SAA 2017 Candidate Interview: Aaisha Haykal

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.

Aaisha Haykal
Manager of Archival Services, College of Charleston’s Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture
Candidate for Nominating Committee
Read her bio and response to questions posed by the Nominating Committee here.


1.     What role should SNAP Roundtable play in SAA?

I believe that the SNAP Roundtable is an important part of the SAA infrastructure because it provides the vital way for new professionals, students, and allies to be introduced into the profession not just in terms of the issues and trends, but also the leadership. I see SNAP as a way for these groups to grow leadership and to bring forth issues and problems that are facing the new generation of information professionals. Furthermore, the existing programs that SNAP have completed has challenged the membership and profession to think differently about how archival education is taught, about compensation and expectations, thus, encouraging fair labor practices. SNAP also has a role in providing an opportunity for networking and mentoring (informal and formalized), so that people can connect with each other and express their concerns with like-minded people.

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

Although SNAP constituents comprise of wide variety of individuals from students, new professionals, and long-time professionals who care about what happens with new professionals, the main goal of the organization was to address the first two groups. SAA leaders need to have a way for open communication between the administrative body; and the sections and roundtables. One of the main points of communication has been the e-mail listservs, which is great way for administration to push out information, but currently is not great tool for real conversation between groups. However, to mitigate this issue would be to have more virtual conversations and meetings throughout the year with SAA members and this would help the SNAP community, who often cannot make it the annual meeting, where some of these big discussions and policies are discussed.

I think that the nominating committee can better engage with SNAP constituents by helping members understand the different levels of leadership within SAA in terms of what are their roles and responsibilities are. Additionally, look to SNAP leadership (past and present) to see if they are willing and able to serve in a larger capacity within SAA or if they can nominate someone who would be an asset.

3.     How can SAA improve archival education?

Since SAA is not an accrediting body like ALA or a certifying body like ACA, its role in improving archival education is not readily apparent. However, some of the ways that I think SAA can improve archival education is by

  1. Providing affordable access to SAA continuing education courses. This can be done a few ways 1) provide student and new professional prices; 2) provide scholarships, similar to how the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board and other SHRAB boards give out scholarships; 3) work with the schools to provide a group access to these courses.
  2. Work with ALA to include SAA related policies in their accreditation criteria. These efforts have already been done via joint committees, usually with the Rare Book and Manuscript Section (RBMS).
  3. Inform students and new professionals what to look for in a graduate program. The current online directory is great as well as the Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies, but it is not well advertised and there seemingly no follow-up to see if the schools in the directory meet these guidelines.

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

There are a lot of pressing issues within the archival profession including, but not limited to 1) maintaining and preserving the historical record in a society where data and records are continuingly not being kept; 2) retention and recruitment of professionals; 3) funding and awareness; and 4) diversity and inclusion. However, these issues are not disparate, they are related to power and privilege, which is a larger issue that we as a society need to challenge and come to solutions on. Thus, the real issue is for archivists to stop being neutral and become activists, the issues that stated above will not change until the society has changed.

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

The advice that I have for new professionals is to be yourself, often people think that they have to change what they think and how they behave to fit in or to get a job, but in reality the job that you want will accept you the way that you are. Additionally, I will add that one must not forget to question and ask the why, whether it is your professor, a colleague, boss, organization, etc. because that is the only way that you will get answers and also encourage them to think about their actions and reasoning.

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One thought on “SAA 2017 Candidate Interview: Aaisha Haykal

  1. Pingback: Transitions: Aaisha Haykal, “Lifting as we Climb” | SNAP Section

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