Claire P. Baker: In many ways, Claire’s first fandom was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, which she had nearly memorized at age four. However, things really began when she became obsessed with Digimon during its original run on North American television. From there she discovered fansites, fanfiction, and cosplay; and the rest, as they say, is history. Fandom became a strong part of Claire’s academic career, reflected in papers she wrote while obtaining her three degrees (B.A., B.Ed., M.I.), and remains a primary research interest to this day. A librarian by day, Claire started volunteering with the OTW in 2014, and became co-chair of the AO3 Documentation Committee a year later. Since then, she has also joined TWC and Tag Wrangling. When not wrapped up in OTW and library-related affairs, Claire can often be found betaing fanfiction, running various gift exchanges on AO3, and preparing an army of cosplays and panels for her next convention.
1. Why did you decide to run for election to the Board?
I strongly believe in giving back to the communities to which I belong. Whether that means running events that I want to see happen, creating the documentation needed to keep things moving smoothly, or just making sure that tea is ready when everyone arrives, I enjoy taking on facilitating roles and working behind the scenes so that everyone can benefit.
Fandom is a major part of my life, and giving back has taken various forms over the years, but the work I do through the OTW may be the most rewarding. I love the projects that I work on and the company of those who dedicate their time and effort to keep the OTW and its projects going strong. As a board member, I hope to support them further, and aid in whatever way I can in creating the best possible future for the OTW as a whole.
2. What skills and/or experience would you bring to the Board?
I have facilitated events and led groups of varying sizes and levels of formality, ranging from running simultaneous gift exchanges on AO3 to spending three years as the programming director of a local convention to acting as co-chair of the AO3 Documentation Committee. I am a good listener and excel at both identifying needs and thinking of ways to meet them. Whether it’s finding everyone in my exchange the perfect match, creating a balanced schedule that meets everyone’s availability, or recognizing when an issue needs to be discussed by a group in order to reach a fair consensus, I’ll do my best to ensure fair and mutually agreeable solutions.
I face problem solving with an equal mix of practicality and out of the box thinking. Whether it’s non-serious matters like discussing what fandoms to use in our FAQ examples or doing serious research into web accessibility, style guides, and beyond, I enjoy brainstorming creative solutions and putting in the work to bring them to fruition.
My favourite part of being a librarian is to help people find what they need, and building tools to help them help themselves. Creating up-to-date, accessible, user-friendly documentation is key, and something I’m proud to contribute through the AO3 Documentation committee. I see fun and interesting challenges in both creating and updating tools and documentation, and look forward to chances to work collaboratively with members across the OTW.
3. Choose one or two goals for the OTW that are important to you and that you would be interested in working on during your term. Why do you value these goals? How would you work with others to achieve them?
My main goal is to help create an open, inclusive, and accessible OTW. While this certainly involves our public face and the way we develop AO3 and our other projects, I would focus on the Organization itself.
In my time with the OTW, I have seen substantial changes take place on the back end to help promote a more open and transparent organization. Some of this has been infrastructural; the recent change in our communication platforms has created a much less siloed feel to our day-to-day work, allowing us to intermingle even while maintaining clear workspaces. Some of this has been more procedural, reflected in our current strategic goals.
However, there’s more work to be done.
We have documentation, both within the board and the OTW at large, that needs to be created and updated to functionally and accurately reflect who we are and what we do. There is work we can do to improve transparency and cohesiveness, whether better use of current resources, creating internal resources for overall cohesion, or providing dedicated opportunities for interaction and community building within our volunteer pool. I’d love to run an AO3 gift exchange for our volunteers, see Communications’ Five Things posts used directly to show prospective recruits what work is like in their new committee, or have informational meetings to spread knowledge of what everyone does and how the Organization, as a whole, fits together.
4. What is your experience with the OTW’s projects and how would you collaborate with the relevant committees to support and strengthen them? Try to include a range of projects, though feel free to emphasize particular ones you have experience with.
I currently volunteer in two AO3 centered committees (Docs and Tag Wrangling), and the committee in charge of Transformative Works and Cultures. Having chaired for two years, I also understand the administrative work required to keep our projects running.
AO3 is run through the work of several committees, and making sure that everyone is on the same page can be difficult. Communication through liaisons and direct contact is vital. Of course, so is making sure the servers and coding support are meeting (or, ideally, exceeding) current needs. The key as a Board member would be actively paying attention and responding to these needs, and ensuring that information is flowing properly between all relevant parties.
Burnout is a major concern across the organization. We’ve lost many talented volunteers either because they weren’t expecting the workload, or because what they voluntarily signed up for eventually became more than they could handle. If there is anything that we can do to promote a healthy work balance and make sure all committees have both the resources and manpower needed to do exemplary work, it should be done. If we can create more fun opportunities, and increase morale that way, all the better.
5. How would you balance your Board work with other roles in the OTW, or how do you plan to hand over your current roles to focus on Board work?
The biggest hat I currently wear is that of the AO3 Documentation Committee co-chair, a role that I share with two other brilliant individuals. In the past, we have supported each other, taking on more or less responsibility as needed to balance our various other commitments. As to my other roles, TWC requires concentrated bursts of attention, usually over a week or two per year, and Tag Wrangling is generally easy to maintain if tackled slowly and regularly or in small, concentrated bursts. Keeping these facts in mind, I believe I can successfully maintain my current workload while balancing any board responsibilities. That said, three years is a substantial amount of time, and needs may change between now and the end of my term. I will certainly reassess as necessary if I ever feel that I can no longer give each committee’s work the attention it deserves.