Starting a Local Students/New Professionals Group

Post by Max Johnson, our SNAP secretary

The SNAP Steering Committee was recently asked if there were guidelines for hosting SNAP events, for instance at conferences, or if we had any recommendations towards that end.  The Steering Committee determined it would be fun and interesting to have some blog posts written by SNAP members who have had success in working with local groups, creating local groups, hosting student/new archivist events or hosting SNAP events.  Towards this end, I want to offer some of my experience in starting and planning a local student/new professionals group (Portland Emerging Archivists) with the hope that it helps other students/new professionals develop local programming, host SNAP-related events, or expand their professional circles through professional activities and service.

A quick introduction for PEA.  PEA was started by Pete Asch and myself in the Spring 2011, after months of research on student expectations compared to employer expectations in the job market regarding skills sets, education, etc, culminating in the presentation of that research at the Northwest Archivists Annual Conference.  In early June 2011, Pete and I approached several students and recently minted archivists in Portland and explained that we had several ideas on how to bring students closer and engage in professional development and outreach.  After our first successful meeting we held a mini-conference at a local bar and since then have been promoting local events/opportunities to our student list, as well as planning tours, discussions and general hang-outs.

My general advice for anyone wishing to host student events, plan meet-ups, etc is to start by strategically finding partners in your area.  In expanding our ideas beyond ourselves and seeking feedback, we believe we have been able to program events that are useful and interesting, as well as relevant to our careers.  The partners we found at the City of Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon Historical Society and San Jose State University were instrumental in fleshing out the group’s role and structure and opening the focus to truly dynamic and edifying opportunities.  Our initial steering group was composed of Jenny Mundy, Electronic Records Management Analyst for Multnomah County; Jennifer Keyser, Reference Assistant for the Oregon Historical Society; Chris Fuller, Archives Assistant at the Portland Archives and Records Center and SJSU SLIS Dec 2012 Graduate as well as Pete Asch and myself.

In planning an event, we start with sharing ideas and then once an idea has been “approved” (we are VERY informal) one of us acts as the contact person and typically we all share responsibility for promotion and outreach.  We use a combination of Social Media tools but rely heavily on  Grad-school listservs, the Portland Area Archivists listserv, SAA and NWA.  We have started sending event information directly to previous attendants and we try to maintain a dialogue on new ideas, directions, etc which allows members to suggest events and work with the planning committee to make them happen.  An excellent example would be our first event in 2013 which was conceived of and developed by a local new professional who had heard of our group and wanted to be involved.

In summary, developing strategic partnerships, determining goals and recruiting recruiting recruiting recruiting are some of the primary aspects of student group organization that have helped us make PEA a success.  Finally, our strongest support comes from the local archives community and the students in Portland, all which have offered advice, suggested contacts and helped us promote our events beyond the student sphere here, which is helping us develop truly dynamic programming that reaches across multiple levels of arcives expereience and practice.

We maintain a blog for anyone interested in following our progress at:

In addition, if you have any questions or interest in PEA, please contact me.

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About Lisa H

Lisa is the archivist/librarian at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College. She stumbled into archival work by way of the museum world and is always seeking ways to break down the silos of these professions. Lisa has worked in museums, libraries, and archives in Illinois, New York, and Alaska. While not at work, Lisa spends her free time biking, working on art projects, and putting her useless knowledge to good use on bar trivia teams. You can find her on Twitter @lisahuntsha.

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