Take Action for Archives!

For all of you who’ve made the commitment to participate in the “The Year of Living Dangerously for Archives” and for those who are still wondering just what this is all about (see the 9/3/2104 blogpost here), the first challenge opportunity is now live on the SAA website:  http://www2.archivists.org/living-dangerously/value-of-archives

You’ll find suggestions for concrete actions to take in the next days/weeks to further our efforts to raise awareness of the importance and value of archives and archivists. Check out the suggestions, put your own spin on them, try them out and then tell us the results of your efforts.

Challenges will be issued periodically in the future focusing on different issues, times, approaches, or for particular groups within SAA whether Student Chapters, Fellows, or any of our roundtables and sections. Do one, do many—every action is another step forward in raising awareness.

It is an absolute joy and privilege to be part of a profession that can change lives, alter the path of policy, affect the economy, capture the minds of students, promote insight and understanding, and provide the information infrastructure for democracy. It’s time we let others know that this is what archives and archivists do. Join us in taking action for archives!

A recent opportunity to raise awareness of archives

Earlier this week, the New York Times published an op-ed piece, “The New History Wars,” by American Historical Association Executive Director Jim Grossman. (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/02/opinion/the-new-history-wars.html?_r=0)   Because Jim’s piece teed up an opportunity to note the essential role of archival records in education, Dennis Meissner, Nancy Beaumont, and I pulled together and submitted the “letter to the editor” below.

If the world stays calm, no movie stars get married, and no natural disasters occur, there is a very modest chance this might get printed. But despite the odds, it seemed worth a try. Because I have, and will continue, to challenge our members to get involved in raising awareness of archives, it seemed appropriate to let you know that I’m trying to do the same—to find positive and productive opportunities to draw attention to the many ways in which archival records and archivists contribute to the educational, social, and political conduct of our society. I’ll continue to look for chances to raise a voice on the value and importance of archives, and hope you’ll join me in speaking up about archives whenever we can!

Here’s the letter as submitted (with painful deletions to get it down to the required 175 words): Continue reading

The Year of Living Dangerously for Archives

It’s really pretty simple. Archives change lives…sometimes in breath-taking ways, sometimes in quiet but essential ways. Nonetheless, every encounter that a user has with archives results in some increase or change in knowledge, some adjustment to a direction, some altered perspective, some affecting of the human experience. Archives have value for so many different people—our managers, our colleagues, our friends, the public, our users, potential users, and even people who may never directly use them.

I hope in the coming year we can work together to take some specific actions to raise awareness of the importance and value of archives in our lives, our organizations, our government, and our society. In my incoming presidential remarks at the recent Annual Business Meeting (http://www2.archivists.org/history/leaders/kathleen-roe/incoming-presidential-remarks-the-year-of-living-dangerously-with-archives), I issued a challenge to us as SAA members, as archivists, to spend a year “living dangerously” by taking some concerted actions to increase awareness of and advocate for archives. It’s not something that most of us have been trained to do, and it is something that for many of us is a bit beyond our comfort zone (hence the element of “danger”). Continue reading

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Getting involved with SAA

In the past few weeks, my Council and leadership colleagues and I have had a number of conversations with members about how one goes about getting involved in SAA.   We’re delighted that people care and are willing to pose that question–thanks to all of you who did, and to all of you who share that interest.   The call for appointments by Vice President Dennis Meissner will go out in October, but that’s not the only way to be professionally engaged with SAA.    Council member Tanya Zanish-Belcher, who is both welcoming and great about getting people involved, has provided some thoughts on the subject.   And if you still or in the future have questions, please follow the suggestion on the button that Terry Baxter and the Membership Committee were passing out at the recent Joint Annual Meeting:  “Ask me.” Continue reading

In the beginning….there is gratitude.

What’s the first thing I should say after assuming the presidency? I can think of no words more important or more heartfelt than “Thank you.” As my predecessor, the amazing Danna Bell said in her first blogpost, “We are SAA”. The fabric and nature of SAA is woven from strong, colorful, and unique threads that are our members, our leaders, our staff, and our supporters. Acknowledging all the ways in which people contribute to SAA could become a dissertation-sized post and even then likely only skim the surface.

It would be an interesting exercise to estimate the amount of contributed time that members give and even more so to consider the “cost-sharing” it represents. Begin with service on roundtables, sections, committees, boards, council and officers. Then add on the time and energy members give to preparing sessions for the annual meeting, writing articles for Archival Outlook or The American Archivist. Now add the mentoring, navigating, and informal advising that goes on between us at the Annual Meeting and throughout the year. Our membership is the mother lode of professional generosity.

The dedication of the SAA staff is priceless in their responsiveness to members, their skill in navigating the management of our association, and in the gift of their positive attitude toward service. The more I have been involved in leadership, the more they dazzle me with their ability to simultaneously juggle balls, dishes, axes, fruit, and the occasional flaming torch.

As the year goes forward, there will doubtless be times of challenge, accomplishment, bafflement, contention, energy, and maybe a few hearty chuckles. We will be what we make of ourselves and I am grateful for your contributions to the amazing patchwork quilt that is the Society of American Archivists.

Many, many thanks to all of you for all you do.

Kathleen

My Presidential Address

As I finish my term I wanted to let you know that you can view my presidential address here. I hope you enjoy it and perhaps get some ideas you can use now and in the future.

I have tried to do my best to support the Society, its members, leaders and staff. I hope I have done some things that will help us move forward.

Now I turn Off the Record to Kathleen Roe, who has some amazing ideas for her year of advocacy and living dangerously with archives. She will be a spectacular leader and I look forward to seeing what she does with her 525,600 minutes.

Improving SAA’s Affinity Groups: Your Chance to Contribute to the Change

This post was written by the members of the Task Force on Member Affinity Groups. I hope you will attend their forum during the conference or respond to this post in the comments.

Since last year’s SAA Annual Meeting, a task force has been working to determine how the Society’s member affinity groups (that is, its Sections and Roundtables) can better serve the membership as a whole. While nothing has been finalized, the task force has been exploring several recommendations largely based on a survey completed this spring. The task force would like to take this opportunity to share some of these findings and to ask for general feedback on preliminary recommendations. Continue reading