Sonia Yaco is an assistant professor at University Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the head of Special Collections and University Archives. She has a courtesy appointment in the Department of History. From 2007 to 2013, she was the Special Collections librarian and university archivist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. She is the co-founder and Senior Advisor to the Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE) project. Yaco was previously was the president of Anlex Computer Consulting. She is a regular contributor to scholarly archival journals on topics that include building cultural heritage collections that reflect the diversity of society and innovative methods to improve the discoverability of archives using emerging technology. Recent chapters appeared in Oral History, Museums, and Education and in SAA’s reader on diversity and inclusion, Through the archival looking glass: a reader diversity and inclusion. A chapter in Organization, Representation, and Description through the Digital Age: Information in Libraries, Archives, and Museums is in press. She holds a Master of Arts degree from the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
My research explores ways to build manuscript collections that reflect the diversity of society and to develop innovative methods to improve the discoverability of collections. Archives at their best preserve the history of all segments of society and provide authentic sources for use by a broad array of disciplines. However historically and normally archives have focused on collecting the papers of the majority culture and have holdings that are difficult to access. The papers of marginalized populations are less likely to be sought by or offered to archives and are particularly difficult to find. To increase representation, I am developing tools for communities to preserve their history in their own archives or in collaboration with established repositories. To increase access to holdings, I am developing a conceptual framework to systematically match manuscript collections to university courses by keyword.