SAA 2013 Candidate Interviews: Tim Pyatt

For the next week and a half, daily posts will come to you from the SAA election candidates who have chosen to address the SNAP audience. Election candidates answered questions submitted from SNAP membership. SNAP is not endorsing or recommending against any candidates, we are simply providing candidates a chance to speak directly to our members. Please also take the opportunity to turn these posts into a discussion by utilizing the comments section. 

Tim Pyatt
Huck Chair and Head, Special Collections Library, Penn State
Candidate for Council
Read his bio and response to questions posed by the Nominating Committee here

How did you get your start in the archives field?

I consider myself the “accidental archivist” as I started my career as a rare book librarian. However in my first professional job at the University of Oregon, my boss and mentor was Ken Duckett, SAA Fellow and still one of the best archivists I ever worked with. Ken steered my career towards archives and helped me fill gaps in my training. After processing my first archival collection (the Hallet E. Cole Collection on Zeppelins and Lighter-Than-Air Craft) and helping researchers with diaries and first-hand accounts of traveling the Oregon Trail, I was hooked!

Should SAA focus its services more on archives professionals (archivists) or the archives profession as a whole?

I don’t see these two areas as mutually exclusive and think it would be hard to have one without the other. We must be advocates for the archives profession and seek ways show the public the power, importance, influence, and value of archives. As many archives professionals work for archives that are publicly funded in some form or fashion, it is important for us as a Society to demonstrate to the public why archives matter. In turn to aid us as archival professionals, the Society needs to offer training, communication with colleagues, and opportunities for leadership and growth.

How do you see the SNAP Roundtable within the larger picture of SAA?

When I first joined SAA, I would have loved to have found a group like SNAP to help me navigate through the organization and share experiences with others new to the profession. I think smaller, more focused groups like SNAP play a vital role as SAA grows to make sure members do not get lost in the organization.

What do you feel is the responsibility of SAA leadership, and your leadership role in particular, to students and new archives professionals?

We need to make sure that students and those new to profession have voices and membership on our task forces, committees, and other areas of leadership and Society governance. You are the future of the profession and the Society. SAA needs to engage you and demonstrate the value of membership to insure our future as an organization. If elected to Council, I see my role is to think about how our action and programs impact all members.

What advice do you have for new professionals in our field?

Be flexible, take advantage of opportunities, and let your career evolve. Also get involved with your regional and national professional organizations. My SAA dues have been the best career investment I ever made. The colleagues I have met by being part of SAA have given me career advice, helped me brainstorm through work projects, and been sources for continuing education.

This entry was posted in Candidate Interviews 2013 and tagged , on by .

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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