SAA 2015 Candidate Interview: Samantha Winn

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.

Samantha Winn
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Collections Archivist
Candidate for Nominating Committee
Read her bio and response to questions posed by the Nominating Committee here.


What role should SNAP Roundtable play in SAA?

SNAP provides a safe space for students and new professionals to learn about SAA and directly engage the leadership on issues that affect them. The roundtable is a bridge to professional involvement for students entering their first career and for transitioning professionals entering archives from another field. Drawing upon the experiences of its members, SNAP can offer powerful, informed perspectives on archival education, early career employment, mentoring, and outreach (among other topics).

How can SAA leaders, and your role in particular, better engage SNAP constituents?

The Nominating Committee has two primary responsibilities: to select candidates for the annual election and to develop questions for candidate statements that will help SAA members make informed voting decisions. The Nominating Committee has an overarching responsibility to advance socio-political, professional, and geographic diversity across the organization.

The Committee can engage with SNAP constituents most meaningfully by nominating current and former SNAP members for election; this helps bring the voices of students and new professionals into SAA’s decision making process. As the Committee develops questions for candidates, members should also consider SNAP members’ concerns and contributions.

How can SAA improve public understanding of the archives profession?

SAA supports outreach and advocacy efforts on behalf of its members; improving the public’s understanding of our profession reflects both of these charges. In terms of outreach, the “Year of Living Dangerously for Archives” has been a great initiative. SAA should continue to encourage and empower individual members to advocate for archives and archivists. I am optimistic that the recently established Committee on Public Awareness will enable SAA leaders to engage this issue in a proactive and timely manner. Additionally, SAA can seek out greater involvement with other organizations to raise awareness of archives and archivists in other professions.

How can SAA improve archival education?

SAA serves as a vital meeting ground for archival educators, students, hiring institutions, independent practitioners, and professionals from allied fields. By soliciting active feedback from these stakeholder groups, SAA can continue to develop, revise, and promote strong guidelines for graduate programs and continuing education. Although SAA is not involved in accrediting graduate programs that produce archival professionals, the organization should collaborate with other professional organizations to ensure that archival theory and practice are equitably represented in curriculum.

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

The most important thing I have learned as a new professional is that it is never too early to engage; some doors may not be open yet, but there are so many opportunities to get involved. Every member has the potential to contribute something meaningful, no matter how experienced or inexperienced. Find a community, a project, or a specialization that interests you and jump in! Look for people who are already doing what you want to do, and ask them specific, meaningful questions about how they got there. The second most important thing I have learned is that once we have found a space in the profession, it is our responsibility to make a safe space for the next new person.

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