Thursday, June 28, 2007

Juneau rocks! ... and, oh yeah, minimal processing

Omigod, can you believe these flowers? After more than 30 years in Alaska, I finally got to go to Juneau. I was so excited that, my first morning there, I grabbed my camera, blew right out the hotel door and headed straight uphill! Forget breakfast! And these flowers were the first of many things that brought me to a screeching halt.

I love the gardens and the flowers. I love the quirky little houses that cling to the side of the mountain, with their bright paint and crazy colors. I love how the rain clouds press down on the mountain tops and shroud the evergreens in mist and fog. I love how the light on a rainy day makes all the colors pop and glow.

I was there for a workshop on what is a controversial, and maybe even revolutionary, new paradigm in archival practice dubbed MPLP for "more product, less processing," or, more succinctly, "minimal processing." Well, okay, I admit that using the words "controversial" and "revolutionary" in reference to anything having to do with archives and archivists is really pretty funny. But the suggestion that we ought to do less than organize and describe our holdings right down to the last piece of correspondence, and, even worse, leave them in their original folders with all those rusty paperclips, has left some of us pale and faint. Not a pretty sight, all us compulsive organizers reeling dangerously over our tidy boxes of diaries and correspondence! So really, between seeing Juneau for the first time and experiencing a heady whiff of revolution, I had quite an exciting three days.

While I was being a tourist, I visited the state capitol. Which is not like anybody else's capitol, thank you very much! It's ours and it's unique. No fancy dome, no park like setting. It sits right there on the street, all square and brick and understated. Not that it isn't all fitted out with marble columns, dark wood and shiny brass, but in a most dignified and businesslike manner. I was strangely and embarrassingly moved by it. The "Alaska Flag Song" ran through my head for the rest of the day.

Other Juneau adventures: a drive to Douglas Island and a walk through an alpine bog; first encounter with an actual cruise ship - good god, they block out the sun and are the size of small Hawaiian islands - the horror, the horror; street vender food - yum; a public library perched over a parking garage; the Douglas small boat harbor; Mendenhall Glacier.

Did I say how much I love Juneau?

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