“Who’s Missing From This Table?” NEA Reflections on the Process of Inclusion

Here is a great example of the important undertakings by regional organizations, and I hope will encourage others to also share significant initiatives in their regions through this blog.

The following post is from Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator (2015-2017) New England Archivists


As New England Archivists’ inaugural Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator, I have been asked to write a few words on how New England Archivists (NEA) reached this point in the process of becoming a fully representative and welcoming professional organization, and sketch out some big-picture ideas regarding what I hope to accomplish during my three-year term.

In the NEA’s 2010 Strategic Plan, NEA formally recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion for our viability as a professional organization seeking to represent and support all of New England’s archivists. To act upon this commitment, NEA established a two-year Diversity Task Force to examine the issue. This task force of six worked with NEA leadership between 2011-2013 to explore the history of diversity efforts within NEA, to engage in conversations around diversity with the membership, and ultimately to recommend some next steps.

In their final report to the Board in June 2013, the task force made a number of recommendations, among them to “institutionalize NEA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by creating a permanent body devoted to assessing and promoting the organization’s progress in this area.” It is this recommendation that led to the creation of the Inclusion and Diversity Coordinator position on the Board.

Continue reading

Addressing issues of concern: University of Texas Acquisition of García Márquez Archive

In December, several members requested that SAA Council consider issuing a García Márquez statement regarding the UT decision to not disclose the purchase price for the García Márquez archive.   After seeking advice from the Committee on Ethics and Professional Conduct, the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy, and pursuing a sometimes challenging discussion, Council arrived at the response posted on the SAA website today.   http://www2.archivists.org/news/2015/saa-response-to-member-request-re-university-of-texas-acquisition-of-marquez-archive

I recognize, as do my Council colleagues, that we did not reach a conclusion that would satisfy the concerns of all.  There are different and conflicting perspectives within our membership, and a range of considerations to be assessed when making a statement as a professional organization.

Varied perspectives were provided by CEPC, CAPP, the members who raised the issue, and by Council members.   I suggested to Council and the committees that we share the information they all provided in the process.  Everyone agreed, and you will find those items on the website as well.   We hope it will provide you with a sense of  the different factors and concerns in play.

This is, as CEPC characterized it, an “interim” position.  We will continue to monitor the situation, especially as the Texas Attorney General issues an opinion.  And I encourage any of you concerned to continue to follow the situation and contact me/us as further developments occur.

Perhaps the most important outcome that I hope will result from this is contained in the final “bullet point”:

• SAA encourages its members and affinity groups to consider identifying forums in which members might pursue further discussion of the complexities of, and varying positions taken on, the purchase of collections, donor requirements and restrictions, collecting parameters, and transparency regarding the collecting process. We acknowledge the existence within our membership of differing opinions and strongly encourage a focused, thoughtful, and respectful dialogue to promote both better understanding and better practice.

If you have comments or suggestions for how to do that, or other issues we need to consider as a profession, please comment here or email me at: kathleen.d.roe@gmail.com

Why I am an archivist

The fourth challenge in the “Year of Living Dangerously for Archives” brings the focus to each of you: Why are you an archivist?

In past months, the calls to action for the “Year of Living Dangerously for Archives” have focused on the value that others find in archives. Now it’s time to talk about the value WE see in what we do. Whether you came into this profession intentionally, by way of a related profession, or by some unforeseen path, there’s a reason why you’ve decided to stay or to pursue a degree. Please take a few minutes (now!) to think about why you’re an archivist–and share that with us. http://www2.archivists.org/living-dangerously/why-i-am-an-archivist

I firmly believe in not asking people to do something I would not be willing to do myself, so let me start this conversation by telling you why I am an archivist. Mine is just one perspective, one answer for one person. I look forward to hearing your stories. Continue reading

The Gift of Archives

Reflection is part of the holiday season for many. It’s a time to think about life, family, friends, community. So first, let me thank all of you for the gift of a year to spend working with you and serving our profession in ways both planned and unexpected. Thanks also for the ideas, thoughts, concerns, frustrations, plans and aspirations shared by many of you. Connecting “live” is a great gift for me—social media is great, but a real voice has timbre and tone that is hard to replace. However you have communicated, though, I appreciate the gift of your voice. I hope you will continue and others will join the conversation in the coming calendar year. Continue reading

Archives and Art: A Story from Detroit

The story of Detroit’s bankruptcy and the accompanying challenges has been in the news regularly for some time. My French-Canadian ancestors came across “détroit” (the straits) in the 1790s and generations of my family have been proud to call that city home—and when asked where I’m from, I still claim Detroit. I was fortunate to pursue my archival education at Wayne State University in the archival studies program led by Dr. Philip P. Mason. One of the great gifts for students at Wayne is the nearness of the Detroit Institute of Art, where we often would head on weekends or between classes to wander through the galleries. So I regularly read the articles about the bankruptcy, which included discussions of potentially selling off some or all of the astonishing collections of the DIA. Continue reading

A Seasonal Toast to Archives: Challenge #3

As we approach the holiday season – replete with wishes of good cheer and year-end toasts, let’s take an opportunity to share the thoughts we all encounter that remind us of the value of archives.

Why do archives matter?  This month’s challenge is simple:  Think about the “quotable” statements you’ve heard or read – perhaps in a professional presentation, an archives class or workshop, a newspaper, magazine, or journal article, a novel or play. The statement may have been made by someone with international recognition, a local “everyday” person, one of your professors, or a friend.  Whatever she or he wrote or said, it made you think, “Yes, that’s why archives are important, that’s why what I do matters….” Continue reading

Speak Up! Action alert on proposed changes to the Freedom of Information Act

An important advocacy role for all of us is to let our government know what we want from it—either personally or as members of the archival community. Here is the opportunity to do that by contacting your senators to support an issue for which SAA has a clear position as described in the Advocacy Agenda  and issue briefs developed by the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy.   Continue reading