Rebecca Leung is graduating in May 2017 with a MLIS from SJSU. She served as the Chair of the school’s SAA student chapter from 2016-2017 and the Secretary from 2015-2016. In addition to her archival coursework, Rebecca interned at UC Berkeley’s Environmental Design Archives, and at the Bay Area Video Coalition where she developed a passion for media preservation and moving image archiving. Rebecca graciously agreed to share her experience chairing SJSU’s student chapter for the online-only program.
The first Library Science course was offered at San José State University (SJSU) in 1928, though Library Science was not offered as a degree until 1954. Fifty-five years later, in 2009, the Library Science program at SJSU became an entirely online program. Now known as the School of Information, or iSchool, this program offers unique challenges and opportunities due to its online status.
San José State University’s Society of American Archivists Student Chapter (SAASC) formed over the 2002-2003 academic year. Undoubtedly, the chapter endured many changes as the community of student members transitioned from in-person to online interactions. By 2017, the transition is old news and current students are savvy to the online learning environment. No longer geographically tied to San José, California, students now log in from every corner of the globe. iSchoolers recognize their classmates by their names and thumbnail photos rather than by face. It is possible to feel disconnected in such an environment. What keeps these students motivated and engaged in their work?
SAASC offers a way for students with a passion for archives to join a community and connect in a virtual world. Through our programming, students learn directly from experts in the field, unfettered by geographical constraints. Through SAASC’s social media, students can stay informed and involved with archival issues. Our online publication, Archeota, gives students the chance to voice their thoughts, theories, and experiences.
SAASC’s programming initiative is lead by our Events Team and Vice-Chair Tiana Trutna, who plans and coordinates events. Typically SAASC holds two to four online events per semester. In the fall of 2016, we hosted Helen Wong Smith and Rebecca Hankins for a presentation on Cultural Competency and Diversity in the Archives. In the spring, Brenda Gunn and Sammie Morris presented about The Benefits of SAA Membership and ACA Certification and Lauren Kata spoke to us about Oral History and Archives in Practice. We also enjoyed a presentation by past SJSU SAASC Chair Catherine Folnovic about the e-portfolio, the iSchool’s culminating experience. (Alternatively, it is also possible to write a thesis.) Though we were fortunate to host these esteemed guest speakers, online events come in a variety of flavors. Other events included representation on a panel of iSchool student associations; collaboration on an event about iSchool publications (on behalf of Archeota); and an open house about SAASC officer elections. Though the majority of our programming is online, we still offer in-person tours of repositories when possible. This year SAASC members toured the SJSU Archives and Special Collections in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library; the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA; and the Sutro Library in San Francisco, part of the California State Library system.
SAASC’s online presence is managed by our Web Team, which is lead by Secretary Amanda Mellinger. The Web Team is the glue that binds our community together. Without Amanda’s website updates or team member Melissa Rupp’s posts in our Facebook group, SAASC members would not know how, when, or where to meet. Not only does the Web Team keep members abreast of the latest SAASC events and updates, but it helps to keep members informed on current affairs in the archival profession. For example, in October 2016, we participated in SAA’s #AskAnArchivist Twitter event. Jody Perlmutter tweeted questions from @sjsu_saasc while Melissa publicized the event on Facebook. By encouraging members to tweet their questions using this hashtag, students were able to communicate directly with practicing archivists and the SAA community!
Archeota is SJSU SAASC’s online publication. The inaugural issue debuted in Spring 2015 and this May we will release Volume 3, Issue 1. Archeota’s mission is to “profile (SAASC’s) current officers, promote and highlight SAA and SJSU SAASC activities and events, discuss happenings in the archival field, introduce students to professional responsibilities; and most importantly, function as a platform for students to create original content.” Catherine Folnovic helped found this publication. Upon her graduation, a new editorial team formed with Kimberlee Frederick as the new Managing Editor and Jennifer Castle as editor (as well as Chair-elect for 2017-2018). Archeota serves as the voice of the members of SAASC.
Our programming, social media presence, and Archeota are powerful tools in the effort to keep SAASC relevant and active. Nonetheless, some of our biggest challenges are participation and a certain difficulty in gauging interest. Because we record all of our events, a small turnout for the live presentation does not necessarily indicate a small audience. Students have the opportunity to listen to the recording at their convenience. Despite these challenges, I am confident that SAASC will continue to grow and meet the needs of the student archivists at SJSU. The online platform contributes an element of flexibility that will enable future SAASC officers to experiment and innovate with new ways to create community.
Rebecca Leung, Chair
Tiana Trutna, Vice-Chair
Amanda Mellinger, Secretary
Lori Lindberg, Faculty Advisor
Tiana Trutna, Team Leader
Amanda Mellinger, Team Leader
Sarah Edwards Obenauf
Kimberlee Frederick, Managing Editor
Archeota. (n.d.). San José State University Society of American Archivists Student Chapter (SAASC). Retrieved from http://sjsusaasc.weebly.com/archeota.html
History. (2016). SJSU School of Information. Retrieved from http://ischool.sjsu.edu/about/history-and-accreditation/history
History of our student chapter. (n.d.). San José State University Society of American Archivists Student Chapter (SAASC). Retrieved from http://sjsusaasc.weebly.com
Past events and recordings of online meetings. (n.d.). San José State University Society of American Archivists Student Chapter (SAASC). Retrieved from http://sjsusaasc.weebly.com/2016—2017.html