controlaccess: Relevant Subjects in Archives and Related Fields for 2017-01-15

This is the weekly roundup of headlines in and around archives, including some library, museum, digital humanities, and information science things as well. If you see something we’ve missed, please email us!

SAA Upcoming Deadlines

Present a graduate student paper or poster at the SAA Annual Meeting

To submit a paper or poster proposal, complete the proposal form no later than February 3, 2017

Apply for the ARL/SAA Mosaic Program

Applications are due February 28.

Volunteer for SAA Appointed Groups

Here’s a great opportunity to get involved with SAA. Self nominations are due January 20.

SAA Awards and Scholarships Deadline

Get your nominations in by February 28!

SAA News

Kara Adams Appointed SAA Director of Education

12 Earn Digital Archives Specialist Certificates from SAA

January/February Issue of Archival Outlook is now available

Have suggestions for articles? Find out how to submit them here.

 

Archives in the News

Gatlinburg fire victims retrieve important family documents from State Archives

Czech Researchers welcome ruling protecting access to historical archives

“Mad Men” archives going to the University of Texas

Butte Archives lands prestigious national grant for Smithers collection

Bruce Springsteen archives headed to Monmouth University

New teaching approach brings more students into Stanford’s archives

 

Find a Study Partner for the ACA Exam!

We recently posted about one SNAP member’s experience with the ACA exam. If you’re planning on taking the test this year, SNAP has created a contact spreadsheet to help you find study partners and trade tips. You can list your name, location, contact information, how you prefer to study, and any other additional notes.

Read prior SNAP posts on studying for the ACA exam here and don’t miss the Early Bird Application Deadline on February 15th.

How I Conquered the Certified Archivist Exam

You might remember Michael Barera from his Transitions post last year. His recent SNAP listserv post generated a lot of interest so we asked him to give us his take on the Certified Archivist exam and why he decided to pursue the designation. Read prior SNAP posts on studying for the ACA exam here and don’t miss the Early Bird Application Deadline on February 15th.

I’m Michael Barera, a new archival professional working at Texas A&M University-Commerce. I first came across the Certified Archivist (CA) designation while I was in graduate school at the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI) between 2012 and 2014, where it was addressed in the curriculum but not really emphasized. During both my time at UMSI and during my job search (spring 2014-spring 2015), I did not seriously consider pursuing certification.

Why I decided to pursue becoming a Certified Archivist

I moved to the Southwest to take a job, where the CA (comparatively) is more widespread and valuable than in any other region of the country. When I first started reading The Southwestern Archivist after becoming a member of my regional archival organization, the Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA), in summer 2015, I noticed that all contributors who had CAs were conspicuously identified as such in the newsletter’s bylines. That same summer, I kept hearing about the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA), chiefly through listening to then-ACA president Mott Linn speak to SNAP at the 2015 SAA Annual Meeting in Cleveland and by reading his article “Not Waiting for Godot” (about the history of the ACA) in The American Archivist. By the start of fall 2015, the CA was something that I definitely had on my career radar, although I was not thinking about taking the exam in the immediate future.

My supervisor, Head of Special Collections and Archives Andrea Weddle, is a CA herself and encouraged me to pursue certification. At the end of the 2015 calendar year, I met with Andrea as part of my annual review process, during which I asked her about studying for the CA, initially as more of a potential mid-range goal than an immediate one. She encouraged me to pursue certification, telling me that she wouldn’t be surprised if I would be able to pass the exam without studying. I was really startled by this notion, and while I ultimately wound up studying intensively, it was this remark that really resonated with me and made me see the CA as a much more realistic and short-term goal than I had previously thought.

Similarly, my employer, Texas A&M University-Commerce, is very supportive of professional development for its library employees. From the aforementioned annual review process, I also had to prepare a self-evaluation for 2015 and create goals for 2016. After thinking about what Andrea had told me, I decided to make “study for and take the CA exam” my first goal for 2016, which Andrea approved. Aside from the highly reflective and very beneficial self-evaluation and goal requirements, A&M-Commerce also supports and encourages its employees to be active and participating members in both national and regional professional organizations. This makes it very easy for me to attend both SAA’s and SSA’s annual meetings, to the point at which I can almost take it for granted that I’ll be going to both every year. This level of institutional support was very helpful in my quest for the CA, from goal setting to keeping up with new developments in the field to simply being able to go to a CA exam location.

Finally, for personal reasons, I wanted to study to increase my knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). Based on the timing, two years after I graduated from UMSI, I viewed my preparation for the CA exam as a sort of “second education,” which I found especially useful in substantially improving my KSAs related to traditional archival fundamentals. This is completely personal perspective, but I feel that the rock-solid, “back-to-basics” approach of the CA exam and study process was a perfect complement to the more diverse, innovative, and exploratory curriculum at UMSI, and perhaps other i-schools around the country. From a simply personal professional development perspective, what really benefited me was studying for the exam, even more so than taking it.

Personal experience studying for the exam

Start early and plan ahead: I started studying in January, giving myself a solid seven months to prepare. I paced myself, so in the first five months of the year (January-May) I read and took notes on all the materials on my study list. I read and took notes thoroughly for SAA’s Archival Fundamentals Series II (AFS II) books, and considerably less thoroughly for the other books and articles on the ACA’s recommended reading list (see below). This gave me two whole months (June and July) to just study from my notes, without worrying about having to read or encounter new material, which I believe helped me tremendously.

Study SAA’s Archival Fundamentals Series II intensively and thoroughly: I essentially treated these seven books as my core “textbooks” for taking the exam, reading them slowly and carefully (averaging about 15-20 pages an hour) and taking detailed notes, with the intention of studying only from the notes and not returning to the books after I read them. This decision proved to be a really good one: on the five domains (out of seven) of the exam that correspond directly to titles in AFS II, I cleared the pass/fail mark for all those sections by 20-30 percentage points, while on the other two domains that don’t correspond exactly to these books, I passed by just 5-10 percentage points each.

Browse and skim the other readings on ACA’s suggested reading list: This is less important, from my perspective, but still necessary in preparing for the CA exam. I essentially treated them as supplementary materials for the exam, not quite like but somewhat similar to “optional readings” on a college syllabus (which I would skim instead of thoroughly read, like I always did for required readings, but still take notes on). I obtained all the books on the ACA’s recommended reading list through inter-library loan (ILL) at my employer, a university library.

Take thorough notes and study from them: As I mentioned before, I’d highly recommend taking detailed notes while reading and ultimately studying from them instead of the books themselves. Also, be sure to give yourself enough time at the end of your preparation process just for studying, not covering new material. In the end, I gave myself two whole months, spending two hours a night studying five days a week, for a total of 80 hours. I think that this was absolutely key in my success on the exam, and (more broadly and perhaps more importantly) in my effective retention of what I learned while reading, especially the AFS II books. (Click here to access all my notes, for the AFS II books and the rest of the ACA’s recommended reading list alike.)

Give yourself “breaks” during your study period to prevent burnout: I did not study on Saturdays or Sundays at all, and I took a number of Fridays off as well during the first few months of my study regimen. This will help keep your mind fresh and prevent studying from becoming too stressful. Also, remember to keep doing what you love to do in your free time, whatever that may be. It really, really does help.

Personal experience taking the exam

Don’t panic!  The exam is difficult and the passing score is much lower than what you’re used to getting in grad school. Also, feel free to skip around: when I took the exam, I actually completed it largely back to front after being (preliminarily) stumped on an early question, which really helped keep my stress level down. Basic advice for taking standardized tests certainly applies here: try to eliminate answers and make an educated guess if you’re unsure, take your time (you’ll have plenty), and look over your answers before turning your answer sheet in, etc.

Why I see certification as valuable

It benefits me as an archivist: Studying for the exam noticeably increased my archival KSAs, made me more keen on professional development (I’m currently reading SAA’s “Trends in Archival Practice” series after finishing AFS II), and will help me to connect with service opportunities as an archivist (at ACA at least, but probably also SSA and SAA once I start connecting with other CAs; plus, having the opportunity to write this blog post and share my study tips and notes is a form of service in and of itself).

It benefits my employer: It gives them more confidence in my KSAs, even though they didn’t ask for a CA when my position was posted a couple years ago. Also, it makes our Special Collections department stronger as a whole: Andrea told me that none of my predecessors had CAs, so this is the first time that there are two CAs in the department working together. Furthermore, I think that having two CAs instead of one might give A&M-Commerce a bit more prestige among its peers as an employer of archivists than it had before, but this is only conjecture.

It benefits the profession: Like Mott Linn does, I personally believe that certifying individual archivists is a more effective way to measure the KSAs of individual archivists and (collectively) the profession as a whole than accrediting library science/information studies programs currently does, or even better than the SAA accrediting individual archives programs would do in the hypothetical. From my perspective, studying for and taking the CA exam was a more thorough assessment of my archives-related KSAs than my education at UMSI, as rigorous and informative as the latter was. Plus, I think certification gives the profession a bit more identity and trustworthiness in the eyes of people who aren’t intimately familiar with our work, especially to resource allocators and perhaps even library directors who aren’t formally trained in archival science.

An obvious comparison here is to what the CPA does for accountants, which is how my business degree-holding father conceptualizes the CA. At the end of the day, he understands how the CA designation communicates that I’ve attained a certain level of archival KSAs even without knowing the specifics; this is precisely the sort of quality-assurance standard I believe we need to have to relate and ultimately advocate as a profession to non-archivists of all types.


Michael Barera
michael@michaelbarera.net

#snaprt Chat Flashback: Lessons and Goals for the New Year

For the January 5, 2017 #snaprt chat (our first of the year!), we discussed lessons and accomplishments from 2016 and goals for 2017. Thanks to those of you who chimed in. We’re especially excited to make our way through all of your reading recommendations. SNAP Junior Social Media Coordinator Amanda Mellinger created a Storify—view it here!

controlaccess: Relevant Subjects in Archives and Related Fields for 2017-01-08

This is the weekly roundup of headlines in and around archives, including some library, museum, digital humanities, and information science things as well. If you see something we’ve missed, please email us!

SAA Upcoming Deadlines

Present a graduate student paper or poster at the SAA Annual Meeting

To submit a paper or poster proposal, complete the proposal form no later than February 3, 2017

Apply for the ARL/SAA Mosaic Program

Applications are due February 28.

Volunteer for SAA Appointed Groups

Here’s a great opportunity to get involved with SAA. Self nominations are due January 20.

SAA Awards and Scholarships Deadline

Get your nominations in by February 28!

SAA News

Ballot set for 2017 election

Look for more information in the coming months and interviews with candidates on the SNAP blog.

SAA Releases Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

Archives in the News

New York State Unified Court System Archives Prepare to Move
Hallmark’s Greeting Card Archives

Chat with Us Tomorrow, January 5th!

Happy New Year, dear SNAPers!

Please join the SAA Students and New Archives Professionals Section for the next #snaprt Twitter chat on January 5th. We will share lessons and accomplishments from 2016 and set goals for 2017. SNAPers, supporters of SNAP, and everyone interested in or affiliated with archives are welcome to participate. The chat will begin at 8pm EST, and we will discuss topics such as:

  • Share an article, blog post, or other resource that made an impact on you in 2016.
  • What accomplishments are you proud of from the past year?
  • What are some of your goals for 2017 and how do you plan to meet them?
  • Did you encounter any disappointments or hardships this year? How did you overcome or learn from them?
  • What conferences or other upcoming opportunities to learn and engage with the larger community are you looking forward to?

We welcome everyone to join or keep up with our chat using the #snaprt hashtag on Twitter. If you would like to have a discussion topic included in this chat, please send it to @SNAP_Roundtable on Twitter, submit it through the anonymous form on the SNAP RT chat webpage or e-mail the SNAP Junior Social Media Coordinator directly at amanda.l.mellinger@gmail.com.

Changing of the Guard – New Blog Editors!

Greetings, dear SNAPers! In this season of transitions, I thought it would be appropriate to introduce the new editorial team for our trusty SNAP blog: Lauren, Emily, and Brenna.

Our New Professionals Blog Editor is Emily Kintigh. Emily will graduate this June with her MLIS degree from the University of Denver in Colorado. Her passion is archives, specifically digital preservation and digital forensics, though she still goes wild at the sight of old letters and musty books. Emily currently works as a communications and student services specialist at DU, volunteering for the University archives (and now SNAP!) in her spare time. As a would-be archivist who has yet to break into the profession Emily is acutely aware of the importance of mentorship and guidance through the transition from graduate school into the real world and is thrilled at the opportunity to help make the start of an archival career less daunting for incoming and new professionals. Between a grad program, a full-time job, and volunteering, Emily doesn’t have much time for hobbies but when she does she loves reading, writing, cooking, traveling, and obsessing over history.

Our Student Blog Editor is Brenna Edwards. Brenna is a first year MLS student at UNC-Chapel Hill, focusing in archives and records management. She’s interested in performing arts archives, but aside from that subject, doesn’t know what she wants to specialize in as of yet. She’s interested in the digital side of things, but also loves working with manuscripts and objects as well. She is currently working in the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill as a graduate research assistant, mainly doing accessioning and a bit of collection management and donor relations. She is also works at the undergraduate library as a graduate assistant, working the reference desk and design lab. Brenna’s looking forward to helping students and new professionals feel more comfortable within the profession and within SAA. Outside of school and work, Brenna enjoys reading, crafting, and going to the theatre.

Finally, I’ll be taking on the role of Blog Coordinator for this year. I’m Lauren Gaylord, and you might remember me from the Year in the Life series I wrote for the blog which just wrapped up in October. I’m currently an archivist at Pixar Animation Studios, focusing on processing our backlog and making collections more digitally accessible to the company. I graduated with my MSIS from the iSchool at UT Austin in 2015, but spent many years prior to that working in various archives and special collections. In my non-work hours I watch a lot of TV shows on Netflix, travel, play soccer, and try to conquer my ever-growing stack of unread books.

We’re really excited to bring you new and relevant content in the upcoming months. And we’re always looking for guest authors, so please reach out if you have an idea or even a comment about the blog. Your contributions make this blog what it is.

Happy holidays! I hope the upcoming weeks bring you warmth, rest, and lots of time with loved ones.