SNAP/Lone Arrangers Joint Roundtable Meeting
Guest author Monte Abbott
(see also: review by Sami Norling)
Lone Arrangers business meeting
Began with a review of the business meeting. Lisa Mangiafico is liaison for SNAP and Lone Arrangers groups. Council met earlier in the week and approved: best practices for volunteers and archives, advocacy agenda on HIPA with talking points, reviewed principles for future joint meetings with other organizations.
Decision regarding the listserv:
The survey results and working groups’ recommendations were posted on the SAA web site and to the ANA list.
Council passed motion to: thank working group for their efforts, that SAA continue to host the list for now, post behaviors guided by SAA code of conduct. Council will review the outcome at the May meeting to determine whether the onlist behavior is satisfactory, the list is still needed, and whether the list is still of value to the society.
Next year’s program will be in Cleveland. No theme has been chosen and proposals will be accepted on a variety of topics. All ideas are welcome. Proposals involving advocacy will be encouraged since that is the new President’s (Kathleen Rowe) focus. Session times will be 60 and 75 minutes. Group endorsements have been dropped. October 8th is the deadline for proposals but there will be popups that could accommodate some later proposals. The reception will be on Thursday at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Michelle, outgoing Lone Arranger, introduced the incoming steering committee. The web site has been reorganized with outdated content removed. A call will be sent out again in the fall for Lone Arrangers to help out with informal mentoring. States in the east and midwest are participating but more participation is desired from the western states. This is a good way to meet other lone arrangers in your area. Russ noted that the newsletter is not ready yet. He wants to include feedback from members before proceeding.
SNAP business meeting
The new steering committee announced that a future edition of the journal Provenance will be devoted to SNAP.
Consulting Mini Panel
- Danielle Plumer is a consultant, mainly with digital objects. Building a network takes time – go to meetings and develop a local network. If you think you want to start consulting start part time (e.g., moonlighting).
- Elizabeth Ferguson Keathley of Atlanta Metadata Authority. Digital Asset Management is the same kind of work as that typically performed by archivists, but without a physical collection.
- Rachel Bennington is a cultural heritage consultant for private clients and helps find new homes for collections. If you want to work for yourself you should have at least 6 months of expenses saved to get you through.
Rachel says you should trust your gut when taking clients and projects. Be strategic about professional development opportunities that align with your business interests. You have to really want to be a lone arranger because it is lonely.
A list of helpful hints was made available and will be posted on the web site.
Questions from the floor:
>Taxes for the self employed?
Taxes are not always difficult but you will have to manage that carefully as a self employed earner.
>How do yo market yourself?
Contacts, networks, doing things for free that raise your visibility, write small grants for companies to encourage them to hire you for larger projects. Demonstrate your skills by writing and publishing. This can also be a marketing tool. Advertising, if used, should be directed to target populations. One speaker worked for a company and took a few clients with her when she left.
The Freelancers Union can help home based, short term and contract workers. THey can assist with writing contracts, getting insurance, etc.
>Do you have insurance?
Yes, professional liability, professional property, health insurance. Variety of strategies for health insurance (carry on your own, get it through a spouse, etc.)
One speaker does not carry liability insurance but instead writes strong “not liable” clauses into each contract.
>Is SAA’s DAS (Digital Archives Specialist) program helpful?
Yes, these are very good workshops, you learn a lot. The copyright workshop was especially useful. Some courses may be more useful than others depending on your job and the skills you already have or need to develop.
>How do you protect yourself from litigation?
I only do exactly what is specified in the contract. I refuse to be pressured to do anything additional. If scope of work changes I will write a new contract or an addendum.
>How do you decide what to charge?
I usually charge a set amount by the project but I determine this by estimating the number of hours I anticipate working on the project. Base hourly rate x number of hours = project estimate. I also specify the maximum number of hours I will work and anything beyond that is charged at a specified hourly rate. If the project is federally funded build in federal rates
I never quote my fee structure until after they purchase a 2-day contract and I see the scope of the job. 2-day contract allows me to see what they have, what they need. They aren’t archivists so they don’t know what they need.
I have a fee structure for non-profits and some different service/fee bundles for private clients to choose from.
Internship & Mentoring Mini Panel
To succeed one should really polish those writing skills!
Although the archive may not be able to pay an intern they can work with the intern to provide graduate level course credits. Internships in archives also provide real resume experience.
The mentor needs to know what the intern wishes to learn and accomplish and should work together to create an experience that is a win-win for both.
One speakers considers unpaid workers to be volunteers unless there is college course credit as part of the experience. In that case the worker can be considered an intern.
Speaker compiles a list of tasks that are appropriate for assigning to an intern throughout the year. When an intern is available there is a list of possible tasks ready to choose from.
Questions from the floor:
>What did you learn with your first intern that changed the way you now work with interns?
Interns may have had courses (even at graduate level) and still be starting from scratch. Interns may be unaware of the things they don’t know. Not all interns are equal in terms of ability and preparation. Each internship needs to be tailor made. Don’t leave interns unsupervised. Explain everything, assume nothing about their knowledge level. Work beside them as possible. Immediately check their work when they have completed a task so you don’t spend time correcting weeks worth of mistakes. Interns don’t always ask questions so mentors should be proactive.
>How do you determine which jobs are appropriate for interns?
Coding, processing, writing are usually good tsks. Tasks can vary in the amount of time needed to complete the project so be sure to consider this. along with the length of the internship Interns should be able to start and finish a task in order to have a meaningful experience with a sense of accomplishment.
One example of a complete experience is: unpack a box, code it, post it and write up everything.
You want to give the intern a well-rounded experience with a good amount of variety.
>Do you encourage students to complete the DAS certification?
No. I encourage interns to complete an MLS track in their college degree.
DAS can be completed later, especially if you need specific topics that weren’t covered in the graduate program.
>Which skills make a good intern?
-personable, easy to get along with
>Are there IRS concerns associated with internships?
Yes, an unpaid internship must be educational. You can get into trouble if you call an unpaid position an internship but it isn’t really educational. The council is working on ethics guidelines around this topic now.