SAA 2016 Candidate Interview: Jamie Martin

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.

Jamie Martin
IBM Corporate Archivist, Somers, NY
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?

SNAP Roundtable members should play the same role as all members of SAA, by contributing their skills, talents and ideas to continue to improve our organization. SNAP Roundtable itself should continue to advocate for the needs of students and new professionals, especially in terms of representation and continuing education for the newest members of our organization.

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

SAA – and in particular, the nominating committee – needs to engage SNAP Roundtable on a regular basis to scout for qualified candidates or interested volunteers. In addition, students and new archivists should always be encouraged to apply for volunteer positions or place their name on the ballot. Diversity is expressed in many different ways, and that includes education and experience. I believe the best organizations reflect a wide range of expertise, background and skill, and that can’t happen without students and new professionals in the mix.

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

Advocacy is a hot topic within SAA right now, but one area that is perhaps not receiving enough attention is advocacy for ourselves– as archivists. It’s crucial we raise awareness of the archival record, but if we don’t raise awareness of the importance of having trained, skilled, well-paid professional archivists, then how much are we really achieving? We need to raise awareness of our unique profession and the skills needed to properly care for valuable historic records. There will always be a need for volunteers, and the nature of our (often under-funded) profession means that some positions will be part time or relatively low paid. Yet, we can certainly do more to raise the public understanding of the need for professional archivists.

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

There are many ways that SAA can continue to improve the public understanding of the archives profession.SAA can create connections within library schools to attract talent, and showcase the ever-evolving and often exciting challenges within a 21st century archives. SAA should also work closely with educational institutions to provide a realistic view of the skills needed to work in today’s often digital repositories. I also believe SAA could focus more time on the fast-growing realm of “non-traditional archives” and educate those parent institutions about the need for professional archivists to manage these new programs.

5. How can SAA improve archival education?

SAA can improve continuing archival education by continuing to recognize that many archivists simply cannot afford to attend workshops or conferences in person. Online courses are critical for continuing education within our field. I also believe SAA needs to offer more foundational courses for those necessary skills that many of us do not learn in archives school, and instead learn from often hard experience. How does one transition into a manager role, learn to oversee an organizational budget, advocate for funding when grants are not an option? These are all necessary and valuable skills for archivists to learn. The course on Project Management is a great start.

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

My advice for new professionals is to remember to advocate for yourself as you look for your first professional position. It doesn’t matter if it’s within traditional archives or not. The responsibility of advocating for fair salaries and benefits for new professionals belongs with everyone in SAA, from experienced archival managers to the newest graduate. Yet, in the end, it’s up to each person to manage one’s own career. That starts with your first job.

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