Tag Archives: advocacy

The Adaptable Cycle of Engagement in Archives

Guest author: S. Kaye
Recent MLIS graduate from the University of South Florida

Let’s be honest. We’re probably all a little guilty.

It’s 8:00 am, we’ve got 5,000 documents in a cue ready to be digitally scanned, and we close our office door, sealed away from most of the world, ready to get to work. It could be hours before we see another person. In fact, other than going home and then coming back to the office again, it could really be days before we see another person. And that’s OK. We’ve got a job to do, and for the most part, we’re going to be married to our documents (and the Crowley, or the Epson) until the job gets done.

But even in a world where there might be less “people interaction” than in other professions, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of our ultimate users. Whether our archives are utilized today, or in ten years, at some point, people will be part of the equation. And there are several good reasons we should keep this in mind.

On the surface, it clearly helps us to know who will ultimately use our archives so that we prepare them in a way that is easily and quickly accessible, and understood, by our users. For example, if we’re creating archives in formats that are difficult to access, all our good efforts might be for naught. While the act of “saving” our materials is critical, it’s just as important that appropriate users can find the information at a later date.

But on another level, and one that we may not always think about, it’s essential for us to have a way to communicate with these users, not only to understand their needs, but also to have their support. In an economy where money is tight (especially for non-profits), budgets are often cut from year to year, and archivists need to connect with the public and establish the important role we play in preserving not only documents, or photos, but also history itself. Continue reading

SAA 2015: Session 505, Regional Advocacy, National Impact

In advance of the 2015 Annual Meeting, we invited SNAP members to contribute summaries of panels, roundtable and section meetings, forums, and pop-up sessions. Summaries represent the opinions of their individual authors; they are not necessarily endorsed by SNAP, members of the SNAP Steering Committee, or SAA.

Session 505 had a large panel compared to other sessions, wherein the archivists discussed how their individual repositories or the state and/or regional associations successfully advocated on behalf of archives and archivists. As panel moderator Rachel Chatalbash, Archivist for the Yale Center for British Art and Co-Chair of the Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC), pointed out, much of the advocacy in our profession is done at the local level, yet unless the issue is big enough to enter the national consciousness, the work is often unnoticed and unacknowledged by SAA. She also said it only took one person invested in an issue to sustain the issue, and she has found that if she kept at it, eventually others joined her cause. Continue reading

SAA 2015: Session 210, How SAA Comes to a Policy Position

In advance of the 2015 Annual Meeting, we invited SNAP members to contribute summaries of panels, roundtable and section meetings, forums, and pop-up sessions. Summaries represent the opinions of their individual authors; they are not necessarily endorsed by SNAP, members of the SNAP Steering Committee, or SAA.

This session was moderated by former SAA President Danna Bell and was set up in the fishbowl format, meaning there were many questions and comments from audience members. Two members of the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy (CAPP), Frank Boles and Amy Lazarus, started the session by explaining how their committee developed policy positions and how it worked with SAA Council.

CAPP has two processes for developing policy; one is reactive, and the other is proactive. For the proactive process, Council decides there is an issue that they believe might be worth SAA addressing, so they ask CAPP to look into it. CAPP then drafts a policy and sends it to Council for review, which usually prompts rounds of edits before the final policy is submitted to the membership at large for review. The second process – the reactive one – is more difficult because it comes in the wake of something happening that Council feels it must address quickly. Continue reading

SAA 2015: Session 304, Archival Challenges and Opportunities: Perspectives from the Archivist of the United States

In advance of the 2015 Annual Meeting, we invited SNAP members to contribute summaries of panels, roundtable and section meetings, forums, and pop-up sessions. Summaries represent the opinions of their individual authors; they are not necessarily endorsed by SNAP, members of the SNAP Steering Committee, or SAA.

Originally scheduled to attend SAA, the Archivist of the United States, or AOTUS, David Ferriero was stuck in Washington, DC during his session due to inclement weather and a canceled flight. Through the wonder of technology, though, he was still able to join the conference via Skype. SAA President Kathleen Roe served as an interviewer, giving the session a conversational tone.

There were many great questions for Ferriero, but they centered around four things: Congressional oversight, NARA’s involvement with other agencies, whether or not NARA would assume a national leadership role, and the outreach programs that had been implemented at NARA. Continue reading

SAA 2015: Session 508, The Role of Archives and Archivists in the Search for Truth and Reconciliation

In advance of the 2015 Annual Meeting, we invited SNAP members to contribute summaries of panels, roundtable and section meetings, forums, and pop-up sessions. Summaries represent the opinions of their individual authors; they are not necessarily endorsed by SNAP, members of the SNAP Steering Committee, or SAA.

Guest author: Katharina Hering, Project Archivist at the National Equal Justice Library — Georgetown Law

Note from note taker: My notes are just a summary of the presentations and discussion, but I want to add that this session was one of the most informative and thought-provoking panels I attended at the conference – the TRC archive is a model of a digital archive based on respect for the victims, developed and managed in close collaboration with indigenous communities.

As the moderator pointed out, this session was one of several sessions at the meeting that complemented another very well, dealing with communities that don’t want to be documented, community archives, postcustodial theory, and archival activism. Shelley Sweeney introduced the session with reflections on concepts of truth, and their impact on archival practice and theory. Sweeney has been the Head of the University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections department in Winnipeg, Canada, since 1998. Sweeney has been instrumental in securing the bid and implementing the concept for the development of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, which is now the home for the records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools. The Commission wrapped up its work this year. Continue reading

SAA 2015: Town Hall with SAA Leaders

In advance of the 2015 Annual Meeting, we invited SNAP members to contribute summaries of panels, roundtable and section meetings, forums, and pop-up sessions. Summaries represent the opinions of their individual authors; they are not necessarily endorsed by SNAP, members of the SNAP Steering Committee, or SAA.

The Town Hall with SAA Leaders was a brown bag lunch session held on Thursday, August 20, 2015. Both President Kathleen Roe and President-Elect Dennis Meissner were present for the informal discussion, in which anyone in attendance could ask questions. SNAP’s founder, Rebecca Goldman, also answered some questions. Topics were varied, ranging from suggested collaborations with other professional associations to questions about the policy change regarding social justice issues.

Continue reading