SAA 2016 Candidate Interview: Harrison W. Inefuku

This post is part of the 2016 Candidate Interview series, presented in preparation for the 2016 SAA Election (March 14-April 3). Candidate statements will be posted daily through Friday, March 11. Read more statements from 2016 candidates here or check out our previous election series.

Harrison W. Inefuku
Digital Repository Coordinator, Iowa State University
Candidate for Nominating Committee
Read their bio and response to questions posed by the Nominating Committee here.

  1. What role should SNAP Roundtable play in SAA?

The SNAP Roundtable is an important group in SAA. It helps with the socialization (the familiarization and understanding of the archival profession’s culture and values) of graduate students and new archives professionals, providing opportunities for leadership and connecting roundtable members with SAA’s leadership and experienced archivists. The roundtable provides an amplified voice for those entering our profession, one that can effectively advocate for the needs of its constituency and providing fresh perspectives on the challenges our profession faces. Finally, SNAP’s adept use of blogs, Twitter, and social media outlets sets examples for other roundtables and sections to aspire to. SNAP makes valuable contributions to SAA, and I am happy to see it continue to grow and thrive.

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

SNAP’s membership comprises the future leadership of our organization. In order to ensure that the voices of new professionals are included in our candidate pools, looking at the current and past leadership of SNAP will provide names of passionate archivists who have ben professionally engaged from early in their careers. Further, I think SAA’s leadership can help new professionals with career planning—the Nominating Committee, for example, can share the qualities we look for in selecting candidates.

3. What current policy issue do you feel is the most imperative to the archival profession?

Looking at funding priorities set by federal and state governments is vital for the archival profession. When the federal government looks to cut the budget, agencies such as the Institute of Museum and Library Studies and the National Archives and Records Administration (which administers grants through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission) are often at risk of cuts in favor of agencies covering the STEM fields (like the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation). When state governments cut funding for higher education, archival studies programs and college and university archives may face closure or reduced budgets, preventing them from operating at optimal levels. My answer is connected to the following question—if the public doesn’t understand the archives profession, how can we expect our work to be valued by our government leaders, especially in times of financial hardship?

4. How can SAA improve public understanding of the archives profession?

Although stories on archives and archival materials may not be in the news on a daily basis, stories on records and information, more broadly, frequently makes the news. The past several presidential election cycles, for example, have featured questions about birth certificates and personal e-mail servers. NSA’s bulk collection of metadata and Enron’s records destruction are other major records-related stories from this century. These news stories, and many others, are opportunities for SAA, and archivists in general, to provide expert (and politically neutral) knowledge around news stories that deal with records. This will help the public understand the types of materials and issues archivists work with, and can combat the stereotype of dusty shelves.

5. How can SAA improve archival education?

SAA offers a breadth of continuing education opportunities that allow archival professionals to remain current in the developments of our field, including the Digital Archives Specialist curriculum. These offerings are complemented by workshops organized by regional and local archival organizations.

For graduate programs in archival studies, SAA should ensure that the Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies are reviewed and revised on a regular schedule, to ensure that they meet current and anticipated needs of the profession. SAA should also ensure that all graduate programs listed in the Directory of Archival Education meets the Guidelines, and that both resources are highly visible for students researching careers in archives.

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

Learn how to advocate for yourself! Share your work, through conference posters and presentations, and publishing (through journals, newsletters, and social media). Self-promotion and being able to speak to your interests, successes and accomplishments is key, whether you’re trying to expand your professional network, writing cover letters for job applications, or seeking leadership positions in SAA and other professional organizations.

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