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Abstract

Following her experience of the Virginia Tech campus shooting in 2007, filmmaker and librarian Ashley Maynor set out to explore the phenomenon of temporary memorials and so-called “grief archives” using both documentary filmmaking and other qualitative research methods. She subsequently published her findings about Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and other public tragedies as Response to the Unthinkable: Collecting & Archiving Condolence & Temporary Memorial Materials Following Public Tragedies, to help fill a large gap in LIS literature about the best practices for libraries in responding to crises in their communities.

In the years since, her opinions and perspective on archiving the aftermath have been both reinforced and profoundly changed by subsequent tragedies and their influence on our culture and our archival practice. In this work of autoethnography, Maynor weaves her personal experience and methodological research into an essay that argues for more flexibility and less rigidity about any role or responsibility of an archive, library, or individual when a tragedy takes place in their community.

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