives’ 11,000 books. We now have a Special
Collections workday with the goal of completely processing
all of our Special Collections and creating finding
aids for all of them as well. We also
have a General Workday during which we take on specific
short-term projects, for e.g. reorganizing and storing
our Special Collections in addition to general filing
and data entry. You can call us for more information
at 718-768-3953. We’ll get back to you to as soon
as possible and discuss how you can contribute to the
Archives’ ongoing work.
We always need and welcome new women to our growing group of Archives’
volunteers. The odds are that you will have an enjoyable time working
with other lesbians on interesting projects such as reviewing lesbian
videos, organizing photos, as well as getting to know first hand the various
collections in the Archives.