Drive_me_crazy_poster Shes_All_That

In broad strokes, these two movies (and institutions) are the same. Prom is coming, and the cool kid needs a date, fast! The perfect prom date is hiding in plain sight, disguised as (*gasp*) an asocial dork. The ensuing makeover makes everyone truly notice and appreciate the prom date for who he or she truly is. High school love ensues. The end.

In Drive Me Crazy, the cool kid knows the perfect prom date – he’s her next door neighbor. In fact, everyone at school knows him, but they mostly ignore him. His few friends are loyal, but they too are ignored by the rest of the student body. He’s a great guy, just not cool. There are barriers to getting to know this guy, but those barriers are not insurmountable. Really, a haircut and a slight attitude change does the trick.

Similarly, everyone knows about the library. It’s in your neighborhood, with a big sign on the building. There are a core group of enthusiastic library patrons, but there are also a great many people who ignore the library. The library does not compel you to visit it (physically or virtually). And even if you do walk into a branch, there are barriers to access – but those barriers are not insurmountable. Really, a “Kindness Audit” would go a long way towards increasing access.

In She’s All That, the cool kid knows that he wants the perfect prom date, but he has no idea that she exists. He casts out randomly, and finds the perfect date by chance only. Even then, he doesn’t know that his search was successful. The movie details a painful and complex getting-to-know-you process where the characters nearly quit several times. The only reason this movie has a happy ending is because the characters are unusually persistent.

It’s the same with almost any archives. Researchers often cast out with Google, and find a repository or collection by chance. Archival repositories aren’t easy to find (either physically or virtually), and even if you did find one on the street, you can’t just walk in. Those doors are locked and the materials are secure. A haircut and a new outfit aren’t going to dispel these barriers, but at least the makeover could get the archives noticed. And that’s an important beginning.


One thought on “Archives are to She’s All That as Libraries are to Drive Me Crazy

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