SAA Council May meeting wrap up

As I mentioned in the last post, SAA Council met in Chicago earlier this week. I wanted to pass along some highlights of what happened there. At the meeting, Council:

  • Approved public policy issue briefs on declassification and federal funding of archives programs. Returned to the Committee on Public Policy an issue brief on police mobile camera footage to address concerns raised by several individuals.
  • Approved the revised Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning as proposed by TS-GRD and the Standards Committee.
  • Approved formation of a new student chapter at the University of Missouri.
  • Approved minor revisions in the description of the DAS Subcommittee, extending terms to four years and creating the positions of vice chair and immediate past chair as a means of ensuring continuity.
  • Reviewed SAA’s 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, made several refinements in plan-directed activities, and made a number of suggestions in advance of the fuller review of the plan scheduled for the November 2017 Council meeting.
  • Approved a budget for FY18 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018) of $2,627,416 in revenues, $2,623,767 in expenses, with a net gain of $3,649.
  • Agreed to create a task force to explore the feasibility of forming a standing body within SAA to conduct, facilitate, and/or evaluate research/data that is practical, useful, and meaningful for SAA and the archives community. The task force report date is November 2018.
  • Approved an Archives and Archivists of Color Section recommendation to create the Brenda S. Banks Travel Award to support attendance by an archivist of color at her/his first SAA Annual Meeting.
  • Elected Kris Kiesling to serve on the 2017-2018 Executive Committee and Amy Cooper Cary and Bergis Jules to serve on the 2017-2018 Nominating Committee.
  • Disbanded the Committee on Archives, Libraries, and Museums–with thanks.

If you would like more information about the full agenda (including supporting documents), those are available here: The meeting minutes will also be made available as soon as they are completed and approved.

And as always, if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them (or, if can’t answer them, I’m happy to pass you along to the person who can!).

May 2017 Council meeting preparations

Just as a heads up — SAA Council will be meeting in Chicago on May 16th and 17th. If you are a component group leader with an item for the agenda, please contact your group’s Council liaison with your concerns. April 25th is the deadline for putting items on the agenda. The SAA President, as the presiding officer at Council meetings, approves all agenda items. But your Council liaison can help you craft the language and ensure that your item is on the agenda.

If you’re an SAA member who isn’t a component group leader, but you have an item that you would like to bring to Council for action or discussion, please feel free to reach out to me or any other Council member. We want to make sure your voice is heard!

February Conference Call

A quick update … this semester is rough already and is only going to get rougher, but hopefully I can continue to throw out some brief updates on Council activities as we go along….

As most of you know, SAA Council meets face-to-face in November, May, and at the annual meeting (both at the beginning of the annual meeting and at the end). But in between, there’s of course a ton of stuff to do and discuss. Yesterday afternoon (February 6th), we had a Council conference call with a few key items on the agenda. You can see the agenda and related materials here: But here’s a summary of what happened during that call:

Also, for anyone who might have missed it, last week SAA Council issued a statement on the current Administration’s Executive Order Restricting Entry into the United States by Individuals from Seven Muslim-Majority Countries. Please note that an SAA Council statement requires a consensus (not unanimous, but majority) of Council members’ approval before it is officially issued.

And as a final note, there will be loads of information about the annual meeting coming soon. The schedule (at least as it’s proposed right now) is significantly different from in years past. As soon as details are firmed up, you will get that information. But for now, you might not want to book your flight to Portland just yet….

November meeting minutes

The minutes from the November meetings of both the SAA Foundation Board and the SAA Council are now available:

A few points to highlight from the SAA Council meeting minutes:

  • Adopted a revised information brief on the Freedom of Information Act focused on access to federal records as well as transparency and accountability of government agencies.
  • Revised the description of the Committee on Education to create a Graduate Archival Education Subcommittee.
  • Agreed to form a  Committee on Research and Evaluation (CORE) “that is responsible for conducting or facilitating research that is practical, meaningful, and useful for SAA and the archives community.” A committee charge and addition creation plans are still to come.
  • Approved the work plan for implementing Member Affinity Group proposed changes, including the changing of all affinity groups to “sections” (no more roundtables).
  • Annual meeting site selection updates — currently working on contracts for a 2019 meeting in Texas (either Austin or San Antonio — both of which offer excellent tacos, so I’m pleased!) and 2020 meeting in Chicago.

If you want to see any of the documents referenced in the notes, you can find links to everything in the agenda here:

As always, let me know if you have any questions!!

Talking points from November Council meeting

I wanted to pass along some quick talking points that came out of the November Council meeting that was held earlier this week (Monday-Wednesday). I will highlight the next-to-last bullet point, which includes a link out to the member affinity group transition work plan that was approved. If you are a leader of a roundtable (soon to be a section), you should be hearing soon from Felicia Owens with additional details very soon.

So here’s what we did during the Council meeting —
  • Participated in a half-day session on Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Involvement with facilitator DeEtta Jones.
  • Discussed possible revisions in the Strategic Plan 2014-2018 strategies and activities, particularly in light of the facilitated session. A small group of Council members and staff will incorporate suggested changes for full Council review. (III.B.)
  • Adopted “SAA Statement Reaffirming Our Commitment to the Importance of Diversity and Inclusion.”
  • Approved the following consent agenda items:
  • Referred to the ALA/SAA/AAM Joint Committee on Archives, Libraries, and Museums (CALM) a recommendation from the Committee on Public Policy that SAA reconvene a joint working group with the American Library Association to revise the Joint Statement on Access to Research Materials in Archives and Special Collections Libraries, last revised in 2009. (IV.B.)
  • Adopted a revision of the Committee on Education description that includes a newly created Graduate Archival Education Subcommittee. The subcommittee will ensure that SAA is positioned to address critical issues associated with graduate archival education even as the Committee itself continues its focus on continuing education.  As noted in the description, due to resource limitations, SAA and the Graduate Archival Education Subcommittee do not address accreditation issues. (IV.C.)
  • Referred back to the Technical Subcommittee on DACS some questions from the Council about the group’s request for funding to hold a meeting. (IV.D.)
  • Adopted the member affinity groups transition work plan as presented, and adopted “section” as the name for all groups formerly known as a “section” or “roundtable.” The staff and Council liaisons will be reaching out to the groups (via the Leader List and individually) with more information throughout the coming months. (V.B.)
  • Reviewed and discussed the 2016 annual reports of all sections and roundtables as well as several appointed groups. (VI.F. – VI.R.)

Full meeting minutes should be available in a few weeks. But if you have any questions at all, please let me (or if you’re a group leader, your Council liaison) know!

November Council meeting – almost time!

For those who haven’t seen it yet, the agenda and supporting documentation for the SAA Council meeting that will be taking place in Chicago November 14-16 is up on the SAA website. I’m currently reading through the documentation, and there are a few things that I wanted to point out:

  • The transition work plan from the Member Affinity Working Group is up. Council will be discussing the proposed work plan and timeline as well as the needed revisions to governance documents.
  • The compilation of annual reports from all of the various sections/roundtables is available. It’s a 116 page document, so you probably aren’t going to read cover to cover. But there is an increasing interest and emphasis on collaboration between the various SAA component groups. And it’s hard to collaborate if you don’t know what the others are doing! At least give this full document a skim just so you have a better sense of what’s happening across the organization. You never know where you might find a common ground for an interesting collaboration!
  • COPP (Committee on Public Policy) has submitted a new issue brief on “Confidentiality of Private Information Held in Records of the Federal Government’s Executive Agencies.”
  • Immediate past president Dennis Meissner has submitted a proposal to form a new Committee on Research and Evaluation (CORE). From the proposal, “CORE gathers quantitative and qualitative information of strategic value for advocacy, awareness, relevance, audience service, and community engagement. CORE evaluates this information and surfaces it to members in dashboards, reports, and data sets that members can use to better understand and act upon their environments.”

Additionally, the Council meeting will actually begin on Monday afternoon with a workshop on diversity and inclusion, led by DeEtta Jones. We will continue the conversation on Tuesday  with an update from the Council Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion and a discussion of ways in which SAA – and us as individual professionals and organizational leaders – can advance diversity and inclusion within SAA and the archival profession. This is an area where I would love feedback from members. What are your thoughts?

Here are my personal thoughts — me as an individual and not anything “official” or decided by Council as a whole. One thing I would personally love to see is an extension of the cultural competency training that Helen Wong Smith has conducted. I would love to see a “train the trainer” system in collaboration with state/local archival organizations and RAAC (Regional Archival Associations Consortium). I would love this type of regional approach to ask people to question both inclusion within their own professional association/environment and within their collections/collecting work. I’m also hoping that we can more heavily highlight some of the important initiatives being carried out within SAA component groups that might serve as inspiration for others. Also — again this is me speaking as an individual and not as “Council” (the whole) — I want to see SAA more vocally speak out, frequently reaffirming the organization’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion in the profession and to its professionals, in both actions and words.

So, that’s what coming up next week. I’m going to be the somewhat odd position of participating in the Council meeting virtually. For those of you who haven’t heard, one of my corgis (Jasper) is facing the possibility of back surgery for a ruptured disk in his lower back. We went to a neurologist earlier this week for a consultation and an MRI, and we’re still in the phase of determining whether he will be able to recover on his own with strict crate rest and pain medicine or if he will need back surgery to remove the disk. He was given a 50-60% chance of recovering on his own, and he’s showing some early signs of recovery. But he’s got a long road ahead, and I’ll need to be here to keep a close eye on him throughout the next few days. Barring any emergencies, I should be able to participate fully in the meeting. It stinks, but, anyone who knows me knows that my corgis are my babies. I can’t leave when one is hurting.

So, please message me on Twitter (@barkivist) or email (elawrimore32 at gmail) with your thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc. I genuinely want to hear from folks because I want to be a representative for you….

Try 5 – try it!

We’ve got a few more days before the first batch of materials for the November Council meetings are available, so in the meanwhile, I wanted to make sure folks know about current SAA President Nance McGovern’s “Try5” Initiative.  This initiative encourages archivist to try five new technical things and share their experiences. Fellow Council member Bert Lyons just published a blog post about his ideas for Try5.

So, I’m a person who in interested in technology as long as it’s something that helps me achieve my own interests. I’m not afraid of tech but I’m also not going to try it just for funsies. Also, our work computers are configured in a way in which I can’t update iTunes without having to call our library IT department to enter their admin password, so I’m kind of limited in my ability to try new things – either it needs to be something that doesn’t require something to be installed on my computer or it needs to be something that our library IT people will allow to be installed on my computer. My “technical” is going to be different from others’.

My personal interests and current work is much more heavily focused on using new tools for outreach than on digital preservation. I’m a university archivist and our university’s 125th birthday is next year, so we’re really working hard to develop timelines, exhibits, oral histories, and other materials that will be heavily used by others throughout the university during the anniversary celebration. So here are the five technical things that I’ll be trying this year as we look at new ways of collecting and presenting this kind of information online:

  • Knight Lab tools (this counts for two!). The Knight Lab at Northwestern University has created a suite of free (hooray!) tools that can aid in storytelling. The primary audience for the tools is journalists, but there are clear applications for archivists. We’re already using the very easy-to-use TimelineJS (see an example), but I want to explore JuxtaposeJS (frame comparisons for then-and-now) and StorymapJS (mapping of stories). I will also be teaching our students and staff how to use these tools. We may even be doing some basic workshops for faculty who are interested in dipping their toes into digital humanities work.
  • Oral histories on video/video editing. We’re currently doing audio-only oral histories, which can limit in some ways the use of these interviews outside of the research environment. We’re hoping to move into video next semester as our student researchers continue to conduct interviews in preparation for our 125th. The trick is, I don’t know how to do much other than press record when it comes to video. So I’m going to be working with our Digital Media Commons and others on campus to figure out what the heck we need to do to produce video oral histories that are of high quality.
  • Skype oral history interviews. More oral history stuff. To be blunt, North Carolina is a long state and we really don’t even have the ability to send our student interviewers outside of the area between Charlotte and Raleigh (about an hour and a half in either direction from here). But we’re making a push to document these important, usually underdocumented, stories. Of course, many of those people who are willing to share those stories live nowhere near here. So we’re going to be playing around with Skype as a tool for oral history interviews. I think I’ve used Skype three or four times total in my whole life. So it’s new to me even though every other person on earth is probably completely comfortable with it.
  • Instagram. I know how to use it. I have a lovely Instagram that consists solely of pictures of my dogs. And I pretty much exclusively follow other dogs — and some goats. But I don’t really have a concept of how to use Instagram for my work in the archives. So that will be what I’m trying — to figure out we can use it to reach our students. How can we (or can we) fit it into our existing social media work? We’ve done well with Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. And we should have done this a while back. But better late than never, I suppose!

And as a “fingers crossed but might not happen with all of the other 125th craziness going on” sixth thing….

  • ePADD. This one has been on the list for a while. We’ve got a system for acquiring, preserving, and providing access to born-digital records — except email. We don’t know what to do with email. First, we’ve got to work with campus ITS to simply acquire the email. That’s going to be a beast in and of itself. But we also need to figure out what to do with the email once it’s here. And ePADD looks like it might fit the bill. I don’t anticipate I’ll be able to do much more than download and play around with my own email during this upcoming year — but that counts!!

So, those are the five things I’m going to try to try. 🙂

I’ll be sharing my experiences here, and I hope that others will dive into the Try5 initiative too!!