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PACSCL Celebrates 30 Years!

by Beth Lander, Managing Director

It’s been almost three weeks since PACSCL celebrated its 30th anniversary in conjunction with its Annual General meeting. As I sift through everything from the anniversary, something that Celia Caust-Ellenbogen said to me a few days ago sticks with me:  The best part of PACSCL is the people. 

As Jim Green, Librarian Emeritus at The Library Company of Philadelphia, told partygoers, PACSCL began in 1985 as an informal gathering of five people who wanted to put on a show – and what a show Legacies of Genius was.  PACSCL is now a consortium of 35 institutions with a combined staff of over 200 people, people who represent the widest variety of professional skills, experience, and knowledge imaginable. 

Some of us in that group of 200 are getting a bit long in the tooth (guilty), while others are champing at the bit to push our profession to change, to push PACSCL to change.  Caitlin Goodman of Swarthmore College, speaking at the AGM, exquisitely called out the challenges of precarious work and the plague of “doing more with less” that hampers all we do.  Caitlin called on people who are animated by the efforts made to make our work and use of our collections more equitable to use the relationships within PACSCL to do so. 

Nancy Loi of the Rosenbach Museum & Library shared hopes and dreams for PACSCL’s future, hopes that could gird the work suggested by Caitlin.  Nancy, as a young professional, noted the efforts required to become a part of the profession, and argued that we need to provide opportunities for new staff as we build retention and advancement intentionally.  We need to encourage diverse folks to enter this profession, reduce precarity, and do more with more. 

The people who make up this community are, indeed, the best part of PACSCL.  The push and pull of growth and change is not always easy. But as Eric Pumroy, who retired last year from Bryn Mawr College, said, “PACSCL has survived and thrived because when we work together, we can do great things for ourselves [and] for the people who use our collections…”