SAA 2015 Candidate Interview: Nancy McGovern

This post is part of the 2015 Candidate Interview series, presented in preparation for the 2015 SAA Election (March 13-April 13). Candidate statements will be posted daily through Friday, March 13. Read more statements from 2015 candidates here or check out our previous election series.

Nancy McGovern
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries, Head of Curation and Preservation Services
Candidate for Vice President/President-Elect
Read her bio and response to questions posed by the Nominating Committee here.

1. What role should SNAP Roundtable play in SAA?
Determining the role that the SNAP Roundtable should be an ongoing, collaborative process that identifies contributions SNAP could make and would like to make to SAA and to the profession. As a recent program committee co-chair and as a co-chair of the Research Forum, for example, it is clear that SAA has a strong commitment to seeking feedback from and participation by new professionals. In any role I have, I’m always interested in talking to students and new professionals about their goals and interests as an archivist and as an SAA member.

2. How can SAA leaders, and your role in particular, better engage SNAP constituents?
In my experience, the best way to engage constituents is to seek opportunities for discussion, listen carefully for needs and gaps, identify near-term and long-term objectives, and measure progress as we go along. Hopefully, SNAP members like other SAA members take advantage of the annual call for volunteers to make your interests, aptitudes, and availability known.

3. How can SAA improve public understanding of the archives profession?
This question really parallels the question about raising the profile of archives and archivists that the nominating committee asked us to address– we focus on raising awareness in hopes that it leads to deeper understanding. I won’t repeat my response, but add that the more creative archivists and archives can be about opportunistically sharing examples of successes, accomplishments, hopes, and challenges, the better that will be for our future – both in deepening public understanding of the significance of what we do and in adding to our enjoyment of what we do.

4. How can SAA improve archival education?
This is big question with a number of different interpretations and a long history within SAA. Measuring improvement must factor in SAA’s scope of responsibility for archival education. I believe in the importance of the education continuum from training to continuing education to academic education. I am very active across that continuum both within and beyond SAA, so education is a topic that’s very important to me. SAA provides opportunities for members to be involved as students, instructors, and curriculum designers, so members can play a role in meeting identified educational needs. I consider myself to be a continuing educator, a role I see as invaluable in an applied profession like archives and one which SAA enables. I might reframe this question as: what education and training outcomes should SAA address that are not already being addressed? Using a gap analysis approach, we would identify desired outcomes (especially for a very broad area like archival education that is continually addressed by SAA in a variety of ways), determine where we are now, prioritize ways to fill identified gaps, and creatively devise ways to demonstrate progress.

5. What advice do you have for new professionals in our field?
Archivists have a range of roles and contexts in which to develop their careers – from generalist to specialist, at various levels and within various components of repositories, in small to large organizations in any sector, and in different roles over time. Within that context, I regularly advise new professionals to stay curious (watch for trends and developments), be ready (develop timely skills that play to your strengths and interests), listen (it’s the best ways to participate in lifelong learning), try things (push yourself to experience new things), share (your experiences and your time), pay it forward (there will always be new professionals – we hope), be flexible (every turn is an opportunity), and have fun (no sense in doing it if we don’t enjoy it).

A question I have for SNAP is: what three outcomes do you think are most important to SNAP in the next three years?

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