This is gut-wrenching to see. The Association for Cultural Equity, custodians of the Alan Lomax Archive, is in the process of selling off portions of their collection on Ebay. In the words of the seller’s site:
“Lomax established the Association for Cultural Equity in Hunter College’s MFA building on Manhattan’s West Side in 1983. For nearly thirty years, ACE has, in this space, overseen the Alan Lomax Archive: an immense collection of tape and film reels, photographs, research materials, and equipment amassed over the course of Lomax’s 50 years in “the field.”
Hunter College, however, has decided to close our building, and ACE is relocating and downsizing. We simply can’t bring everything with us. We’re auctioning records, photographs, audio and film equipment, and other items from Alan Lomax’s archive, in the hopes that they will be of use and inspiration to similarly minded institutions and individuals.”
I can’t imagine what a heartbreaking decision it must have been for the individuals who have worked so long and so hard to protect, interpret, and make accessible these collections. It’s a collections management Sophie’s choice - what do you save? What goes? How do you know that Ebay will help you find suitable homes for your materials? Does this move actually guarantee that the collections that you’ve saved will be safe? Once those items leave their care, it’s truly anyone’s guess what will happen to them. It also seems to be the case that once you’ve been forced into accepting drastic measures, it becomes a situation of giving an inch and administration taking a mile.
Here’s hoping that things will normalize for the ACE after their move, and that things slowly begin to improve.