Acting Marian & Alan McLeod Director of the Special Collections Research Center
Candidate for Nominating Committee
Read her bio and response to questions posed by the Nominating Committee here.
How did you get your start in the archives field?
I went to college knowing only that I wanted to be a history major. I thought I might want to work in museums, but after being tasked with sewing identification labels on handkerchiefs on my first day of volunteering at the campus museum I was definitely less interested. I volunteered for a couple of semesters, but in the meantime I was hearing about research in special collections from a friend and then started doing my own research in archives for class projects. I decided becoming an archivist was the right career path for me, applied to a couple graduate programs, and was accepted. I was fortunate to get a student position at UW-Milwaukee’s archives where I did a bit of (nearly) everything and had some great mentors in the archivists and my fellow grad students. The student assistant position led to short-term corporate positions in Milwaukee before accepting my first academic job at the University at Albany.
Should SAA focus its services more on archives professionals (archivists) or the archives profession as a whole?
As the national organization for archivists, the SAA in most ways simply must do both in the absence of another option or a tightening of its mission. I believe the SAA is the most logical body to be the voice of the archives profession, but doing so in a real and focused way would mean that some of the services or benefits we individual members have come to expect (or hope for) would go away. Any significant change would require serious discussion by the membership and leaders as well as with regional and state organizations. This discussion could center around what each group does well and might agree to focus on going forward.
How do you see the SNAP Roundtable within the larger picture of SAA?
As with any SAA constituent group, the SNAP Roundtable is the perfect place for members to connect with each other over common interests, experience, etc. We know more and more active SAA members, whether serving on committees or running for leadership positions, will come from this group just as they do from other constituent groups. The SNAP Roundtable can coordinate the particular interests and needs of those students and new professionals who did not have that formal coordination in the past. Honestly though, I also immediately find myself thinking about how the formation and functioning of the group in its early years will be analyzed by researchers interested in the profession, the recession, generational shifts, and on and on in the future (so contact your SAA archivist to make sure the group is documented in the SAA Archives!).
What do you feel is the responsibility of SAA leadership, and your leadership role in particular, to students and new archives professionals?
The SAA Nominating Committee has the same responsibility to students and new archives professionals as they do to other members of the profession: to seek out passionate and qualified members willing to serve the organization’s members. The committee has the responsibility to seek out candidates from this constituency for the slate of candidates as well as consider issues that may be of particular interest to this constituency in the questions posed to candidates.
What advice do you have for new professionals in our field?
The archives profession is such a small world, but who we are and what we do is so diverse. I encourage new professionals to keep in mind that they should be getting something out of their current position as well as what they are contributing to the archives and its larger organization. I would also encourage new professionals to become involved in the professional organizations of their choosing. I have found the people I have met in and outside of the repositories where I have worked to be critical to my career in so many ways – information sharing, collaborating, celebration, moral support, and more. Do not miss those opportunities to work with and learn from other archivists.