There are many reasons why Cal Lee is “someone you should know.” He’s a celebrated professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an SAA Fellow, a prolific writer, and an avid proponent of the BitCurator environment, which is free and open-source software for applying digital forensic methods to curate collections. Now there’s one more reason: he’s the new editor of The American Archivist, SAA’s peer-reviewed, biannual journal. We talked with Cal about his first experience with the journal and his advice for potential contributors. SAA: Tell us about your first encounter with The American Archivist. CL: I encountered The American Archivist during my first year as a master’s student at the University of Michigan School of Information. I took a class called Social Systems and Collections, and I was struck by the pressing societal needs around digital preservation. I felt I had found my professional calling. During the remainder of my time in the program, I read widely in the archival literature. The American Archivist was at the epicenter of this. I spent many hours in the library stacks, browsing the shelves that held the full back-run of the journal. I don’t know how many articles I ended up photocopying, reading, and marking up, but it was a lot. The product of these activities still occupies a lot of space in my filing cabinets. That was twenty years ago. If I were a student now, I could take advantage of the full run of The American Archivist online. SAA: What are your goals for the journal? CL: I’m honored to be building on such a strong foundation. Greg Hunter, and the editors before him, have advanced a high standard of quality, and the articles have spanned a variety of topics. My main goals are to further advance the journal by soliciting and publishing a broad range of contributions that represent the growth and evolution of the profession. I want members of SAA to see The American Archivist as an essential venue for investigating and hashing out professional issues. SAA: What advice do you have for first-time contributors to the journal? CL: If you have something that you’d like to contribute to the journal, ask yourself “What specifically will this be adding to the archival literature?” This can take numerous forms. For example, you might want to report on an innovative professional practice within your institution, challenge an existing theoretical concept, explain a key moment in the history of the profession based on analysis of primary sources, or report on an empirical study that you’ve conducted. In any case, you should be contributing something new and valuable. This is one reason why reading the existing archival literature is so important. You want to convey to the reader what you can build upon and then what you’re adding to the discussion. SAA: Are there pressing issues the archives profession should be talking about? CL: I’d encourage potential authors to think of trends and issues in the wider world that touch on the “archival enterprise” broadly conceived. For example, there are important discussions related to inclusion, diversity, and social justice. There are many fields and communities shaping the future of digital collections, and our journal should reflect those wider sets of activities. At the same time, the profession benefits from reporting on advances within longstanding archival practices (e.g., appraisal, preservation, description, reference, records management). The American Archivist should both reflect the conversations that archivists are having today and shape the conversations they’ll have tomorrow. Interested in contributing to The American Archivist? Find submission guidelines at www2.archivists.org /american-archivist/submissions.
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