Jackie Dooley 2014-02-11 11:10:23
SAA’s leaders regularly hear from our members about the importance of archival advocacy on societal issues that affect our profession. The past six months have offered myriad opportunities for us to speak out and lend support. We always send out a news release when we take the actions, but I thought it might interest you to see a compiled list, which may make the sum of our efforts more obvious: • The Congressional Records Roundtable entered a statement into the Congressional Record highlighting the importance of preserving the papers of Members of Congress, and thus the historical record of our country. • The Joint Task Force on Advocacy for Partnership for the American Historical Record (PAHR) continues to strategize about ways to influence federal funding in this important area. • The September announcement that the Georgia Archives would effectively close due to massive budget cuts led to an impressive outcry by local archivists and archival users that in turn led to restoration of partial funding. In January, the State announced that the Archives would be moved administratively to the State University System of Georgia. SAA contributed letters in support of the Archives during both phases. • The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy in October led to widespread efforts to assist archives, libraries, and museums that sustained damage. The SAA Foundation gave grants to five New York institutions and stayed in close contact with the New York State Archives and others who provided in-depth assistance. • SAA signed on to an OpenTheGovernment.org letter to the Senate opposing provisions in the FY 13 Intelligence Authorization bill that would reduce access to information and threaten free speech rights. • The Intellectual Property Working Group prepared a detailed statement in response to the U.S. Copyright Office’s call for comment about orphan works in preparation for a possible legislative effort to make it easier to digitize and use orphaned works. • SAA signed on to two OpenTheGovernment.org letters regarding the Freedom of Information Act: the first to the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee offering our thanks for their efforts to hold agencies accountable for FOIA implementation in a manner that serves the public’s needs, and the second to President Obama to thank the White House for bringing renewed attention to issues that continue to plague government-wide compliance with FOIA. • Following careful research and reflection, the Government Affairs Working Group prepared a thoughtful analysis of the circumstances surrounding the U.S. government’s subpoena of oral histories located at Boston College relating to activities of the Irish Republican Army.They recommended that the profession continue dialog about the concept of “archival privilege,” which has not been upheld in the courts. • We maintained close contact with such international agencies as the International Council on Archives and the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield as they and others worked to determine the validity of reports that an irreplaceable Library of early manuscripts in Timbuktu had been destroyed.Thankfully the reports were exaggerated: local citizens and archivists had saved most of the manuscripts. • I visited the Washington, DC, office of the American Library Association (ALA), which is headquarters for the organization’s extensive advocacy efforts, and confirmed that their standing agenda in the area of access to government information very much parallels SAA’s own. It’s clear that we can learn a lot by staying in touch with ALA’s skilled and highly experienced staff in this area. • Finally, SAA participated in a meeting with colleagues representing CoSA, NAGARA, and the National Archives to explore ways in which we might collaborate to make our advocacy efforts more powerful. I hope you agree that this is important work. You’ll see more evidence of SAA’s aim to increase the impact of our advocacy for archivists, archives, and freedom of information issues when our revised strategic priorities are presented to the membership this spring
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