SAA 2016 Candidate Interview: Holly Smith

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.

Holly Smith
College Archivist, Spelman College, Atlanta
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 serves a vital function in SAA, and should continue to serve as a space where students and new professionals can discuss professional concerns openly and honestly. SNAP can bridge the conversation with SAA leadership about issues of particular concern to early career archivists such as professional engagement and career development, and collaborate on ways to address these concerns – which could include webinars on these topics, regional discussions, or conference presentations.

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

As a member of the Nominating Committee, I would seek to collaborate with theSNAP membership for the selection and nomination of eligible members for roundtable and committee leadership. It is vital for SAA‘s sustainability and growth to have a diverse group of leaders and members formulating and facilitating the organization’s mission.

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

Facilitating equitable access to archival collections, particularly public records, remain a vital concern to the archival profession. It remains a crucial tenant of our professional responsibility to balance privacy concerns with ensuring transparency and accessibility to archival documents across diverse repositories.

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

When I share with people what I do, more often than not they find it interesting and intriguing.  One suggestion might be to feature an “Archivist of the Week” on SAA‘s social media or website, where archivists employed in various types of positions and institutions might be featured, or can accept questions from the general public. This could be a fun way to demonstrate the variety of the archives profession. Facilitating community engagement through outreach activities, like conducting preservation workshops or community scanning events, would be another way to improve public understanding of our profession. One model could be the National Museum of African American History’s “Save Our African American Treasures” program: http://nmaahc.si.edu/Programs/Treasures.

5. How can SAA improve archival education?

One suggestion would be for SAA to continue to collaborate with faculty, administrators, and students in  graduate school programs and formulate programs focused on current issues and topics in the archival field. Such programs (which could include campus panels, online discussion) could not only inform coursework but would have the added benefit of engaging students with SAA early in their programs. SAA could also continue to connect with SNAP members around continuing education courses or programs, to help promote career retention.

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

I would encourage new archives professionals to create a broad network of supportive mentors and colleagues, beyond the archival profession. Getting involved in SAA and other national professional organizations is a great way to connect with other archival professionals, but I would also suggest getting involved in the communities they find themselves in – connecting with community service organizations, different faith communities, local schools, etc. Feeling invested in your profession and having a diverse support system will make you a well rounded professional that can create collaborative relationships with diverse communities – a definite personal and professional asset.

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