After a year of searching through closets, basements, attics, drawers, bookshelves, boxes, and file cabinets to gather together all physical aspects of Libana’s herstory, our mammoth archiving project is in full swing! As of this writing, we are just days away from signing the official papers that will commit our archives to be housed at the venerable Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University in their renowned collection of Women in the History of America. And . . . with discussions having evolved over the past year, we are proud to announce that Libana will be the catalyst for the first archival collaboration between the Schlesinger Library and Harvard's Loeb Music Library. It feels so fitting that Libana continues to break new ground -- as we have always done.
One hot August night last summer, our archiving process began with an intention-setting ritual and organizational overview for the lengthy process ahead. Our dear friend and former member Jane Goodman traveled from Bloomington (where she is an anthropology professor at Indiana University) to help Cheryl Weber, Marytha Paffrath and myself for a week of intensive system-creating and paper filing. Over Libana’s decades of performances, adventures, research, and collective creative process, we have amassed close to 30 large cartons brimful of papers documenting our endeavors. In preparation to hand these archives over to the Schlesinger, each paper must be sorted and organized into an entirely new filing system. It is gratifying to know that our current efforts will enable future researchers to delve into the breadth, layers, and scope of Libana’s uniquely influential contributions to the interwoven realms of world music, women’s cultural history and spiritual practices, international community singing, and feminist perspective.
Your generous year-end tax-deductible donation keeps our nonprofit organization alive and well as our organizational staff and members continue the meticulous process of organizing 42 years of Libana's documents, music transcriptions, travel and performance videos, research and concert recordings, and photographs.
We are now three months into the sorting and filing. It is a complex, time-consuming, and emotionally satisfying archeological process. Posters, promotion, contracts, reviews for 617 concerts around the world and counting . . . meeting notes from our early years during which we excitedly and depthfully forged relationships, trust, and mutual commitment to our evolving vision . . . notes from other meetings during which our interpersonal conflcits and collective growing pains were processed . . . collected articles on such varied and illuminating topics as "Sex and Power in the Balkans" and "Women's Work in Iraq" . . . hundreds of notes from listeners and concert-goers expressing how our music has enriched their lives and touched their hearts. Each paper we touch (and usually read!) is a thread in the incredible multidimensional tapestry that is Libana.
The ongoing challenges of the pandemic have created a small silver lining in allowing us the time, space and focus for this major project to be undertaken. Yet so far, we are only working with the papers! There are electronic documents, videos, and thousands of photos to organize. Dozens and dozens of cassettes require listening and detailed annotating -- concerts from the early decades, live radio interviews, recordings of workshops and coaching sessions with our many world music teachers, as well as research and repertoire recordings from cultures all around the world. A carton full of video tapes with footage of our first international tour to Bulgaria and Greece in 1996 awaits viewing, cataloging and footnoting.
Recording technology has transformed enormously since 1979. In order to preserve fragile and aging audio and video tapes from Libana's early years, these valuable archival recordings need to be professionally digitized to bear the repeated listening that this labelling process will require -- and to last into the future.
The expense for this imperative digitizing process is costly. Your generous tax-deductible donation supporting our archiving project honors Libana's remarkable achievements!
As the pandemic lingers, and live music-making still feels out of reach, we are deeply honored to receive this recognition from two renowned institutions. We are all dedicated to preserving Libana's story for generations to come. We hold immense gratitude in our hearts for the myriad forms of support you have shown us over the decades, and we trust your generous spirit will continue to carry us through into the future.
With warm wishes for peace and renewal as we head towards the Winter Solstice,
Susan Robbins, Founder and Artistic Director