Anne Hartman 2015-10-07 23:15:06
Archives extend lives. Archives organize lives. Archives brighten lives. Archives change lives. ARCHIVES 2015 gave nearly 1,800 attendees the chance to celebrate archives and the ways in which they enrich society. Archivists headed to Cleveland in mid-August to share details about projects that have benefited others—from efforts to work with communities to preserve their heritage to using material objects from archival collections to help students envision the past. Speakers also inspired, encouraging archivists to reach out to the public and describing how they’re helping others to gain a better understanding of archives’ and archivists’ significance. There were many more highlights—from enriching courses and workshops to alumni mixers and networking opportunities. Read on for a glimpse of the action-packed week. Sunday, August 16 • The week kicked off with several workshops and DAS courses, including Digital Forensics for Archivists: Fundamentals, during which attendees explored how the digital forensics tools and processes can be applied in an archival setting, and how they can help support archival principles such as provenance, chain of custody, and original order. “I hope [the attendees] left with more questions than answers—the fundamentals course provides an introduction but is really just the beginning of what you can learn in this area,” said Instructor Marty Gengenbach. Digital Forensics for Archivists: Advanced—held on Monday—helped attendees dive further into the topic. Monday, August 17 • Monday’s schedule was packed with additional workshops and DAS courses, including Architectural Records: Managing Design and Construction Records, Privacy and Confidentiality Issues in Digital Archives, and Archives: Principles and Practices. Tuesday, August 18 • Many attendees gave back while in Cleveland. Nine individuals sorted, counted, and packed about forty boxes of donated clothing for local children at Shoes and Clothes for Kids. Dog and cat lovers also faced off in a friendly competition that benefitted the Cleveland Animal Protective League. Participants voted for their favorite image of a dog or cat from the archives in a March Madness– style competition. Organizer Caryn Radick reports that the contest brought in more than $3,400 and donations of blankets, food, toys, and office supplies. • At the 2015 Research Forum “Foundations and Innovations,” researchers, practitioners, students, and the curious discussed and debated research projects and initiatives. One of the many inspiring projects that was discussed was Justin A. Rudder’s “African Heritage in Alabama,” a beta-phase initiative that promotes the awareness and accessibility of information about African American history in Alabama through the development of a state catalog portal for searching artifact and archival collections, a GIS platform that allows the visualization of data from these collections of information, and a campaign to promote a stronger web presence among African American cultural institutions throughout the state. The experience, Rudder said, gave him the opportunity to meet other archivists and potential collaborators on future projects and to “emphasize that archivists must build bridges with and gain the trust of underrepresented populations to ensure all citizens’ stories are preserved for posterity.” • Tuesday’s lineup included several repository tours, such as the Kent State University 45th Anniversary Tour. Kent State University was thrust into the international spotlight on May 4, 1970, after thirteen students were shot by members of the Ohio National Guard at a student demonstration. Tour participants saw exhibitions at the May 4 Visitors Center and the Special Collections and Archives at Kent State University and were given a guided tour of the site of the shootings by Dr. Jerry M. Lewis, a faculty eyewitness to the events. “I hope that participants learned about not only the historical significance of the event within the Vietnam War era and antiwar movement in America, but also how individuals and Kent State as an institution survived this terrible event,” said Cara Gilgenbach, head of Special Collections and Archives at Kent State. Wednesday, August 19 • Participants of the Museum Archives Section Standards and Best Practices Working Group Symposium spent the morning discussing museum archives, advocacy, and collaboration. A key takeaway from the symposium: “The success of an archival program is not determined solely by its quality,” said Working Group Co-chair Susan Hernandez. “Instead, successful archival programs build a fan base through aggressive sharing and collaboration with colleagues.” • Repository tours continued on Wednesday, including one of ICA – Art Conservation, a nonprofit regional conservation center for artistic and historic works. Tour goers “toured ICA’s Objects, Paintings, Paper, and Textiles conservation labs along with the historic Vitrolite room at our fine art storage facility” and were “introduced to the kind of detailed examination, testing, treatment, and preservation care applied to objects, artifacts, documents, and ephemera of all kinds at a comprehensive conservation center like ICA,” said Jennifer Souers Chevraux, education and outreach officer at ICA. • Forty-three individuals took the Digital Archives Specialist Comprehensive Examination. • The SAA Bookstore opened its doors, and attendees browsed classics and new titles, such as Archives in Libraries: What Librarians and Archivists Need to Know to Work Together and Encoded Archival Description Tag Library – Version EAD3. Thursday, August 20 • “It’s a struggle to be remembered, and you help people in that struggle,” Daniel Horowitz Garcia, the Atlanta regional manager for StoryCorps, told the audience of Plenary 1: Telling the Stories of Archives and Archivists. The plenary focused on storytelling—why it connects people and how it can help archivists explain the importance of what they do. Garcia urged the audience to “give an ear to the earless,” to help others to hear the stories that might otherwise be lost. “Your story keeps other people’s stories alive,” Garcia said. “One way you help and need to help is by making sure that things like archives continue to exist. You must advocate for the resources you need. And you do that by telling your story and connecting to other people’s.” Tom Owen, vice president of PGAV Destinations, asked attendees to write on index cards a six-word story about why archives matter or why they do what they do. The cards were collected at the end of the plenary. “You have great stories to tell. You believe in what you do. Why wouldn’t you put the power of narrative storytelling to work?” Owen asked. • Graduate Student and Professional Poster Presenters took the spotlight to share their research and have one-onone conversations with attendees. “I got to speak to so many wonderful people, and it felt like there was a lot of interest in the subject from professionals,” said Anna Kresmer, who presented “The Value of Braille in Archival Collections.” “It was awesome to see people have those ‘a-ha’ moments.” • Thursday also kicked off the education sessions. Speakers at the Archives Confidential: Enacting Privacy Policies and Requirements in Digital Archives session addressed workflows for born-digital materials that consider privacy and sensitivity concerns. “I hope that [attendees] realized that the session title ‘Archives Confidential’ was a bit of a misnomer,” said Session Chair Meg Tuomala. “All of the policies, workflows, and tools discussed in the session actually create an environment that allows us to responsibly provide access to these types of materials.” • ARCHIVES 2015 offered the inaugural round of Pop-Up Sessions, envisioned as a way to liven up the annual program by focusing on ideas and content that came up between November (when the customary program sessions are selected) and August. One Pop-Up Session was Let’s Talk about FOIA: An Open Dialogue on Archives and Public Records, which detailed Northern Michigan University’s response to a federal lawsuit in which a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was the catalyst. “It took an alleged scandal at my institution to bring my attention to [FOIA], so I can only hope that session attendees left with a desire to be more proactive when it comes to how their institution handles FOIA and public records,” said Session Chair Sara Kiszka, who noted that Pop-Up Sessions added “a level of relevancy that otherwise wouldn’t be prevalent.” • The Secret Life of Records, a forum sponsored by the Diversity Committee, explored the collection development, acquisition, preservation, and ethics of collecting records that are documenting a current civil rights movement against police brutality, said Forum Chair Stacie Williams. Through attending the forum, Williams said, “we hope that people understand that different voices, perspectives, and formats are essential to documenting the ‘whole’ of a thing.” • Archivists took over the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to cap off the day at the All-Attendee Reception. Attendees spent the evening listening to the songs that shaped rock and roll; learning about the roots of blues, gospel, country, and R&B; and taking in Lake Erie views on a picture-perfect night. Friday, August 21 • In Plenary 2: The Leadership Plenary, outgoing SAA President Kathleen Roe reflected on “The Year of Living Dangerously for Archives,” urging attendees to continue to push themselves outside of their comfort zones to advocate for their profession. “Archives have impact,” Roe said. “Archives matter. And it is up to us to show people the truth of that. To give them the opportunity and benefit of what archives can do. We all, each of us, need to step forward and take action, on behalf of archives, on behalf of our profession, on behalf of our society.” New SAA President Dennis Meissner will continue Roe’s efforts to help members reach users and potential users, and during the plenary he described the importance of having meaningful data in advocacy and outreach. • In Session 303: You Do What? Nontraditional Outreach that Works, speakers discussed ways that institutions of varying sizes and missions have gotten creative in their outreach methods to reach new audiences and further engage existing ones. The panelists “stressed saying ‘yes’ to new ideas whenever possible; being creative, experimental, and flexible in ideas and collaboration; that outreach doesn’t have to be high-tech to be effective; and that outreach doesn’t have to cost a lot of money,” said Session Chair Caitlin Christian-Lamb. • Session 501: What’s in the Box? Caring for Unusual Materials in the Collections covered the unexpected— materials such as nitrate negatives, human remains, guns, tear gas, and pharmaceuticals that have been found in archival collections. Speakers talked about the preservation, ethical, and legal concerns regarding these items. “If you find unusual materials in your collections, know that you are not alone, and that other institutions have successfully dealt with them in the past,” said Session Chair Dawne Howard Lucas. Saturday, August 22 • During Session 702: Controversial Crawling: Documenting University Scandal in Real Time, three speakers discussed how web archiving was used during controversial situations at academic institutions. “We hope the attendees [left feeling] empowered to collect web-based material, even about negative or controversial moments in their institution’s history, and to develop a thoughtful policy about when and to what extent they would collect those materials,” said Session Chair Valerie Gillispie. These are just a few of the many highlights from our week in Cleveland. For more on this meeting, visit www.archivists.org/2015 or search #saa15 on Twitter. Thank you to everyone who helped make this meeting the big success it was! We’ll see you in Atlanta in 2016. Missed a Session of Interest? Go to https://archives2015.sched.org/ 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. Need to De-Stress? Our new coloring book Archival Mindfulness: A Coloring Book & Catalog for Professional Enlightenment debuted in the SAA Bookstore. If you didn’t pick up a copy—or if you’ve already colored your way through your first copy—worry not! Check out this complimentary downloadable version: http://files.archivists.org/pubs/SAAColoringBook2015.pdf.
Published by Society of American Archivists. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/Archives+2015/2289209/275633/article.html.