Catching up with Council work

Long time, no update. Sorry about that! September is the single busiest month in our University Archives, and this one has been particularly hectic. We have six student researchers (three undergrads, three grad students — all paid!!) who will be working with us this year on projects related to our upcoming 125th anniversary. And we have 73 classes booked this semester (for perspective, we had 100 in all of last year, and that was a 56% increase in classes over the previous year — and we’re not a huge staff at all). Next week, I have my final seven classes of the semester, which will wrap things up for me until the Spring.

But, with SAA Council, the work has been largely focused on liaison work. Many of my liaison groups have had conference calls for planning, and I’ve been able to listen in on some and unfortunately had to miss others. I just got off of the phone with the good folks of the Records Management steering committee. But it’s so interesting to learn more about what all of the various component groups are working on – especially since all of my liaison groups are groups I’ve never personally been a member of. There are a lot of really smart and passionate people who do a lot of volunteer work in an effort to make this organization and the profession stronger.

Council has also had a few email-based discussions and votes on things like component group bylaw revisions that were submitted after the annual meeting (groups that had the revisions as a part of their section ballot and the revisions passed). There has also been some discussion – but no decisions made – about scheduling adjustments that may be needed for the 2017 annual meeting, given that Saturday will dedicated to the forum on .

And finally, one thing that has popped up as a question from a few people — What’s the timeline for the switch to “everyone is a section?” This is an on-going project. SAA staff is working on an implementation plan for the transition, and they will be getting oversight from the Council Working Group on Member Affinity Groups. There should be a presentation of the initial plan to Council at our in-person meeting in mid-November. That will, of course, be posted online along with the other documents related to topics of discussion at that meeting.

Finally, the SAA Foundation Board and the Council will hold back-to-back meetings in Chicago, November 13–16. If you would like to propose an agenda item for either group, send a summary via email to Governance Coordinator Felicia Owens no later than Friday, October 9.

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August 6th Council meeting (and what I’m currently thinking re: my spot on Council)

As I mentioned in my last post, the SAA annual meeting wrapped up for me with a short Council meeting. This was the first for Courtney, Bert, and me as officially seated, voting Council members. This meeting was very short (just over an hour long), and was primarily scheduled so that we could discuss any issues that arose over the course of the meeting. So the agenda was very light.

One thing that all of the Council members are asked to do is complete an annual Conflict of Interest form. SAA doesn’t exclude individuals with ties to vendors or competing organizations from having an elected seat on Council but they do ask you to disclose any potential conflicts of interest (and update the form immediately if something arises over the course of the year).

We also discussed our meeting times for in-person Council meetings in Chicago. We’ll be meeting in mid-November (November 14-16 to be specific) to look at strategic planning, and in mid-May (still not firmly set, but probably May 15-17) to discuss the budget. Both of these meetings will be essentially one half day, one whole day, and then one half day — allowing most of us to travel in and out on those half days.

We got an update from Terry Baxter on the Program Committee work for the 2017 annual meeting in Portland. If you haven’t seen it already, the call for proposals is officially up (and due November 18). This does not, however, include the Saturday forum titled The Liberated Archive: A Forum for Envisioning and Implementing a Community-Based Approach to Archives. Calls for proposals for that will come out in January 2017.For those who are wondering, SAA is also thinking about adjusting the timing of the annual business meeting (usually held at the end of the annual meeting) in order to better accommodate the forum, which they are hoping will draw a number of non-archivists. No decision on that has been made, but know that it is being discussed.

Finally, we went around the room and let folks talk about specific projects they would like to see SAA address over the next year or so. Many people discussed a desire to work on the growth of cultural competency training (which will be free of charge, including a free in-person workshop by Helen Wong Smith prior to the Portland meeting). Personally, I talked about how we can develop a “train the trainer” sort of system in conjunction with the state and regional archival associations in order to maximize the reach for these types of workshops/trainings. Can we use these networks to reach more archivists? And can SAA help these state and regional associations take a close look at collections and collecting practices within their areas in order to identify silences (and advocate for ways to fill them). I’m also interested in a similar style of training and collaboration in the areas of public awareness, media relations, and advocacy. How can SAA collaborate with RAAC (Regional Archival Associations Consortium) and expand the reach for these important initiatives?

I also mentioned in this meeting a desire to build off of the “community of giving” that outgoing president Dennis Meissner mentioned in his presidential address on Friday afternoon. In discussing the need for SAA to build a donor culture, Dennis recognized that not everyone has the capacity to financially contribute to SAA — and that’s totally true [I finished undergrad in 1999 and grad school in 2003, and I’ve still got another 10 years to go in paying off student loans with little to no cost of living increases from the State of NC, so I understand – and recognize that I’ve still got it good compared to many].

What I would love to do is expand on this notion of a “giving culture” and make it a bit more inclusive and empowering for the archivists who don’t have the financial means to contribute more money but have a desire to contribute in other ways. I don’t have any specific ideas set about how to do this, but a few things have cropped up (and are still hazy):

  • Empower archivists to become better advocates for key SAA initiatives. If the Mosaic Scholarship, for instance, means a lot to us, but we cannot personally contribute to its financial future, what can we do? (Thanks to Stephanie Bennett for asking this on Twitter!) How can we effectively advocate with our vendors, our employing institutions, private foundations/donors, etc. to develop important programs within our professional association? We’ve got some clout even if we don’t always personally have the dollars. How can we use it?
  • Encourage the hundreds of people who contribute their time to SAA to quantify that in some way so that we have a broader sense of the “giving culture” that exists. People want to see that members are committed to their organization. Financial contributions are critical, but so are the contributions of time.
  • Think about project-specific microfunding opportunities that we might have. Basically, are there any SAA projects or initiatives that could use Kickstarter-style backing to get off of the ground? This wouldn’t be a good option for long-term sustainability, of course. But it might be a good way to build a ground swell of support that could in turn grow into a more stable means of support.

If you have further ideas for how we might do this, please let me know!! Again, these are still very much in the percolating stage. And, to be honest, these aren’t things that are going to magically be “complete” at the end of Year One. I’m just personally interested in moving these conversations forward.

I’m also interested in other key initiatives you might be interested in seeing SAA address in the coming year. Again, these ideas are just my perspective — there are 11 other Council members who have many other ideas (not to mention financial constraints, time constraints, etc.) — but I’m more than happy to listen and learn and bring issues forward. You can contact me here, on Twitter (@barkivist), or email (elawrimore32 –at– gmail). You can also contact any other Council member or Nancy Beaumont (SAA’s Executive Director).

What I Did in Atlanta: the SAA Annual Meeting as a Newly Elected Council Member

I’m finally home and settled in after a long week in Atlanta for SAA’s annual meeting. I wrote a few days ago about our August 1st Council meeting that took place while we were there. But I also wanted to write a bit about the experience of attending Council as a newly-elected Council member. This year’s annual meeting was a particularly crazy one because I was balancing obligations from pre- and post-Council election.

So, here are a few of the pre-Council election things that I was able to do:

  • Presented a five-minute lightning round talk about our archives’ implementation of the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS) and our integration of OHMS into our everyday oral history workflow as part of Session 506 (You Are Not Alone!: Navigating the Implementation of New Archival Systems) on Friday afternoon.
  • Met on Wednesday afternoon with new and returning members of SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) to discuss our work last year, to brainstorm on future work, and to discuss some bigger picture issues with members of the Committee on Public Policy (COPP). I was one of the founding members of COPA and served as vice-chair this past year.
  • Spoke about the work of COPA at the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable meeting on Friday morning with incoming COPA chair Sami Norling. The I&ART meeting also featured an archival advocacy dream team panel discussion with Rand Jimerson, Kathleen Roe, and David Gracy. I’m so glad I was able to be there for that.
  • Helped coordinate the Marketplace of Ideas at the Reference, Access, and Outreach (RAO) Section meeting on Friday afternoon. I finished up a two-year stint on the RAO steering committee at this annual meeting. At the RAO meeting itself, my responsibility was quite light, thankfully. Mainly I worked with others on the steering committee to make sure that folks rotated through the Marketplace vendors on the designated twenty-minute schedule.
  • Participated in a mock interview session as part of the ARL/SAA Mosaic Leadership Forum on Tuesday afternoon. This was so much fun! A panel of three “seasoned” archivists were able to conduct mock interviews with four of the Mosaic Leadership Forum participants (which included the Mosaic Scholars as well as some of the SAA Awards winners). These students and new graduates were so very impressive and receptive to feedback. Honestly, if you’re in a position to do so, hire them all. 🙂
  • Attended the Archives Leadership Institute dinner on Wednesday night and went to dinner on Thursday night with a group of academic archivists who are either tenured or tenured track (thanks to Eira Tansey for setting up that group!).

But then there are the Council activities as well! As mentioned previously, we newly-elected folks (Courtney Chartier, Bert Lyons, and me) attended the August 1st Council meeting to observe but not vote. This meeting ran from 9am until about 3:30pm or so. Thankfully it look about two hours less than had been allotted – always a good thing!

While we didn’t officially assume our positions on Council until the end of the annual meeting, Courtney, Bert, and I all attended the meetings of most – if not all – of our new liaison groups (for more, including my liaison assignments, see here). This allowed the outgoing Council members (who worked with these groups for the last three years) to introduce us to the current and incoming leadership of these groups we will be working with over the next three years. Because some of my new liaison groups met at the same time (or at the same time as some of my pre-Council election groups), I was only able to pop in for 10-20 minutes or so of each group’s meeting. But I was able to at least say hello to folks in:

  • Cultural Heritage Working Group (Wednesday morning)
  • American Archivist Editorial Board (Wednesday afternoon)
  • Archival History Roundtable (Wednesday night)
  • Students and New Archives Professionals Roundtable (Wednesday night)
  • Electronic Records Section (Thursday afternoon)
  • Records Management Roundtable (Friday morning)

The one group that I didn’t get to meet with was the Women’s Collections Roundtable, but I’m very much looking forward to working with them.

One other fun event was on Tuesday evening when we had a short and informal social so that new Council members could meet with leadership in the Council of State Archivists (CoSA).

And then there are the “normal” annual meeting activities that I always try to attend — the plenaries (one on Thursday morning and one on Friday afternoon), the awards ceremony (Friday afternoon right after the second plenary), the all-attendee reception (Friday night), the new member coffee (Thursday morning), and the business/membership meeting (mid-day Saturday). And, of course, the SAA annual meeting just wouldn’t be the same without stopping by the Texas Roundup (this year, on Thursday night) to see Dr. Gracy!!

In spite of all of this, I even managed to make it to a couple of sessions and a brown bag discussion! I really learned a lot about exhibit design and web/document accessibility needs in Session 208: Accessible Archives and Special Collections on Thursday afternoon. The brown bag discussion on the work of the Joint Task Force on Primary Source Literacy on Thursday was really interesting, particularly as I’m thinking about student learning outcomes and assessment for my instruction work (most of which isn’t with history students). I loved Session 403: Before and After: Appraisal and Access in African American Communities as well as Session 704: Assessing Archives: Case Studies in Using Data as an Advocacy Tool. There were at least a dozen other sessions I wanted to attend but couldn’t, so I’m very grateful for Twitter folks for helping me see some session highlights and for the recordings that will be made available to attendees soon.

And, of course, I got to meet lots of great new people and see so many folks I love who I see only once a year. That’s always the best part about the annual meeting. I also had three free hours on Tuesday morning, and made the very smart decision to go visit the Center for Puppetry Arts and especially their Jim Henson exhibit (in which, at one point, I turned a corner, gasped, and said aloud “Big Bird!”). And special thanks to Rachel, Christie, and others who set some lures and helped me expand my Pokedex throughout the week. 🙂

The whole crazy week wrapped for me with the August 6th Council meeting, which took place right after the business meeting on Saturday afternoon. This was the first meeting in which Courtney, Bert, and I were “official” — seated members of Council with voting ability. This post is already way too long and I’ve got a couple of corgis who need a walk, so I’ll post an update on the events of that meeting in a couple of days! As always, if you have any questions, just let me know!!

Notes from August 1st Council meeting

Every year at the start of the SAA annual meeting, Council holds a day-long meeting at the conference hotel. This year, that meeting was on Monday, August 1st. As with the Council meeting in Chicago in May, we newly-elected folks were invited to attend this meeting — the last before we’re officially seated at the Council meeting on August 6th after the SAA business meeting.

The meeting minutes will be online soon, and I’ll let you know when those are posted. But, for now, here are some key things that came out of the meeting:

  • Council approved the recommendations of the Council Working Group on Member Affinity Groups (see those recommendations here). This essentially means that:
    • SAA is eliminating the distinctions between sections and roundtables
    • There is no cap on the number of groups an SAA member can join
    • Non-members may join up to three email discussion groups
    • All groups will be required to (1) Have standardized bylaws;  (2) Submit information about the group’s annual meeting by March 1; (3) Conduct an online election annually, with submission of a slate by June 1; (4) Submit an annual report and complete leader roster by September 1; (5) Respond to Council requests for research, advice, and expert comments. Groups may be discontinued if they don’t meet one or more of the requirements. This will happen only following significant discussion with the groups’ leaders.
    • New groups may be formed with submission of a petition signed by 100 SAA members.
    • SAA staff will continue to investigate software options to support more robust online communities.
  • Approved an Information Brief on Archives and the Environment (see here). This brief from the Committee on Public Policy was drafted in conversation with Project ARCC (Archivists Responding to Climate Change). We were lucky that Eira Tansey, who wrote one of the articles cited in the Brief and who is a leader in Project ARCC, was on hand to provide us with additional information.
  • Heard an update on the work of the Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion (see hereand approved a revision of the SAA Statement on Diversity and Inclusion (see here).

If you’re in Atlanta for the annual meeting, please note that there will be Council Office Hours on Thursday from 5pm to 6pm in the Exhibit Hall. Stop by with any questions you may have!

Also, even though I’m not formally a Council member yet, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have! I’ll be at least stopping by – if not staying around for – the meetings of almost all of the groups I will be the new liaison for (see here). If I can’t answer your question, I can certainly work on connecting you with someone who can.

August 1st Council Meeting

SAA Council will have an all-day meeting on Monday, August 1st at the start of the annual meeting. The first posting of the Council agenda is up now. You’ll see attachments, including reports from many groups and committees. But this is just the first posting. More materials will be added (there are at least nine more documents still to come!), and the second (final) posting will take place on Wednesday, July 27th. Then, we’ll also have a zip file to more readily download the documents we’ll be discussing in Atlanta.

A few highlights on the agenda (some with accompanying documentation available now; some still to come):

I’ll also point out that there’s time on agenda for feedback from the membership (that’s always on the agenda!). I’m not officially seated on Council until the Council meeting held at the end of the annual meeting. So I’ll be attending this August 1st meeting as a non-voting observer. But I’m happy to pass along feedback.

Also, remember that, as a member, you’re welcome to attend the Council meeting too! If an Executive Session is called, all non-voting members will need to leave (including me and the other newly-elected-but-not-yet-seated folks). But for the overwhelming bulk of the meeting time, you’re more than welcome to be there! The meeting on Monday, August 1st will run from 8am to 5pm. It will be in Room 203 (note: you may want to give someone a heads up if you’re planning to attend, just to make sure there are enough chairs in the room).

Council liaison assignments

Back in May at the new Council member orientation prior to the actual Council meeting, one of the key things that we learned about was our role in being a liaison between Council and various component groups (sections, roundtables, committees, working groups, etc.). Our role as Council liaison to a group is two-fold: take information from the group leadership to Council and take information from Council to group leadership. The amount of work that this requires varies based on the group. Some groups are more active than others. Some groups have more questions than others. Some groups are more product-based than others. Etc. Etc. Lots of factors can impact how your role as Council liaison plays out.

We new Council members (me, Courtney Chartier, and Bert Lyons) will begin our roles as Council liaisons along with becoming official Council members at the end of the annual meeting in August. But I’m hoping to at least pop in and say “hi” at the meetings for each of the groups I’ve been assigned.

Of course, in looking at the scheduling, it looks like I’ll need Hermione’s time turner to help me out with this. Many of my groups meet at the same time — and of course they meet at the same time as other groups I’m currently a member of and, in a couple of cases, I’ve already committed to attending/speaking at their meeting before the liaison assignments were made. So, if you’re a leader of one of my liaison groups, please don’t be offended if I literally just pop into the room at some point to say “hi” and quickly have to run off elsewhere.

The liaison assignments were based on a few factors. First, to help maintain continuity, the assignments are made on a three-year basis. That means that these are the groups I’ll be working with during my whole Council tenure. So, between the three of us new folks, we’re “inheriting” the liaison assignments of those who are rotating off of Council (Tim Pyatt, Helen Wong Smith, and Lisa Mangiafico). It also means that many of the groups I’ve been a member of (like COPA or RAO) had assigned liaisons already. But it’s exciting to get to meet new folks and engage with new groups!

The three of us were given a list of the available Council liaison positions along with brief descriptions of the groups and the groups’ liaison needs from the outgoing Council members. And then we were asked to rank the groups in order of preference/interest. Finally Rachel Vagts, as the newly-elected Council representative to the Executive Committee, officially made the appointments.

Anyways, if you’re a leader in one of these groups, expect to hear from me soon!

  • Cultural Heritage Working Group
  • American Archivist Editorial Board
  • Women’s Collections Roundtable
  • Students and New Archives Professionals Roundtable
  • Records Management Roundtable
  • Archival History Roundtable
  • Electronic Records Section

May Meeting Minutes Are Up!

Just an FYI …. the officially approved minutes from the May Council meeting that I attended are now up on the SAA website. You’ll actually find two documents there – the minutes and the approved FY17 budget for SAA.

One bit in particular to look at is the section on page 6 about proposed amendments to the SAA Constitution and Bylaws regarding procedures for filling Council seats that are vacated before the end of the three-year term.

Also, in Atlanta, I’ll be attending both the all-day Council meeting on Monday, August 1st (attending as a non-voting member) and the Council meeting on Saturday, August 6th after the Membership meeting. At that meeting on August 6th, we three newly-elected Council members (Courtney Chartier, Bert Lyons, and me) will officially begin our three-year terms.