Doctoral Student Diana Wakimoto Researches History of Community Archives

Doctoral student Diana Wakimoto is exploring the creation and evolution of three community-based archives to understand how their practices differ from traditional institutions. Wakimoto’s research is the first in-depth comparative history of the queer community archives movement, and provides a new perspective on archival work.

“I think community archives are such an interesting phenomenon,” Wakimoto said. “They are a community’s response to a need that institutional archives don’t meet. The queer archives are fantastic organizations, and amazingly haven’t been studied much in the profession.”

Wakimoto conducted oral history interviews with community archivists and volunteers at the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco, the Lavender Library, Archives, and Cultural Exchange of Sacramento, and the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles. Her analysis sheds light on the history of queer community archives and provides a detailed account of community archives’ staffing models, circulation policies, and descriptive practices. Wakimoto’s work suggests new ways in which archivists can build collaborative partnerships with their communities to preserve the experiences of diverse groups.

Wakimoto is the first doctoral student preparing to graduate from the online San Jose Gateway PhD program, a partnership between the SJSU School of Library and Information Science and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia. She started the program in 2009.

The Gateway PhD program’s international perspective and distance education model appealed to Wakimoto, who is working full-time while earning her degree. “At this level much of the work is independent research, which is a good fit for self-paced online learning,” she said. “I also meet frequently with my supervisor and cohort members using web conferencing, and it’s great to come together and have that touchstone of support.”

Wakimoto first entered the library and information science field as a high school student employee at her local public library, where she helped review catalog records during the transition to an Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) system. She later worked at the University of California Santa Cruz Science and Engineering Library while earning her B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

After volunteering for a year with the Peace Corps in Bolivia, Wakimoto moved to Boston and earned a dual MS/MA in Library Science and History from Simmons College. She also had the opportunity to work with the Ernest Hemingway Collection as a graduate student intern at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. “It was an incredible experience to be able to work with Hemingway’s letters and personal papers,” she said.

Wakimoto now works as an Online Literacy Librarian at California State University, East Bay. She serves as the subject liaison to the Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Physics departments, and teaches information literacy courses to first-year students. She also manages the University Archives, which recently received two grant awards to develop its collections.