Anne Hartman 2014-09-29 11:51:29
The Unofficial of this year's CoSA/NAGARA/ SAA Joint Annual Meeting, DC, was big. There were big ideas: Session presents sparked inspiration and conversations on an array of tips, from aspirations on the future of archival education to archival assessment projects. Big goals were set in motion. In her incoming presidential remarks, Kathleen Roe urged attendees to join her in a year living dangerously by "committing Some act of advocacy and awareness." And the meeting was successful thanks to their support, shard their Knowledge, ans, most importantly, spread their passion for archives. It was an exceptional week-read on for a few of the many highlights of this year's meeting. SUNDAY AUGUST 10 The week kicked off with nine preconference programs, including these two on Sunday: Archives: Principles and Practices and the DAS course Accessing and Ingest for Electronic Records, where attendees gained knowhow on the policies, resources, and procedures to successfully accession and ingest common born-digital materials. MONDAY AUGUST 11 The Military Archives Roundtable and its chair, Mike Miller, hosted the War of 1812 Staff Ride to study the Chesapeake Campaign of 1814. Attendees toured the battle sites of Bladensburg and Fort McHenry and used letters, diaries, and maps to experience first-hand accounts of the war. TUESDAY AUGUST 12 The eighth annual Research Forum: “Foundations and Innovations” encouraged attendees to “engage in, be aware of, and benefit from research [concerning] organizing, managing, and improving the operation of archives,” said moderator Nancy McGovern. “Presentations that highlight research and development on the implications of linked data for archives have been a popular thread for the past two or three years,” McGovern added. “This year featured several presentations on understanding digital curation and preservation research and practice for archives; on education, training, roles, and skills development for archivists; and on interesting applications of data mining of metadata and content from archival collections.” WEDNESDAY AUGUST 13 Fifty individuals sat for the Digital Archives Specialist Comprehensive Exam. The Regional Archival Associations Consortium met to review the accomplishments of their first year in action and to brainstorm goals for the upcoming years. “This face-to-face meeting was critical to the group’s goal of thinking creatively together to set appropriate plans through 2016,” said Co-chair Amanda Focke. At the Congressional Papers Roundtable Preconference Program, eighty roundtable members and guests discussed the significance of oral history in documenting congressional careers, the results from the roundtable’s most recent electronic records survey, and a presentation of the “largest electronic dataset most repositories received, produced by what are variously called ‘Correspondence Management Systems’ (CMS) in the House, and ‘Constituent Services Systems’ (CSS) in the Senate,” said roundtable member Betsy Pittman. The audience watched a guided presentation of a popular CMS/CSS system, and “for many of the attendees, it was the first opportunity to view in action one of the most significant proprietary electronic management systems, and its resultant dataset, in any congressional office,” Pittman added. The Business Archives Section (BAS) chose the theme “Advocacy in Business Archives” in light of the surprising decision by Target Corporation to let go of its archives staff last year. The group discussed ways to advocate for themselves as archivists within their broader institutions. “We are consultants, and we need to be able to speak the language of our constituents, like marketing departments and CEOs,” said Chair Jamal Booker. “We also need to intelligently explain the value we bring as archivists when we engage on major projects and initiatives with our organizations.” (Bonus: The BAS meeting received a big write-up in Ad Age on September 3, which described archivists as a “marketer’s dream.”) THURSDAY AUGUST 14 During Plenary Session 1, Society of Professional Journalists President and University of Arizona Assistant Professor David Cuillier and Miriam Nisbet, director of NARA’s Office of Government Information Services, explored the new face of government “openness” and shared their differing perspectives on the Freedom of Information Act. In Session 101: Getting Things Done with Born-Digital Collections, speakers stressed that the “born-digital problem is an archival problem with several technology-related components,” said Session Chair Brian Dietz. “As archivists, we should determine priorities, goals, and workflows. We shouldn’t assume that we don’t have the technical capacity to implement some of the software applications we’ll likely be working with.” Attendees of the SAA Now and in the Future: A Town Hall Conversation with SAA Leadership Forum joined in an informal conversation with incoming SAA President Kathleen Roe, SAA Executive Director Nancy Beaumont, and several Council members. “We purposefully came to the forum without an agenda,” said forum organizer Erin Lawrimore. “I wanted to ensure that the topics of conversation were truly the topics that the members wanted to discuss.” Notable topics included changes to the annual meetings; the newly adopted strategic plan; recently created committees, such as the Committee on Public Awareness; and becoming a leader within SAA. During Session 202: Lean In: Archival Management and the Gender Dynamics of Leadership, speakers emphasized that “we need to be our own advocates for change and to find the courage to speak up when we hear or see things that aren’t good. We’re in this as a society,” said Session Chair Cheryl Stadel-Bevans. Attendees met legend Meyer Fishbein— distinguished SAA Fellow, forty-year member of the National Archives and Records Service staff, and SAA Council member from 1973 to 1983—in the Networking Café. FRIDAY AUGUST 15 Dr. Cathy Gorn, executive director of National History Day, spoke Plenary Session 2, “Discovering the Past to be the Future: Inspiring the Next Generation of Engaged Citizens.” Gorn discussed National History Day’s Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Institute, which encourages students not only to remember D-Day, but also to truly understand the soldiers’ personal stories and the reality of their sacrifices. Session 305: Managing Social Media as Official Records attendees learned that while social media records pose challenges and risks, a “social media plan can be a guide to smart social media records retention decisions,” said Session Chair Patricia Franks. Professional Poster Presenters were on hand to have one-on-one conversations about their posters with attendees. “I had never presented at a conference before, and I felt that a poster presentation was a good way to get my feet wet,” said Matt Gorzalski, who presented “Record Group Revision at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.” “I wrote a forthcoming article on the same topic, and I felt that the poster was another way to discuss my article with interested archivists.” Graduate Student Poster Presenters also shared their projects and connected with attendees. “If I learned anything from the experience, it’s that everybody’s looking for the answers to a lot of the same questions, but they’re not always looking for the same answers,” said Beth McDonald, presenter of “Seeing the Archive through Tweets: Three Questions and Eight Considerations for Archiving Twitter.” Attendees walked the halls of the Library of Congress and explored its majestic reading room during the All-Attendee Reception. SATURDAY AUGUST 16 During the lightning talk Session 703: From Crawling to Walking: Improving Access to Web Archives, speakers presented on a variety of methods they are using to integrate access of their web archives with their existing archival and library collections. “The main takeaway was that we are tearing down the silos,” said Session Chair Rosalie Lack. Sci-fi was analyzed from archivists’ perspectives during Session 704: Live Long and Prosper: Science Fiction in Archives and Special Collections. Panelists discussed why archives should preserve records relating to the genre, how science fiction collections are acquired, the challenges involved, and using collection materials for instruction and outreach, said Session Chair Amanda Stow. These are just a few of the many highlights from our week in Washington, DC. For more on this meeting, visit www.archivists.org/2014 or search #saa14 on Twitter. Thank you to everyone who helped make this meeting the big success it was! We’ll see you in Cleveland in August 2015. DC Central Kitchen Service Project A dozen Joint Annual Meeting attendees participated in the third annual community service project, helping to prepare meals at DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) on the morning of August 12. DCCK takes in surplus food from a variety of sources and uses it to make five thousand meals daily. The meals are distributed to one hundred nearby homeless shelters, transitional homes, and nonprofit organizations. I found DCCK through a link on the Archdiocese of Washington’s website. DCCK appeared to be well-established (in existence since 1989), reputable (member of United Way, Charity Navigator 4-Star Charity), and had a strong volunteer program. Plus, it was located just a few Metro stops from our conference hotel, which made it a perfect fit for the Joint Annual Meeting service project. After arriving at DCCK, we watched a short orientation video, and then got to work washing, peeling, and chopping food. Afterward, we were invited to stay for lunch, which allowed participants to talk about the experience and get to know each other better. It was hard work, but we left feeling proud that we helped ensure surplus food would not go to waste and instead be made into nutritious meals distributed to those who needed it most. As a religious archivist working for a community with a mission to serve the poor, it was especially rewarding to have served DC in this way. Recently I was contacted by members of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries who are planning their 2015 meeting in Oakland and would like to do a service project of their own. It was encouraging to know that SAA’s service project is now a model for another organization. Now, on to Cleveland in August 2015, where you can count me in on SAA’s fourth annual community service project! —Carole Prietto, Daughters of Charity Defining Archivist SAA’s new Committee on Public Awareness asked meeting attendees “What is an archivist?” and “What do you tell your mom that you do?” Here are a few of the answers that were jotted down: . “Protector of Democracy” . “Archivists think about the present as the future’s past” . “Information Advocate” . “Archivists enable research, scholarship, discovery, and wonder” . “A friend with knowledge who can help you discover your passion” . “Archivists are the guarantors of individual liberty and the keepers of collective memory, thereby preventing tyranny and collective amnesia!” . “A gatekeeper to link the past with the present!” . “Archivists preserve and tell our stories” My DC Highlights “Heather Briston’s session on the current landscape of copyright and fair use was so compelling that I not only wanted to stand up and cheer, but was also inspired to tweet for the first time.” —Jodi Allison-Bunnell, Orbis Cascade Alliance “The opportunity to attend so many diverse educational sessions, on compelling themes such as oral history access, crowd-sourced transcription, and born-digital content, was one of the top highlights of the Annual Meeting experience. Having the opportunity to present a paper during the Graduate Panel was also an experience I feel privileged to have gained.” —Cindy Taylor, University of Texas at Austin Presidential Address “We are a strong, vital, powerful group with great minds and passionate hearts. We can be effective advocates for our repositories, our profession, and ourselves if we listen to each other,” said outgoing SAA President Danna C. Bell in her inspiring Presidential Address, which can be viewed at http://www2.archivists.org/2014/presidential-address#.VBHe2ZRdUk0. Missed a Session of Interest? Go to www.archivists.org/2014/schedule and click on the session title to access a description and materials. Most education sessions and both plenaries were audio recorded; the recordings on MP3 can be purchased via www.archivists.org/bookstore.
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