The Library of Congress has welcomed Marya McQuirter as program director for the Connecting Communities Digital Initiative (CCDI), the Library’s new, four-year program to invite creative uses of its digital collections to highlight the histories and lives of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color across the nation.
McQuirter comes to the Library of Congress from the University of Arizona, where she served as an assistant professor in the Department of History and affiliate faculty in the Africana Studies Program and School of Art. She also held a joint appointment with the university’s libraries and served as director of the Public History Collaborative. As director, she worked with colleagues to make collaboration one of the central methods of producing history; including the transformation of a 900 square foot room into a vibrant makerspace in which the public, students, faculty and staff workshopped ideas and projects. In fall 2020, she collaborated with CATalyst Studios and Kindred at Pima County Public Library on the Movement/Rest Quilting Bee, a virtual quilting makerspace.
Before her tenure at the university, McQuirter curated the “dc1968 project,” a digital humanities project highlighting art, activism, architecture and everyday life in 1968 in Washington, D.C.
“The work of CCDI is critical to achieving the Library’s vision that all Americans are connected to the Library of Congress, and Marya is the perfect person to lead this effort,” Kate Zwaard, Library of Congress director of digital strategy, said.
The Connecting Communities Digital Initiative is the key digital component of the Library’s Of the People: Widening the Path initiative, a multiyear, Library-wide effort funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Of the People aims to create new opportunities for more Americans to engage with the Library of Congress, by adding their perspectives to the Library’s collections and helping the nation’s library tell multiple stories about the United States.
As program director, McQuirter will recruit and lead short and long-term grant-funded staff, internships and residencies. She will also initiate and participate in vital conversations addressing how the centering of Black, Indigenous and other communities of color, fundamentally reshapes how we understand and produce American history both inside and outside the Library.
“I have a long history with the Library of Congress, as a place where I’ve conducted research for my own work, including the dc1968 project,” McQuirter said. “Now, I’m excited to be on the inside, working with colleagues to provide money and support to individuals, memory keepers and institutions to use and remix the digital collections in imaginative ways.”