SAA 2016 Candidate Interview: Robin Chandler

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.

Robin Chandler
Archival Consultant
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?

SNAP plays very important role for SAA; it is an organization that fosters new professionals as they transition from learner to colleague, and serves as an important communication hub between new professionals and SAA’s structure. New ideas are the lifeblood on an organization and SNAP should be considered as a start-up where new ideas germinate and take root throughout the organization.

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

Conversation is key, and is a starting point that can reveal robust means of engagement . SAA Leaders should routinely seek out and engage SNAP members in conversation to understand where communication and engagement gaps currently exist. This hypothesis may be an answer in and of itself. Regular conversation between SAA Leaders and SNAP members would surface needs and reveal collaborative processes that can be instituted to ensure better engagement.

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

Diversity and inclusion is the most important policy issue facing the archival profession. This policy issue is twofold; it includes ensuring a diverse membership reflecting society and taking steps to ensure that the cultural record is diverse, complete and accessible.

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

The late Historian, Roy Rozenzweig created the Center for History and New Media essentially bridged the “archival divide” by using digital media and computer technology to, in his words, “democratize history.” In the 21st century, archives, and special collections will also be defined by their ability to bridge this divide. We can do this by continuing develop and maintain infrastructures for knowledge generation, but we should also seek out and foster collaborations with communities making our archives places of connection more than just a repository. While outreach and education activities are always a challenge when we are asked to do more with less, but archives must be places of inclusion or they will not survive.

  1. How can SAA improve archival education?

In its heart and soul, SAA must continually seek new ways to improve archival education. For example, SAA Certificate programs reflect the growing importance and role of certification for special knowledge and skills as employers evaluate job candidates using professional networking services such as Linkedin. SAA should gather data regarding trends and developments in archival education and professional education write large from educators associated with colleges, universities and institutes and from the broadest representation of archivists to determine how education offerings can be improved, what new skills and knowledge are needed, and what methodologies for educational course delivery would best suit the membership.

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

Reflecting on my career, I offer these ideas to consider:

  • Strive hard to meet the challenges your career brings to you, because zeal of accomplishment is truly fun!
  • Archives are a noble profession; by preserving and making history accessible we can change the world for the better, because nothing is more important, nor at the core of our democracy then to see yourself and your community in our history and therefore in society
  • Respect your colleagues, both those you agree with and disagree with, and in all your work maintain equanimity, because mutual respect is the key to all success
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