Archiving the Future: Steph Sanders

Editor’s Note: Since the Leather Archives & Museum board of directors selected Gary Wasdin as the new executive director, the community has been expressing frustration, confusion and anger. The choice of a library system professional over a longtime volunteer with museum management and development experience and a longtime employee of the LAM has sparked discussion and arguments over what the LAM represents and what direction it should go in after the death of Chuck Renslow and the departure of longtime executive director Rick Storer.

To give a platform for that discussion, the Great Lakes Den will be publishing the opinions of community members and exploring how LAM works and its relationship to the community. They will be asking questions, explaining their positions and talking about where they hope to see the national leather communities most visible and largest nonprofit go. We’ll start with Steph Sanders of Charleston, S.C., American Leatherwoman 2016. Readers are welcome to send their own thoughts to or post them to the Great Lakes Den Facebook page to be printed on the Den.

I just posted this to the link the LA&M published stating that Wasdin has been confirmed. I am completely disappointed in this confirmation, and would like to have a comment from the LA&M board as to how they arrived at the decision to promote someone who is a librarian and not an archivist or curator to the position of ED over 2 internal candidates, one of which has experience in spades in addition to being from a marginalized section of our community that is anxious to be represented in the larger community on the whole.

Gary, I have a couple of questions for you, and if you asked and answered this in your Q&A please forgive me for not being able to recall, but, 1) how do you plan on reaching out to and building upon the current representation in the museum of both women and POC? 2) How do you plan on addressing the possible withdrawl of monetary support from individuals within the community who have promised to pull funds/not renew membership due to you being appointed? 3) This is a big one for me, and it has been mentioned on several threads I have been on regarding this subject, is your relocation to Chicago being financed by the LA&M, and if so, how do you plan on raising funds to mitigate the cost?

I have several other questions, but I don’t want to inundate you all at once. I will say, however, that seeing as how you were chosen above 2 internal candidates, both of which on paper seem to have a great amount more qualifications for running a museum than you do on paper, my expectations for what you do in this position are incredibly high, and should they not be met, I will ensure that any and all fundraising and donations I have in the future will be focused on the Carter Johnson Library instead of the LA&M, and I can attest to the fact that there are many others that feel the same.

You can see Wasdin’s responses, and other comments, at the LAM’s post announcing his appointment.