Emerging archivist Ashlynn Prasad
While looking into her family’s history, Ashlynn Prasad got a crash course in records and information access – and a love of libraries and archives.
Ashlynn is a Vancouver local who went to University of California at Santa Cruz for her undergraduate degree. When it came time to do a graduate degree, she really wanted a master’s degree in archival studies. “The iSchool is the only place I can do it,” she says. The iSchool offers the only stand-alone master’s in archival studies program in North America. Ashlynn chose to pursue a dual master’s degree in archival studies and library and information studies so she would have more options after graduation. It also meant she was able to come back to Vancouver to pursue her degree.
Ashlynn is a descendent of indentured laborers brought from India to Fiji under British rule. Records about these communities are kept with British records in Australia, and hard for people to access. She is interested in researching diaspora communities, identity and how archives can help people understand their histories.
“These communities can’t even access their own information,” says Prasad. More than one million indentured servants were sent to the Pacific in the later 1800s and early 1900s – with more than 60,000 sent to Fiji alone. Ashlynn soon discovered that researching her heritage would be difficult, but she sees potential for archives to help displaced peoples.
Ashlynn is also a 2017-2019 ARL/SAA Mosaic Fellow. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL)/Society of American Archivists (SAA) established the Mosaic Program in 2013 to provide financial support, practical work experience and leadership development to emerging professionals from underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups.
As part of this program, Ashlynn acquired first-hand experience in UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, and at University Archives. She spent the fall at RBSC, and in the winter moved to organizing, arranging, and describing records in the archives. “I looked through 13 boxes and binders for the Department of English fonds,” she says. She will receive 450 hours of work experience as part of the internship program, which she says has been a great experience thus far.
She was also able to attend the ARL Leadership Symposium in February at the American Library Association midwinter meeting, and has received a scholarship to attend the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section conference in June.
Congratulations to Ashlynn on her fellowship, and we look forward to hearing more about her accomplishments!