A day in the life …

OK, so today wasn’t exactly a routine day in my role as the current SAA President; SAA issues pretty much dominated it, which isn’t always the case. (And, sad to say, on a day when my day job was crying out for attention even more than usual! My spectacular/generous/supportive boss is no doubt ruing the day that he enthusiastically encouraged me to run for this office.) Given that we on the SAA Council often hear that what we do is totally mysterious [insert spooky soundtrack here], I thought some of you might find a rundown of the stuff that went down sort of interesting. At the very least, it’ll tell me where my day went.

8:15 Meeting (aka phone call) with two fellow Council members to discuss how to make the Nominating Committee process more transparent, especially to potential candidates.

9:55 Sent message to 2013 Program Committee co-chairs Robin Chandler and Nancy Lenoil expressing my hope for a productive three-day meeting, which began this evening. The committee will be selecting proposals for the conference in New Orleans. Lots of tough decisions ahead of them. Cross your fingers that yours makes the cut.

10:00 Meeting to plan strategy for inviting SAA members to donate to the SAA Foundation in support of the Society’s goal of building our capacity to fund scholarships, education, technology, disaster relief, and many other areas that matter to our members. (Watch your mailboxes, and please prepare to be as generous as you can, even if it’s only $5.00.)

11:00 Reviewed letter drafted by MARAC President Ed Galloway that will go out to all regional archival organizations, signed by the two of us,  requesting donations to the MARAC and SAA disaster recovery funds in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

11:45 Received the unwelcome news that one of our representatives to an external organization must resign due to illness. Another appointment for Vice President Danna Bell-Russel to make.

12:00 Tuned in to Twitter stream that started up yesterday about whether the new joint NARA/SAA publication Resources for Volunteer Programs in Archives is an indicator that SAA is not supportive of unemployed professional archivists because it discusses the use of unpaid volunteers and interns. Returned to this repeatedly throughout the day to follow the thread as it unfolded. Tried to paint the issues as having lots of grey area rather than being black and white. Probably failed completely. Got a tad emotional. May have said a couple things that I’ll regret. :) This figurehead thing can be a little bit trying.

12:45 Posted a message to the Council listserv proposing an approach to discussing the six reports prepared by Council members analyzing the data from the 2012 member survey (on broad issues such as education, membership, publications, etc.). I suggested six Google Hangouts between now and mid-January, with lots of homework assignments in between.

1:00 Attended meeting of about 30 leaders of archival institutions and organizations called by the Heritage Preservation Network. Purpose was to exchange information about work being done to identify and assist archives damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Really incredible and inspiring to hear about the work of the New York and New Jersey state archives and many other dedicated colleagues. FEMA, IMLS, NYC Metro, and many others are working their b*tts off to help those in distress. Learned that there are many, many tragic cases of loss of archival collections (as well as serious damage to buildings) in the two states. Mentioned the SAA/MARAC effort to garner donations so we can be generous in awarding grants. This felt meager relative to the incredible efforts being made by our colleagues in state governments. It’s what SAA has the capacity to do.

1:45 While multitasking during the meeting, read the good news from Executive Director Nancy Beaumont that SAA membership is at an all-time high: 6095 archivists!

2:00 Participated in online discussion among SAA Council members about the aforementioned analysis of the 2012 member survey. Enthusiastic discussion. Willingness to work. Great ideas.

2:30 Finally wrote my [overdue] president’s column for the Nov/Dec issue of Archival Outlook. (And now you have to wait a month to find out what it’s about.)

3:00 Another concurrent Council discussion: does this blog need a more active stream of posts? Fingered four people who had previously volunteered to write up particular topics. Inflicted guilt on everybody else.

4:00 Realized that I was wearing out. Scritched my kitties and had a glass of my current favorite whisky. (That’s how they spell it in Scotland. My brand is Oban, from the town of the same name, where a friend grew up.)

4:30 Fretted about all the other work I didn’t get done today. Oh well, there’s always Saturday!

5:30 Started this post.

Whether or not I’ve made it sound that way, I’m having a great time being your President. My colleagues on Council inspire me daily; they bring widely disparate views to the table and represent your expressed needs with passion. The SAA staff is beyond amazing; words can’t express how impressed I am with their thoroughly professional support for our work and their deep interest in your welfare. And last, but far from least, by taking to heart my responsibility to pay careful attention to the needs of members, I’m learning a lot about you, my SAA colleagues. It’s not always easy, but it’s important.

Now: your turn. Send your thoughts in response. Take me to task. Tell me I’m full of it and that I shouldn’t whine any more. Tell me what you care about. Drink your beverage of choice and celebrate the long weekend! (Even if you’re not reading this until Monday.) Be proud that you’re an archivist.

11 responses to “A day in the life …

  1. Wow! At my part time/temporary job I didn’t receive a single email (there’s something wrong with my account that I hesitate to have fixed) and didn’t attend a single meeting. I am wiped out just reading what you did yesterday! I love that you are on Twitter and engage in the somewhat fractious debates over there. Twitter is where I have “met” and engaged with the most archivists since leaving grad school, so it is great having the SAA President as part of the club (to anyone reading this, upset they are not a member, it’s not an actual club – please join in). And for what it’s worth, I didn’t have any objections to the Resources publication.

  2. Hi Jackie! Thanks for this post and this blog generally. As a relative newcomer to SAA, I’m only now beginning to appreciate all the activities it’s involved in. I am glad to have have this insight into SAA operations, which have previously been a largely opaque process.
    I have to admit I smiled at the 4pm scotch, but after that day I can hardly blame you.
    As for taking you to task, I would really appreciate a fuller response to the various reactions to ‘Resources for Volunteer Programs in Archives’, particularly Rebecca Goldman’s well reasoned post http://eatingouryoung.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/advocating-for-archives-without-advocating-for-archivists/
    I think this discussion is meaningful, but only so long as it reaches widely across the profession and doesn’t stay within a twitter echo chamber.
    Again thank you for all you do, which is clearly a lot!

  3. Thanks, Jeremy! I’m going to remember your “echo chamber” analogy for Twitter. :) The whole point of the blog is to let SAA members know what’s going on, so I really appreciate your comments. As for a response to the tweetfest related to the Volunteers publication and Rebecca’s blog post, watch this space …

  4. Good post, Jackie. Addressed what I look for in archival blogging at the start of the Obama administration when I still posted regularly on the Archives & Archivists Listserv. Just posted it at my own blog, my TL: DR style always was suited better to blogging than to the Listserv. More anon. Maybe! Appreciate your good work and your vibe. http://nixonara.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/obama-redux-comfort-and-ease-of-presentation/

  5. “Tuned in to Twitter stream” would love to know why SAA doesn’t take advantage of the A&A listserv for discussions such as the one on the joint SAA/NARA publication. not everyone is able to communicate intelligently in 140 characters or less.
    “The whole point of the blog is to let SAA members know what’s going on, ” then consider posting a link to it on A&A

    • Great idea–I’ll start mentioning each OTR post on the A&A list. Inevitably, though, pieces of each conversation are going to happen on multiple media. May I in turn encourage you to move any such twitter chat to the A&A list when you would like to see a topic more broadly and fully aired? Archivists start discussions there; SAA’s role is to host the list.

  6. Jackie I would (move twitter chats to A&A) but I don’t follow twitter that much. I recognize that discussions will take place on a variety of platforms. I just feel that SAA has ignored the A&A list as means of communicating information. some tweet, some blog, some email. all are valid forms of communication.

  7. Pingback: It’s easy to be comfortable | NixoNARA

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