Abigail Christian 2016-09-26 14:52:36
More than 1,650 archivists from around the country and world joined us in Atlanta for the Joint Annual Meeting of CoSA and SAA, July 31–August 6! At ARCHIVES RECORDS 2016, attendees benefited from pre-conference continuing education courses and workshops, roundtable and section members met to share experiences, and presenters discussed the success of outreach efforts to underdocumented communities, the challenges of handling difficult content, best practices on archiving born-digital records, and much more. Attendees left tired and maybe a little sweaty (Atlanta is hot in August!), but energized to return home and put into practice the ideas and tools they encountered at ARCHIVES RECORDS 2016 Here are a few highlights from the busy week. Monday, August 1 • The week kicked off with several workshops and education courses, including the debut of Arrangement and Description: Fundamentals, part of the new A&D Certificate Program which launched earlier this year. Other A&D courses were Describing Archives: A Content Standard and Arrangement and Description of Audiovisual Materials. “I hope [students] walked away understanding that arrangement and description are context-dependent and that professional best practices are there to help us navigate our circumstances,” said Sarah Quigley of Emory University, who taught the workshop for the first time. “I also hope they realized that they’re part of an encouraging and supportive professional community that’s always there to help think through questions and find solutions.” Additional workshops and DAS courses included Digital Forensics for Archivists: Fundamentals and Advanced, Copyright Law for Archivists: A Risk Assessment Approach, and Command Line Interface. Tuesday, August 2 • Many attendees gave back while in Atlanta. Ten people contributed their time in helping to upkeep the Historic Oakland Cemetery by replanting irises. “It was definitely a fun, enthusiastic group, despite being hot and sweaty!” said Angelique Richardson, archivist at the Archdiocese of Atlanta who organized the project. Other attendees donated wish-list items such as crocheted blankets, pet food, dog toys, office supplies for staff, and more to Furkids, a no-kill animal shelter in Atlanta. The second “Animals from the Archives” contest run by ArchivesNext raised more than $1,700 for Furkids. • The 2016 Research Forum on “Foundations and Innovations” celebrated its 10th year. Researchers, practitioners, students, and the curious discussed new research projects and initiatives and reflected on the past ten years of the forum. One such session, presented by Daniel Noonan and Micah Altman, considered observations, trends, and gaps in the Forum’s history. “Through more than 190 papers and 210 posters, presenters have tackled topics that range from the more exotic digital realm, such as alternative media types, digital forensics, and ‘big data,’ to ones that deal with the more mundane (but fundamental and core) topics of access and description, archival management, and the role of archives in society,” said Noonan. “If the Forum can improve in one area, it would be building upon that diversity of backgrounds and actively encouraging more non-academic-related research and participation.” • Tuesday’s lineup included several repository tours, such as one to the newly renovated Auburn Avenue Research Library (AARL), which officially reopened to the public later that week. “[The tour] was the first time that a group not related to the construction got to see the 20 million dollar renovation. Attendees were excited,” said AARL’s archivist Derek Mosley. With its roots as the first library branch open to African Americans in Atlanta, the library is also the first in the southeast to offer specialized reference and archival collections dedicated to the study and research of African American culture and history and of other peoples of African descent. Wednesday, August 3 • Participants of the SAA Visual Materials Section Collaborative Workshop shared challenges and best practices of working with born-digital visual materials and being proactive with donors. “This [workshop] gave me a really good background understanding of digital photography and photo files. I’d love to have the conversation continue . . . On automation, tools, strategies for communicating with photographers and public relations, hybrid collections, [and] privacy policies,” said one participant. The Visual Materials Section is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. • Repository tours continued on Wednesday including a tour to the Special Collections and Archives at Georgia State University (GSU) Library, which documents the twentieth and twenty-first century American South and houses the Southern Labor Archives, the Archives for Research on Women and Gender, and the GSU Archives. Visitors explored early twentieth-century glass plate negatives that were geo-referenced to current locations, the exhibit for the Johnny Mercer papers, and the archives’ digitization suite. “It was wonderful to share our collections with archivists from all over the country—and beyond!” said GSU archivist Traci Drummond. • Twenty-three people took the Digital Archives Specialist Comprehensive Examination. • The SAA Bookstore opened its doors, and attendees browsed classics and new titles, such as Teaching with Primary Sources and Digital Preservation Essentials, both of which sold out during the meeting. (However, copies are still available through the SAA Bookstore!) • SAA’s Women Archivists Roundtable (WAR) hosted the very first Wikipedia edit-a-thon in which attendees created and improved Wikipedia articles related to women archivists. Thirty people attended in person while several archivists contributed remotely, creating eighteen new articles, including one for the late SAA Past President Brenda Banks, and revising several more. Keynote speaker Michele Pacifico shared reflections from her article “Founding Mothers: Women in the Society of American Archivists, 1936–1972” from The American Archivist (1987). Thursday, August 4 • Partnering with the LifeSouth Community Blood Center allowed attendees to give back without ever leaving the hotel. The blood drive yielded 20 pints of life-saving blood (enough to help 60 patients) for the Atlanta community! We’re grateful to the 23 individuals who made the effort to donate—and to Pamela Nye of the Host Committee for making the blood drive happen. • “Inclusion doesn’t happen by accident,” Chris Taylor, director of inclusion and community engagement at the Minnesota Historical Society, told the audience during Plenary 1: Getting Our House in Order: Moving from Diversity to Inclusion. The plenary focused on identifying how the profession can support and incorporate inclusion into the foundation of our work and understanding what barriers individuals and organizations put up that prevent others from knowing how to participate. Only then can outward efforts to connect with underserved communities be successful. “As privileged organizations, we often have on blinders,” said Taylor, who asked the audience to consider how its institutions may contribute to dominant culture ways of thinking. “Inclusion isn’t stepping into another’s shoes,” said Taylor. “It is having empathy for difference and being open and flexible as much as you can.” • Graduate Student and Professional Poster Presenters took the spotlight to share their research and have one-on-one conversations with attendees. “This was my second SAA poster presentation as a graduate student, and I’ve really enjoyed sharing my work related to professional interests with the archival community,” said Treshani Perera, from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, who presented her poster “From Analog to Digital: A VHS Digitization Workflow.” • Thursday also kicked off the education sessions. Speakers in Session 109: I Second That Emotion: Working with Emotionally Challenging Collections drew on their own experiences of processing, working with donors, and supporting research interactions in collections related to national and community tragedies. Panelists also challenged the audience with questions that don’t always have an answer—or at least not an easy one: Who decides what gets saved? Who is the collection serving: mourners, survivors, community, activists, institutions, self? What policies are in place and do they need to change in times of tragedy? How do archivists cope with their own grief? • In Session 208: Accessible Archives and Special Collections, panelists from diverse professional backgrounds shared best practices for designing digital and physical exhibits, creating public programming, using staff resources, and collaborating across departments to improve accessibility of collections and services. One piece of practical advice: Sometimes you just need to make exceptions to the “no touching” rule with exhibits. • The second year of Pop-Up Sessions allowed attendees to focus on ideas and content that came up between November (when the customary program sessions are selected) and August. One such session was Session 111: Archives and Digital Inequality, which provided a forum to discuss the ethical implications of using digital archives to document diasporic communities while possibly disenfranchising communities from accessing their own heritage and knowledge. Organizers used a 2012 article by South African archivists Peter Johan Lor and J.J. Britz as a springboard for discussion. Attendees stressed the importance of outreach and building ongoing relations of trust, including developing ethical ownership models for born-digital or digitized materials. “Digital repatriation is not an alternative to repatriation,” emphasized one participant. Some participants emphasized the critical role of public libraries in providing access to technology, and highlighted the importance of collaborating more closely with librarians. Friday, August 5 • During a coffee and pancakes break in the Exhibit Hall, attendees tasted Rosa Parks’s Featherlite Peanut Butter Pancakes, the recipe courtesy of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. Sponsored by the SAA Foundation, the pancake break highlighted the Mosaic Scholarship Fund, which provides tuition assistance and mentoring support to graduate students from traditionally underrepresented groups. • A Silent Auction, organized by the SAA Preservation Section, raised more than $1,700 for the National Disaster Recovering Fund for Archives! Auctioned items were donated by archivists from around the country and included cookbooks, wine, handcrafted jewelry, pottery, and more. • The two-part All-Attendee Reception was held at the World of Coca-Cola, where attendees had the chance to taste Coca-Cola products from around the world, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights next door—a moving experience highlighting historical and contemporary human rights movements around the world. • In Plenary 2, outgoing SAA President Dennis Meissner looked ahead to the directions we may move our culture so that the profession may continue to change and grow, noting that first we must become something before we can take real action. “First and most important, we need to become a more inclusive profession,” said Meissner. “Second, we need to become a profession of advocates. And third, we need to become a profession of givers. • In Session 304: Out of the Shadows: Bringing Black Collections Together through Radical Partners, speakers discussed efforts to expand the historical record in African American collections for students, scholars, and the general public through technology and radical institutional partnerships. Saturday, August 6 • During Session 605: Reaching from the Other Side: New Initiatives in Archives Teaching and Learning, a panel of speakers shared their collaborative, innovative, and even subversive methods of teaching with and in archives as well as highlighted tools, fellowships, and other resources for archival educators. Panelist Dara Baker advised attendees to skip the “defend the archives” speech when building new partnerships and instead highlight what the archives can do for them. • At the Annual Membership (Business) Meeting, outgoing President Dennis Meissner, Executive Director Nancy Beaumont, Treasurer Cheryl Stadel-Bevans, and incoming President Nance McGovern provided an overview of the past year at SAA and what to look forward to in the coming year. The floor was also open for questions and comments on the Council-proposed constitution and bylaws amendments that will be put forward in an all-member referendum this fall. Good questions were asked and members seemed in favor overall of the amendments to handle Council vacancies and the timeline for all-member referendums. For more on this meeting, visit www.archivists.org/2016 or search #saa16 on Twitter. Thank you to everyone who helped make this meeting the big success it was! We’ll see you in Portland in 2017. Stop, Breathe, Color Last year’s coloring book was such a hit, we brought it back! If you didn’t pick up this year’s version of Archival Mindfulness: A Coloring Book & Catalog for Professional Enlightenment—or if you’ve already colored your way through your first copy—worry not! You can download it here for free: http://files.archivists.org/pubs/SAAColoringBook2016.pdf. Missed a Session of Interest? Go to https://archives2016.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 were included in the registration fee and can be purchased by non-attendees via http://saa.archivists.org/store/archives-records-2016-conference-recordings-on-mp3/5155/. SAA Thanks the Following Sponsors for Their Generous Support! Ancestry Family Search APPX Atlas Systems Crawford Media Services Gaylord Archival Hollinger Metal Edge Libnova Preservation Technologies Preservica
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