Category Archives: Annual Meeting

What We’re Looking For: Taking Your Session Proposal from Good to Excellent

A Guest Post from by the ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2018 Program Committee:

The theme for the 2018 Joint Annual Meeting of CoSA, NAGARA, and SAA is Promoting Transparency. This theme acknowledges that archivists and records administrators embrace principles that foster the transparency of our actions and inspire confidence in both the record and our professions. We value transparency in the record and records processes, the responsibility it gives to our work and actions, and how it allows us to be held accountable by our constituencies. The programming offered at ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2018 will use that recognition to clearly and openly address why and how we do our work.

In keeping with this theme, the Program Committee for ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2018 would like to share more on our process with the SAA membership. Over the course of the year we’ll be contributing to Off the Record to share more on different parts of our work. In this first post, we’ll share our thoughts on what we’re looking for in a proposal, posing the question: What takes a session proposal from good to excellent?

Program Committee members’ thoughts on what they’ll be looking for during proposal evaluation follow. We hope that proposers will use this to craft excellent proposals as the deadline for submission—Wednesday, November 15—approaches!

  • For me, a good proposal is free from ambiguities. Ideally, after reading the proposal I will have clearly understood the submitter’s target audience(s), topic and contents, presentation methodology, and intended take-away(s) for the audience. (Debbie Bahn, Washington State Archives)
  • An excellent proposal provides a hook that will grab your audience. Also remember a catchy title should show how your topic is relevant and useful, and deliver truth in advertising. (Dorothy Davis, Alabama Department of Archives and History)
  • To me, the best proposals have a clear focus and set of outcomes, regardless of topic. In other words, the submission addresses directly what information or experience they’re trying to convey and what they expect attendees to take away from the session. I’m more likely to approve a proposal with clear goals that doesn’t interest me than one in my area of focus that sort of meanders. (Brad Houston, City of Milwaukee)
  • A good proposal should have a direct and clear connection to the theme, not muddled or overly wordy. An excellent proposal would be direct but also communicate the enthusiasm the writer(s) have for the theme of the conference. Enthusiasm that would hopefully engage attendees if the proposal is chosen. (Christina Orozco)
  • Aside from being clear with why the proposal is important or has value to the profession, the types of sessions I find most rewarding are those that are framed to stimulate discussion and are less focused on simply recounting a case study. Proposals that demonstrate they are as much (if not more) for the audience to engage with or stimulate some new perspective, concept, or practice, and less for the panelists to hold forth on their niche project, would typically catch my eye for selection. (Dennis Riley, New York State Archives)
  • I like when archivists share “what really happened” with their work, both the successes and the failures. Presenting archival practice in all its complexity allows attendees to learn from speakers’ breadth of experience rather than sit back and wish their institution was equipped with the same resources and opportunities. (Sara Seltzer, J. Paul Getty Trust)
  • I place a high value on sessions that discuss real-world issues that archives and records management professionals face every day, and focus on practical ways in which we can overcome these challenges. Does the session invite discussion of solutions, or does it simply highlight problems? The former brings greater value to the participants and attendees alike, and will be given more weight in my mind. (Kris Stenson, Oregon State Archives)
  • Proposals that show creativity in thought and processes, but that are grounded in the practicalities of daily archival work, will be what I will be looking for in proposals. Submissions that demonstrate more than an idea of how things could/should work, but rather illustrate the actual archival work (successfully or unsuccessfully) will be given my top priority. Also anything that includes user studies/surveys would be a plus. (Mitch Toda, Smithsonian Institution Archives)
  • This year I’m looking for proposals that will bring something fresh and new to the program. Some examples include inclusion of panelists or commentators that aren’t in a traditional archivist or records manager role; alternative and interactive formats—such as performances, role-plays, or games; or sessions on emerging and radical topics that the profession is just starting to talk about. I want to see proposers challenge our assumptions on what a session at the Joint Annual Meeting can be! (Meg Tuomala, Gates Archive)

 

 

 

 

 

Statement from SAA Council

A recent post on the Campus Reform website has raised significant concerns among our members, our conference and discussion list participants, and the SAA Council. The piece references two presentations given at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Portland. Notwithstanding the author’s claim that she had “reached out to SAA, as well as the professors involved in the panels,” no member of the SAA Council or staff was contacted for comment.

SAA does not condone any acts of suppression, intimidation, or violence against its members and participants and stands with those who speak up about and work on inclusivity and diversity in archives, a core value that is valid and relevant to the archives profession. The SAA Council denounces those who have made or would make threats against our conference participants. SAA’s 2017 Annual Meeting program was created, developed, and presented by SAA members and local community leaders, and it is a program of which we are very proud.

The SAA Council also is concerned about a recent discussion on the Archives & Archivists Listserv in reaction to the Campus Reform post. SAA Executive Director Nancy Beaumont shut down the discussion thread on August 9 because several of the posters used unprofessional or intimidating language and the discussion was becoming redundant and circular. The purpose of the list is to foster discussion of archives and archives issues, including all aspects of the theory and practice of the archives profession. The Terms of Participation clearly prohibit personal attacks and inflammatory remarks of a personal nature. The SAA Council will be reviewing the role and future of the A&A List at its November 2017 meeting. In the meantime, posts will be moderated actively. If you have ideas about 1) how the List might be improved or 2) any new communication tools that we might consider as an enhancement to or substitute for the A&A List, please send your ideas to president@archivists.org.

We are seeking productive ways to continue the learning and important conversations that took place in Portland, and we welcome your ideas about how to do that.

Tanya

Portland in 2017: Confronting “The Whitest City in America”

Contributed by Maija Anderson, Host Committee Chair.

Just a few days after I finished writing a cheerful Host Committee greeting for SAA’s on-site conference program, I heard the devastating news that three men had been stabbed – two of them fatally – by a white supremacist who was hurling racist invective at two young women of color. It all took place on a MAX light rail train near a busy transit center in Portland. My initial reaction was both shock and a familiar sorrow. Portland has a reputation as a progressive, prosperous city with a low violent crime rate. However, like anyone with even a passing knowledge of local history, I also registered the event as a frightening recurrence of racist violence, which is as much a part of Portland’s legacy as its rose gardens, bridges, and breweries.

The following week, the Host Committee recognized that some archivists were questioning whether Portland was a safe place to visit for the Annual Meeting. We saw calls for archivists to protect each other, and for SAA to issue an official statement, which was forthcoming. Initially, I felt defensive. Portland isn’t perfect – for example, I anticipated that colleagues who expected an urban utopia would be shocked by our highly visible houseless population – but I still thought of Portland as a safe city. At the same time, I felt the Host Committee should respond. All of us on the committee were well aware of Oregon’s history of white supremacy, and Portland’s status as “the whitest city in America.” Most of us on the committee are white women, and are aware that we have the privilege of feeling safe, and experiencing racially charged violence as a freak occurrence. We recognize the reality that women of color encounter disproportionately high rates of violence. We wanted to provide a safe and welcoming environment, and we were not in a position to tell our colleagues, especially our colleagues of color, that they have nothing to worry about.

Taking into account the reactions from our peers on social media, email lists, and via personal contact, we explored opportunities to respond. For a variety of reasons, we chose not to issue our own “official” statement in response to SAA’s. We agreed it would be more effective to focus on peer-to-peer communication and support.

Several of us independently came up with the idea of promoting Portland’s many cultural resources led by historically marginalized communities. We felt that national news coverage had inadequately represented communities who have demonstrated resistance and resilience in the face of white supremacy. Follow #saa17 on Twitter to learn about community-based cultural projects, institutions, and businesses in Portland. Consider coming to open houses at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center and the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, where staff are generously opening their doors to attendees.

You can also expect the Host Committee to fully support SAA’s efforts, which will include “I’ll Walk With You” ribbons, active bystander resources, and more. Looking forward to the meeting, we welcome more feedback on how we, as your colleagues in Portland, can support you.

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

 

2015 SAA Service Project: Shoes and Clothes for Kids

SAA kids schoolContributed by Nicole LaFlamme, Cleveland 2015 Annual Meeting Host Committee,  J.M. Smucker Corporate Archives

As we gear up for our annual conference, local Cleveland students will be gearing up with backpacks, sneakers, and clothes for their first day of school, August 17th. Many of us will be driving or flying into Cleveland at the same time kids are heading off to school, making for a hectic morning commute. Archivists will anticipate luggage arrival and remember all travel essentials. We’ll sort out travel-rumpled clothes while hoping conference rooms aren’t over-air-conditioned or that the Miami heat hasn’t followed LeBron to Cleveland. We’ll be finding our way around, reuniting with friends we’ve missed over the months, and figuring out our schedules.

It’ll be a similar situation for Cleveland-area kids. Back-to-school also means new schedules, finding friends, and pressures to appear presentable amongst peers. Many students can’t afford the items necessary to begin the school year, while others are unable to attend school at all due to financial restrictions. Poverty is an especially big deal for children in Cleveland, where 54.4 percent live in poverty – defined for a family of three as below $18,769 a year (Census Bureau, Sept, 2014). The cost for equipping a grade-schooler jumped 20 percent between 2013 and 2014. In 2014, parents estimated paying $642 per child for school supplies (Huntington Backpack Index, 2014). This does not include the price of clothing. Studies have shown that the inability to buy clothing can affect self-esteem and significantly affect social participation.

Luckily, there is an opportunity for us to help local kids while engaging in some social participation of our own. A group of volunteers is needed at the Shoes and Clothes for Kids (SC4K) warehouse in Cleveland to help count, sort, and pack items into boxes for distribution to area children. This Packing Day is a fun opportunity that involves some physical labor (making boxes, opening boxes, moving boxes). SC4K positively impacts the lives of over 25,000 children each year by giving them the self-esteem and confidence that comes from having brand new shoes and clothes.

A second chance to participate will be available during the conference. SC4K donation boxes will be set up within the Cleveland Convention Center for you to drop off new articles of clothing (in original packaging or with tags attached) and school supplies. Keep in mind the first things a child puts on in the morning are socks and underwear – essentials no one wants to be without.

If you are interested in giving back to the host-city, helping kids, doing some pro-bono organizational work, and meeting up and having lunch with peers, please contact me. To register for the Packing Day, please e-mail: Nicole.Laflamme@jmsmucker.com or call 330-684-7629. While at the conference, keep an eye out for the SC4K donation boxes.

SCK image

To help out kids of the four-legged variety, SAA will be collecting wish list items for the Cleveland Animal Protective League (https://clevelandapl.org/). The shelter’s needs range from items for the animals to office supplies…and many are “suitcase friendly.” For SAA’s novice and champion knitters, cat and dog blankets would be welcome as well! We’ll be sharing more about ways to help Cleveland’s pets-in-waiting as the meeting gets closer. To see the Cleveland APL’s wish list, visit https://clevelandapl.org/donate/our-wish-list/

Animal protective league

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.