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.
Texas State Library and Archives Commission, State Archivist and Director, Archives and Information Services Division
Candidate for Council
Read her bio and response to questions posed by the Nominating Committee here.
1. What role should SNAP Roundtable play in SAA?
I see many “roles” for the roundtable and limitless possibilities for how it can contribute to a stronger organization. First and foremost, as a forum for interaction and discussion between students and newer members of the Society and the archival profession. Second, the SNAP roundtable is an important conduit for communication with SAA leadership and it should continue to serve as a strong voice for many of SAA’s newest members – asking probing questions, seeking answers, and providing new insights and opinions on issues. SNAP is and should be one of the first places for the future leaders of the Society and the profession to gain insight into the organization – its past history, present challenges and future possibilities. Representation on key Society workgroups and committees is and should be a goal of the leadership.
2. How can SAA leaders, and your role in particular, better engage SNAP constituents?
Active engagement with the SNAP roundtable and its stakeholders is essential for SAA’s continuing success. At the heart of this is stronger avenues of communication between SAA leaders (including other section and roundtable leaders) and SNAP members. I would like to see other sections and roundtables seek out opportunities to involve SNAP members and conversely for SNAP members to volunteer for committees. As a council member, I would do more of what I have tried to do as an SAA member – pay back and pay forward to the Society by encouraging others to become a participant in SAA in whatever ways best suit their interests, abilities, and goals.
3. How can SAA improve public understanding of the archives profession?
As an organization, SAA has invested a great deal of resources helping educate the public on the importance of archives and archivists. But it will take an active, responsive and vocal SAA membership to advance this continuing goal. The first hurdle is getting SAA members to talk not just about what we do but why what we do matters! The second is really reaching out to the known and unknown audiences with compelling messages about the importance of archives and conversely the archival profession. We must all become advocates for archives and take time to find the words and the stories that can make a meaningful and lasting impression on the audiences with which we are trying to connect. We need to be able to tell them why archives should matter to them, we need to share those stories with other members and wider audiences, and we need to avail ourselves of all the communication tools available to us.
4. How can SAA improve archival education?
While SAA does not have a role in accrediting archival programs in the way the American Library Association does with library and information science programs, it does and should promote the inclusion of core principals and standards, as well as the knowledge and skills necessary for archivists in the 21st century among graduate degrees. One way of measuring SAA’s impact is to conduct an assessment of the how the “Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies” (GPAS), first approved by Council in January 2002 and last revised in 2011, have improved the quality of archival graduate programs. This would provide a benchmark for going forward and identify areas where further work is needed.
But, archival education, as we know does not stop with a diploma. Today, more than ever, archivists must stay abreast of advances and changes in field. SAA’s wildly successful Digital Archives Specialist certification program has filled a gaping need in the profession for basic and advanced training in electronic records issues. Additional educational offerings that are widely available and accessible to the majority of our members is the primary and perhaps most impactful way for SAA to help improve education for practicing archivists.
5. What advice do you have for new professionals in our field?
- Learn from those who came before you! Read the classics of archival literature, seek to understand why things are done the way they are (and then offer suggestions for change) and look for mentors throughout your career.
- Get involved! There are numerous archival organizations at the local, state, regional and national levels that provide opportunities for growth, networking and contributing to the future of archives.
Attend a meeting, join a committee, write an article, or speak at a conference. Find your comfort zone and make a commitment to become an active participant in the continuing development of your profession.
- Keep up your skills and develop new ones! In addition to enhancing your value to your current employer, it will also make you more desirable to the next potential employer.