SAA 2017 Candidate Interview: Audra Eagle Yun

This post is part of the 2017 Candidate Interview series, presented in preparation for the 2017 SAA Election (March 13-March 31). Candidate statements will be posted daily through March 13. Read more statements from 2017 candidates here or check out our previous election series.

Audra Eagle Yun
Head of Special Collections and Archives and University Archivist, University of California, Irvine
Candidate for Council
Read her bio and response to questions posed by the Nominating Committee here. Audra also responded to questions for SNAP during the 2015 SAA Election.


1.     What role should SNAP Roundtable play in SAA?

This is my second opportunity speak to the SNAP community as a candidate (I was elected to Nominating Committee in 2015) and I will say the same role applies in 2017: to students and new archivists, SAA can be intimidating or overwhelming. I believe that SNAP serves the essential role of voicing the perspectives of the future of the profession — early career archivists. Within SAA, leaders of SNAP can advocate and help demystify the structure for their peers.

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

I have written about this in my candidate statement, but I will reiterate that Council members have a responsibility to engage with our “constituents” where they are. I am able to observe trends, hear concerns, and foster emerging ideas in the informal conversation spaces of our profession, especially on Twitter. Of course through surveys, opportunities for comment, social media, and email we can reach a large subset of the community. I would be interested in applying components of design thinking in understanding and advocating for SNAP members by creating a user narrative or user profile for a new archivist that would be taken into consideration iteratively by the governance of SAA.

3.     How can SAA improve archival education?

My thoughts on this are as they were in 2015: I believe SAA has an important role to play with education, including providing recommendations for an effective graduate program, such as the Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies. In addition, the Society should maintain its practice of making plenty of educational resources, especially web-based training and learning, available at an affordable cost and accessible to archival learners at all levels of experience.

4.     What do you feel is the most pressing issue in the archival profession today?

As RBMS Chair John Overholt wrote just a few days ago, “the professional is the political.”  While our organization is not served well by associating itself with electoral politics, we must advocate wholeheartedly for the values and ethics of the profession. When our professional values are challenged we all must be equipped to speak clearly and explicitly about our endeavor to “provide evidence of the full range of human experience” through access to all, the right to privacy for our users, and stewardship of a diverse historical record.

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

Be willing to speak up for what matters to you. Create your own statement about what you do and why it matters. Ask the question; book that coffee date with a mentor.

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