2017 SAA Annual Meeting Program

I’m pleased to share this guest blog post from Terry Baxter, Program Committee chair for the 2017 Annual Meeting. I’ve mentioned in previous updates how  exciting  the 2017 program theme is: Alike and Different and how important the Saturday event is -The Liberated Archive: A Forum for Envisioning and Implementing a Community-Based Approach to Archives. The 2017 program embraces SAA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The SAA Council Working Group on  Diversity and Inclusion will be organizing discussion sessions and providing additional resources to encourage the broadest and most active participation  in discussions during the forum and throughout the Annual Meeting. Looking  forward to seeing you in Portland OR this year and please be sure to include Saturday in your plans! Thanks for your update, Terry:


It’s hard to think about summer, and the upcoming Society of American Archivists annual meeting in Portland, Oregon, during such dreary early-winter days. But the Program Committee has been hard at work to ensure that the education programming offered in July will be informative, stimulating, and useful.

The committee has already begun evaluating proposals. We received 196 proposal submissions (160 education sessions and 36 poster presentations) and will be working to evaluate and rank them prior to our in-person meeting in Chicago, January 9-11. At that time, the committee will select education sessions and poster presentations to reinforce the conference theme of alike/different, which acknowledges that we archivists sit under a very large tent and, although we have many similarities, there are ways in which we differ—sometimes fundamentally.

Work also continues on The Liberated Archive: A Forum for Envisioning and Implementing a Community-Based Approach to Archives, which will take place on Saturday, July 29, as part of the conference. A subcommittee consisting of Natalie Baur, Jarrett Drake, and Jennifer O’Neal has been working to develop both structure and content for the forum. (A full report of their activities to date was presented to the SAA Council at its November 14-16 meeting.) Both the subcommittee and the full Program Committee will continue to build on this work. As noted in the original conference call for proposals, a call for Forum content will be issued in January 2017.

The Liberated Archive asks: “If the archive is a site of social control, how might archivists partner with the public – especially at this critical junction for the profession – to repurpose the archive as a site of social transformation and radical inclusion?” At its core, the Forum is intended to bring together archivists and members of various Portland communities to identify ways in which archivists can support these communities in their pursuit of justice, self-awareness, and freedom. If we believe that archives have power—and more precisely the power to effect positive change—then it is our responsibility as archivists to assist others in using them as widely as possible.

How will archivists benefit from this exchange? The future of diversity and inclusion in archives is not an exercise in collection, description, and access. It is rooted in communities that want to hold power accountable, connect their members with each other, perpetuate language and religion, preserve locations and bioresources, and tell their stories through time. Archivists can participate in this future or they can sit on the sideline and watch their relevance diminish. The Liberated Archive will expose archivists not only to the mechanics of working with communities, but also the sense of commitment and joy that comes with deeply connected work.

The Program Committee welcomes your thoughts and ideas about the 2017 program and the Liberated Archive Forum. Feel free to contact Program Committee Chair Terry Baxter at terry.d.baxter@multco.us or conference@archivists.org.

“All Archivists Stick Together”

I had intended to post sooner this week – it won’t surprise you that I struggled to find words to share. As I pondered, I read through the stream of messages on various SAA listservs and on social media. It’s reassuring to be reminded that archivists are so many things and we accomplish a lot together – we document, inform, assist, encourage in a variety of ways. Just one example, messages about capturing post-election twitter are being shared from the Women Archivists Roundtable (WAR) to other lists – that’s great.

There are also expressions of concern an uncertain time. SAA has a strong, demonstrated, and increasing commitment to diversity and inclusion. We have accumulated resources and groups we can build upon. I revisited the suggestions about things we can do in the Message from Council and I hope it’s okay and helpful to re-post them with modest adjustments.

Individuals:

  • We can each continue to work at being a diverse and inclusive community, even when we experience fear and even when it’s difficult.
  • We can be active bystanders.
  • If you see something, say something. Let someone know.
  • Reach out to people who may feel threatened, who may need encouragement, or who may just want to talk, share, and understand.

Groups:

Association:

Community:

  • We can share what we’re doing on diversity and inclusion, including lessons learned.
  • Engage other communities, learn from what they are doing, and share what we learn.

And we can do more. The SAA Council will open with a diversity and inclusion session with DeEtta Jones to identify opportunities and strategies for challenges that will lead into a review of our strategic plan that will result in a revised action plan. Updates will be forthcoming and your ideas, suggestions, and other feedback are always welcome.

I had the great pleasure on Wednesday to visit the SAA Archives at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee – you may have seen a brief note from about my visit on Twitter or Facebook. Abigail Nye, SAA’s Archivist, talked  about what the SAA Archives team is working on (impressive!) and gave me tour – there will be more updates about the SAA Archives watch this space… Like every archives, ours is full of treasures to be re-remembered. After my visit, Abbi sent me a link to a wonderful reminder of one other thing we do – “All Archivists Stick Together”  – it’s awesome, and possibly time for an update?

Please know that you can always reach the current SAA President at: president@archivists.org – look forward to hearing from you.

Try5 – guest blogger: Bertram Lyons

I’m really pleased to welcome Bertram Lyons as the first of what I hope will be a sequence of guest bloggers on SAA’s Try5 initiative.  Bert is sharing some ideas for you in completing your Try5 as well as his own Try5 ideas – we can all try out new technical things and share our experiences together. Thanks Bert!

———-

In August, I had the honor of joining SAA Council and beginning a three-year term serving the SAA membership. At our first meeting, I was excited to hear about Nance McGovern’s plans for the Try5 SAA initiative over the course of this year. I volunteered immediately to participate any way I could to share skills with SAA colleagues and to spread the word about the initiative.

As a consultant at AVPreserve, I work as a partner with archives, libraries, museums, and other organizations who place value in the efficient management of collected information, whether the information is analog, digital, 2-D, 3-D, for forever or for now. For more than 15 years, I have been working with information technologies, analog and digital, as a core component of my day-to-day professional responsibilities. Yet, learning new skills is an indispensable necessity. In these days of insatiable technological change, each new project brings a slate of new challenges and, often, some concepts with which I am unfamiliar.

As a way to grow in knowledge, confidence, and abilities, I find the ethos of “try five” to be a guiding principle that I cannot do without.

At AVP, capacity development and technological independence are central goals that are at the heart of every project we take on with our partners. Just as we are always learning and growing, our mission is to ensure that our partners grow in capacity and confidence, especially when it comes to digital preservation and data management. It is an ethic of promoting independence for our partners, rather than one of dependence. This is why we share all of our tools freely, and provide access to all of our training materials and white papers publicly on our website (https://www.avpreserve.com) and with other portals, such as the Sustainable Heritage Network (http://www.sustainableheritagenetwork.org/community/avpreserve). And, this is why AVP staff members are active as trainers and workshop leaders at conferences and gatherings around the world. Because, as a community of information and material stewards, we can do more for our researchers and designated communities when we all have increased familiarity and confidence with technology.

To partake in the Try5 SAA initiative, AVP wants to share some resources that might help you as you look for new technologies to try. If we can be of any help or assistance as you try new skills, send an email to us (info@avpreserve.com) or tweet at us (@AVPreserve) and use the hashtag #try5saa.

Here are resources for 5 new technologies (or skills) that you could try out:

1) Command Line Interface: If you want to become more comfortable with the command line interface (CLI) of your computer, but need a kickstart (or, if you just could use a refresher), take a look at AVP’s CLI introductions for Windows and Mac OS (https://www.avpreserve.com/papers-and-presentations/an-introduction-to-using-the-command-line-interface-to-work-with-files-and-directories/). These documents provide an explanation of basic elements of the CLI, along with proposed activities to give you just enough experience to get started on your own. If you want more guidance, take a look at these other tutorials on CLI: CodeAcademy (https://codecademy.com/learn/learn-the-command-line), Princeton Computer Science for Windows, (http://www.cs.princeton.edu/courses/archive/spr05/cos126/cmd-prompt.html), and Lifehacker for Mac OS (http://lifehacker.com/5633909/who-needs-a-mouse-learn-to-use-the-command-line-for-almost-anything). Of course, there are many other great tutorials out there. These ought to get you started.

2) Checksums: Have you ever created a checksum? Would that help you understand what checksums are and how they are used? If you completed the CLI (#1 above) handout, you could now use this short handout (https://docs.google.com/document/d/13qOWYhErdtUXmtRgHHKMZfixbNL8g9BmVCrAmL57s9w/edit?usp=sharing) to try your hand at creating a checksum for a file on your computer. The handout explains how to do so on Windows and Mac OS. Try it out on a text file. Then open the text file and change a letter and then save the text file again. Then create another checksum for the file and see if it matches the first checksum you created.

3) Digital File Packaging: Have you heard of BagIt and wondered what it really is? AVP’s free tool, Exactly (https://www.avpreserve.com/tools/exactly/), has a friendly user interface that can help you create and send digital files using the BagIt specification. The Exactly user guide has a quick and easy explanation of BagIt. Additionally, this BagIt activity provides an example of how to use another BagIt tool, called Bagger, and talks through the elements and purposes of using BagIt to package files for sharing between donors and archives, or within archives: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1q9IeMw4S_yr0DvfmIqmmNHjtxCJLVs2SVXZTgeO9Xr4/edit?usp=sharing.

4) Embedded Metadata: You often hear about embedded metadata in some types of digital files, especially images, audio, video, and proprietary document formats. There are many tools out there that have been developed to extract this information from within specific file formats. One example is Exiftool, which is useful for a wide variety of formats, including TIFF, JPEG, PDF, WAV, MP3, AVI, MOV, etc. This worksheet (along with this set of sample files) will give you instructions on how to install Exiftool on your computer (for use in the CLI), and how to use it.

* Mac worksheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17sjzAdLYkrDSVtI5uqjtmGDI2OgMhfZkb1NcAEd1rpU/edit?usp=sharing
* Windows worksheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Oy34fL7eao0CWEAaqTti1qwxG7-NldYnH_POXc9dyik/edit?usp=sharing
* Sample Files: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-FBppbZcJ2EYUJfb0NhVldFQWM/view?usp=sharing

There are three activities that walk you through the various capabilities of Exiftool. We also have a tutorial series on Exiftool here: https://www.avpreserve.com/papers-and-presentations/exiftool-tutorial-series/. If you like how it works, take a look at MediaInfo (https://mediaarea.net/en/MediaInfo), which provides similar functionalities as Exiftool does, but has better support for audiovisual files.

5) Digital Video: In a different realm altogether, if you would like an overview of the underlying principles behind digital video files, AVP put together an overview of digital video formats that provides a foundation for understanding the ins and outs of video in the digital world (https://www.avpreserve.com/papers-and-presentations/a-primer-on-codecs-for-moving-image-and-sound-archives/). If you want to learn more after that the following groups provide useful information:

* Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI): http://www.digitizationguidelines.gov/guidelines/video_reformatting_compare.html (see the Part 5 Narrative for an introduction to target files for video digitization)
* Witness: https://archiveguide.witness.org/
* Memoriav: http://memoriav.ch/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Empfehlungen_Digitale_-Archivierung_EN_Version1.0_Web.pdf
* International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives: Keep your eyes open for the upcoming release of IASA-TC 06 Guidelines on the Production and Preservation of Digital Video Objects, to be released in early 2017. The release will be found here: http://iasa-web.org/iasa-publications.

To participate myself, I will spend time with 5 new technologies that I intend to try over the next few months. I will tweet about my experiences with these new technologies and hopefully that will inspire you to try some of these, too, for a grand total of 10!

Over the course of the next few months, I will study the following technologies about which I hope to learn more: EBML (Extensible Binary Meta Language), nosql data warehousing, digital video codec design (e.g., h264 [lossy], ffv1 [lossless]), virtual computing, and the internet protocol suite (TCP/IP). I have interacted in some way with all of these technologies in the past, yet I continue to side step true competence in them. I will use the Try5 initiative to challenge myself to intentionally focus on these technologies. I will share my experiences via Twitter using the #try5saa hashtag. If you try any of these, or any of the five above, share your experiences with colleagues on Twitter using #try5saa. And, if you have other technologies you want to try, or want others to try, share those as well! Let’s keep the conversation going. This is no competition; there are no winners and losers. As a community we can all share and grow together!

Try5 Update

A lot has been happening since the Annual Meeting in Atlanta. From this point on, I will be sharing updates on various things now that those activities are underway or ready to start so please do watch this space …

First up, the Try5 initiative I talked about at the Membership Meeting at the Annual Meeting has launched, continued that discussion in the President’s Message in the Sept/Oct issue of Archival Outlook, and we now have a  webpage that walks through the three Try 5 steps.

For Step 1: Try 5 Technical Things (however you define technical) the webpage has some examples and you will be seeing suggestions from guest bloggers and others about what you may try. If you have already started working on your Try5 list, great and keep going! If not, there’s plenty of time to think about what you might do.

For Step 2: Share Your Experience, we now have a webpage with a list of SAA’s communication channels so you can find a good fit for you to share your experience.  Do remember to use #Try5SAA when you share your experience. For example, you might simply send an email to the Archives and Archivists listserv or write a review for the The American Archivist Reviews Portal then also tweet the link to your review – whatever works for you. I know some people are working on Step 1 – be sure to also do step 2 to enhance your own experience (it’s good practice to explain technical things so others can understand) and to encourage others to also participate.

For Step 3: Help Someone Else, pick one of your five technical things or something you already know to help someone else do something technical. You’ll feel great and someone else will feel productive and hopefully continue doing and sharing their own technical things. Think about how you can share your experience of helping someone in a way that whoever you help will be okay with and will helps others, too.

I am working on the first two technical things on my Try5 list – explore Instagram and considering Tableau as one way to visualize data I use for digital preservation management. I’ll share my updates on my Try5 list in subsequent posts.

If you have questions or suggestions, sent them along to president@archivists.org.

Look forward to hearing about your Try5 examples!

 

Message from the SAA Council

The following message was sent to SAA Members today by email.

Dear SAA Member:

The SAA Council was outraged to learn on Saturday afternoon, August 6, that someone placed an anti-transgender and gender nonconforming flyer by the #I’llGoWithYou ribbon and flyer on the ribbon table in the conference registration area at the Hilton Atlanta.[i] The language and tenor of the unapproved flyer were disrespectful and vile. This behavior is repulsive and inexcusable and will not be tolerated by the SAA leadership.

If the hate flyer was left by an SAA member, this is a violation of SAA’s Code of Conduct and a threatening act directed toward members of SAA’s community in what should be a safe space for all of our members and attendees.

The location – a public space near the conference registration desk that was not monitored in off-conference hours – and the anonymity of the culprit is important because we can never know if the hateful message came from within our community or from an ill-willed person who had access to the hotel space. Unfortunately the hotel security office did not capture the act on security camera.

Incidents like these are terrorizing – intended to intimidate and diminish. In his keynote address during Plenary 1 on August 4, Chris Taylor referred in a compelling way to the levels of understanding and response from individual to marketplace. If we frame our responses as individual (all of us), group (any SAA group), association (SAA), and the broader (archival) community, these are examples of what we can and are doing to respond:

Individuals:

  • We can each continue to work at being a diverse and inclusive community, even when we experience fear and even when it’s difficult.
  • We can be active bystanders. (This program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describes what we can do when we are not directly involved.)
  • If you see something, say something. Let someone in SAA know.
  • Reach out to members and visitors who may feel threatened, who may need encouragement, or who may just want to talk, share, and understand.

Groups:

  • Reach out to members to discuss, inform, and/or identify things your group can do. Plan sessions. Collaborate with other groups on shared priorities.
  • Refer to SAA’s Core Values and Code of Ethics and Diversity and Inclusion Statement, which reflect our expectations for how members and visitors will interact with each other, and our Code of Conduct, which guides how we respond to incidents and behaviors that break our norms.

Association:

  • The core of our mission statement clearly states: “SAA promotes the value and diversity of archives and archivists.”
  • We have revised our Diversity and Inclusion Statement.
  • We created a page for the Council Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion, and developed a resource page on recent and current SAA Diversity and Inclusion groups (e.g., the Diversity Committee, Lesbian and Gay Archives Roundtable, and others) and activities that we hope will grow as we do. These will help you identify possible groups to contribute to or join (if you haven’t already).

Community:

  • We can share what we’re doing on diversity and inclusion, including lessons learned from challenging events.
  • Engage other communities, learn from what they are doing, and share what we learn.

Throughout the Joint Annual Meeting, attendees heard that SAA is continuing to work toward its strategic priority of being more diverse and inclusive. We can’t prevent hate incidents. What we can do is call out incidents if they happen, inform members and others about ways to respond, raise awareness, and discuss issues even when that’s challenging. And we can include.

We hope you’ll join us in discussing these issues and sharing ideas about what we all can do at #SAAincludes.

If you have concerns, questions, or suggestions, share them with SAA President Nance McGovern (president@archivists.org), any member of the Council, your component group leader, or Executive Director Nancy Beaumont (nbeaumont@archivists.org). We’re working on this together and we’re going to make progress.

The SAA Council

 


[i] Responding to SAA members’ requests, the #I’llGoWithYou ribbon and flyer were provided so that allies could support and help protect transgender and non-binary attendees when using restrooms and other gendered spaces. To learn more about this national campaign, visit www.illgowithyou.org.

 

Pop-Up Sessions Year 2

In 2013, the Annual Meeting Task Force submitted its final report. Since then, Program Committees have implemented new ideas to engage SAA members and expand how the SAA Annual Meeting is put together. In Cleveland in 2015, the Program Committee instituted the first pop-up sessions. The idea was that attendees could submit proposals for topics or ideas that “popped up” since the initial proposal submission deadline. Five of the pop-up session slots were filled by Program Committee selection in advance, and the remaining five sessions were selected by the vote of attendees onsite. According to the post-conference survey, 75% of respondents rated the pop-up sessions overall as “excellent” or “very good,” but only 32% gave high marks to the submission and selection process.

Because the response to pop-up sessions overall was so positive, the 2016 Program Committee continued this great idea and made some modifications. We also chose to focus on ideas that “popped up” since the initial call for proposals – and we received 30 submissions (an increase of 9 from 2015)! We were pleased that, as requested, none of the proposals replicated submissions from the initial call. We believe that the submission process is solid and benefited from consistency over the two years.

The biggest change we made was to the selection process. We chose to engage the memberships of CoSA and SAA by setting up an online voting system and inviting all members to vote for their five favorite sessions. When the two-week voting period closed, all proposals had received some votes and 583 individuals had participated—more people than had registered for the conference at that time! Now added to the schedule, the top five pop-ups in session number order are:

  • #111: Archives and Digital Inequality (Myles Crowley and Katharina Hering)
  • #211: Deconstructing Whiteness in Archives: Opportunities for Self-Reflection (Samantha Winn)
  • #311: Archival Records in the Age of Big Data (Richard Marciano and Bill Underwood)
  • #411: Practical Options for Incoming Digital Content (Jody DeRidder and Alissa Helms)
  • #611: Improving Finding Aid Visibility: What Are Y’all Doing? (Amelia Holmes and Eileen Heeran Dewitya)

So far, we consider this response a success. The number of proposals increased and nearly 600 members voted. By looking at the votes, we can see what topics are of top interest to archivists. We’re glad you submitted, voted, and are invested in making this year’s conference a success. And we’re excited to see the results of all this in Atlanta!

Cheryl Oestreicher and Barbara Teague
2016 Program Committee Co-Chairs

 

Statement on the Orlando Shooting

Like so many people throughout America and across the world, we SAA members are shocked and saddened by the horrific violence that unfolded early Sunday morning in Orlando. Our wishes for hope and healing go out to all who have been harmed by this senseless act.

During this troubled time, I would call attention to the shared values that support us in our work. Let us redouble our efforts to ensure that our repositories become places of inclusion that celebrate the diversity of our society and the historical record. Let us strive to promote free and equitable access to the primary historical record that promotes understanding of the truth and that fights against ignorance and misrepresentation of the American experience.

We join with our colleagues in the library and museum communities in striving to create safe and welcoming places in which all might expand our understanding of and appreciation for our shared American culture.

 

Update June 17:

To my colleagues who have commented below and on social media—I thank you. Thank you for calling out what was missing in my statement. Thank you for sharing your frustration and anger about the erasure of queer voices and voices of color that happens all too frequently. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn. I hear you.

And I want to say: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I didn’t name that the violent and ugly shooting at Orlando’s Pulse Club targeted people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. You are right: Context does matter, naming does matter—and we cannot forget that it is a culture of fear and hate, of racism and homophobia, that led to the shooting. The Orlando shooting is our problem, too. I’m sorry this sentiment wasn’t present in my original statement.

I feel deeply for the victims of the shooting and their loved ones, and for the LGBTQ community and communities of color for whom the Orlando shooting has said, “You are not safe and you are not valued.” This is one reason why I believe our work as archivists is so important. When we preserve the records and share the histories of our marginalized communities, we are working toward alleviating the fear and hate that led to the Orlando shooting and to so many other violent acts that our country has witnessed. I’m proud of the many archivists who are leading the way—and holding me and our organization accountable. SAA is its members. Thank you.

 

Update June 30:

To continue this thread, I would like to call attention to a recent statement posted on the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable blog that does a fine job of suggesting how we archivists might use the tragedy of the Orlando shootings to reflect on how we go about our work:  https://issuesandadvocacy.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/leaders-of-aacr-laccha-lagar-on-orlando-archivists-role-in-creating-a-more-diverse-society/