SAA 2017 Candidate Interview: Samantha Winn

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.

Samantha Winn
Collections Archivist, Virginia Tech
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?

In its roughly six year history, SNAP has made significant contributions to SAA in three key respects (reflecting the founding goals of the Section). First and foremost, SNAP serves as a powerful advocate and a dedicated voice for students and new professional. SNAP members provide SAA with  critical perspectives, especially when it comes to archival education and employment practices. As we have seen many times in the past, SNAP can mobilize its membership to effect meaningful change for the benefits of its constituents and the broader profession. Secondarily, SNAP serves as an incubator for archival leadership, collaboration, and innovation. Finally, SNAP helps connect student chapters with emerging and established professionals in the field. I look forward to seeing how SNAP continues to expand its influence and outreach.

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

Generally speaking, I am always happy to see Council Members, SAA staff, peer Sections, and appointed Committees/Task Forces reach out for SNAP’s feedback on issues of mutual interest. In the future, I hope more SAA leaders will recognize SNAP’s expertise and seek out opportunities for collaboration. If SAA leaders take seriously their responsibility to mentor and encourage the next generation of archival leaders, they can also engage more informally through the #snaprt chat, blog, listserv, and Annual Meeting events. Other examples include volunteering to speak with SAA student chapters and participate in formal mentoring programs. If elected to the Nominating Committee, I hope to employ several of these strategies to identify emerging leaders among SNAP constituents.

3.     How can SAA improve archival education?

To echo the advice of former SNAP member Eira Tansey, I have been deeply edified by reading literature on the evolution of archival education. For a surface level overview, I recommend this October 2014 blogposts from the Reading Archivists group: https://readingarchivists.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/october-readings/

 In an ideal world, I would like to see SAA pursue some the following:
  • Establish a formal role for SAA in the ALA accreditation process and ALA/ACRL guidelines to ensure that archival competencies and principles are adequately represented in degree-granting programs.
  • Revise the Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies to explicitly include inter-cultural competency as an essential element of master’s-level graduate archival education.
  • Regularly convene archival educators, employers, and students to ensure that graduate programs are realistically preparing future archivists.

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

The precarity of archives  workers poses a significant threat to the  long-term health of our field and the integrity of the historical record. Stagnant salaries and the proliferation of unpaid internships and  term postings will continue to exacerbate historic inequities along the lines of race, gender identity, ability, class, and sexual orientation in our field. Accordingly, SAA must advocate not only for archives as institutions but for the people who make them possible. I am indebted to the scholarship of Stacie Williams, Eira Tansey, Rebecca Goldman, and Stephanie Bennett (among other) for their scholarship on this question.

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

This is such a difficult question for me to answer succinctly! Here are some principles that have guided me in my early career:
  • Know that you have something unique and invaluable to contribute to this profession. It may take time to find your niche, but don’t be afraid to jump in the fray!
  • Build a community of peers, mentors, and cheerleaders. This was critical for surviving my first job search.
  • Seek out people with different experiences and skills who can challenge you to keep growing.
  • Recognize where you have unique access and opportunities compared to your peers. Leverage these advantages to open doors and hold space for people who have traditionally been shut out.
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