Category Archives: Uncategorized

Disaster Resources

Earthquakes, fires, flooding, hurricanes. Fall 2017 appears to be non-stop disasters, particularly here in the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean. While families and communities may now be focused on survival and obtaining power, water, and shelter, the time will come when people are ready to turn their attention to the care of their cultural resources. What kinds of resources are available to aid in recovery? Many sources and links have been shared over the past few months, and I thought it would be helpful to combine them all into one blog post.


First, please consider giving to the SAA Foundation’s National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives, which provides grants of up to $2,000 to archives in need. The NDRFA information page and application form have just been translated to Spanish (special thanks to Ana Rodriguez and María Isabel Molestina-Kurlat, co-chairs of LACCHA) to better reach all those who have been affected by recent natural disasters. As SAA President, I am a member of the Foundation Board, and we truly wish to encourage applications for these funds.

The Fund provides grants that support the recovery of archival collections from major disasters, regardless of region or repository type. Any repository that holds archival records or special collections is eligible to apply for a grant. The repository need not be a member of SAA. Grant monies may be used for the direct recovery of damaged or at-risk archival materials; such services as freeze drying, storage, transportation of materials, and rental facilities; supplies, including acid-free boxes and folders, storage cartons, cleaning materials, plastic milk crates, and protective gear; and to defray the costs for volunteers or other laborers who assist with the recovery. Access to these disaster funds as well as direct donations for Mexican and non-US Caribbean Islands archives are on the November agendas for both the Council and the SAA Foundation.

There are additional funding opportunities from federal and foundation sources for those in need. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Chairman’s Emergency Grants can provide up to $30,000 in affected disaster areas.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the granting arm of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has funding available.

Mellon Foundation: In the Eye of the Storm: How Federal Funding Rescues Arts and Culture in Times of Disaster.

The American Library Association has disaster funds available for those affected by hurricanes in the continental U.S. and Caribbean, as well as for those in Mexico affected by the earthquake.

Northeast Document Conservation Center: After the Hurricane, Resources for Saving Collections

Finally, the Asociación civil Apoyo al Desarrollo de Archivos y Bibliotecas de México (ADABI de México, A.C.) provides support for Archives and Libraries in Mexico.

Resources for Preserving Our Cultural Heritage:

For immediate advice or assistance: See the Northeast Document Conservation Center’s Emergency Resources or contact NEDCC’s 24/7 Emergency Hotline at 855-245-8303, or Contact the National Heritage Responders at 202-661-8068.

FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution co-sponsor the Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF), a partnership of more than 50 national service organizations and federal agencies created to protect cultural heritage from the damaging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies. To reach the administrator of the HENTF team, please email

SAA provides a listing of Disaster Response and Relief Resources and also see May Day: Saving Our Archives Annotated Resources (SAA) as well as Hurricane Relief Resources (SAA).

Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, American Library Association, Disaster Preparedness Clearinghouse

American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works: Courses in Emergency Management
for Cultural Heritage Responders

International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property

Finally, it is critically important that we all plan for future disasters that are sure to come. dPlan is an Online Disaster-Planning Tool for Cultural and Civic Institutions developed by the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). The development of the template was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).  As we look to the possibility of more disasters in the future, please keep in mind SAA’s Issue Brief on Archives and the Environment.

As always, if you have questions or suggestions, or ideas about how we can improve  disaster responsiveness for archives across the country, please let me know at



Annual Meeting Remarks by Tanya Zanish-Belcher

Hello! Here is an expanded version of my remarks given at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Portland during the SAA Business Meeting, where I was given some brief time to share what I plan for us to work on together during the coming year. A year-long presidency is very short, but I believe we can achieve some tangible goals while also considering the future of the Society and of the archives profession. This post may be rather long, but I also think in the interest of transparency, it is important to share SAA’s current priorities.

It probably comes as no surprise for anyone that advocacy and outreach as well as diversity and inclusion will remain a focus for the Council and the Society in the coming year. Certainly we have already dealt with a number of diversity-related issues, including the tenor of discussion on the Archives and Archivists Listserv, the problem of white supremacy and how archivists can assist communities, and challenges associated with placement of the 2019 Annual Meeting in Austin.

Our Advocacy and Outreach efforts will include an SAA-ACRL/RBMS Joint Task Force on Access, which will review the 2009 Joint Statement with a goal of adding guidelines for born-digital materials. SAA’s Committee on Public Policy will also be reviewing and suggesting revisions to SAA’s Public Policy Agenda, which guides our decision-making in regard to making position statements and creating issue briefs. And given that we will be meeting with CoSA and NAGARA in Washington, D.C., there are already preliminary plans for lobbying training, Hill visits to implement this new training, and a possible meeting with the Congressional History Caucus. Stay tuned.

Diversity and Inclusion continues to be a high priority for SAA. This year we will implement the new Brenda S. Banks Travel Award (proposed by the Archives and Archivists of Color Section), which recognizes and acknowledges individuals of color employed in archives who manifest an interest in becoming active members of SAA. This award, which will be given to one individual per year, provides full financial support for attending the annual meeting and a 1-year membership. Thanks to the following Awards Subcommittee members for getting things started: Kathryn Neal (Chair), Gerald Chaudron, Shanee Murrain, and Margarita Vargas-Betancourt. As noted in my last blog post, the Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group will be creating and developing a toolkit that will be available to communities as they assess the historical value of the historical monuments in their midst.

Your Membership:  I want to explore ways to help every SAA member feel connected and valued. I would encourage every member to think about the value of SAA and why you are a member in the first place. What benefits does it provide that you need? Is it access to publications, the Annual Meeting, networking, opportunities for volunteering, leadership and skill development, standards, or continuing education?

And what should SAA provide that it currently doesn’t? What can we do to break down barriers to participation? The Council will be working on what we can do to make it easier for every member to achieve her or his true potential as a professional. For our November “Mega-Issue” discussion, Council members will review the most recent survey conducted by the SAA Membership Committee and consider ways in which to eliminate barriers to participation.

Archives and Archivists Listserv. When does a good thing become a liability? How do you balance free speech needs with professional development? Hard questions, indeed, and the SAA Council will be discussing the future role of the A & A Listserv at its November meeting. For those of you who may not know, the A & A Listserv was an independent entity for many years, with thousands of non-SAA members. SAA agreed to host the listserv as a service to the profession—both those in it and those considering joining it.  The Council has been down this road before, and I thought it would be helpful to share the report and minutes from that 2014 experience (see motions 5 and 6 on pages 12 and 13 of the minutes). Do you have comments you would like to share with me? Please let me know at, and you are welcome to request anonymity. Unfortunately, whatever way Council decides to go, there will be people left unhappy. However, this also may provide us with new opportunities to discuss how we might better connect with each other, especially when we disagree.

Our Portland meeting was our second-best-attended conference ever, and I have no doubt that had a good deal to do with our excellent program. However, part of the Listserv discussion was more than a simple disagreement and may have put some of our members at risk, and that is completely unacceptable. These are dangerous times, and we must watch out for each other.

An important component of membership is assessing where we are. The recently appointed Task Force on Research/Data and Evaluation will be anticipating SAA’s future efforts to conduct, facilitate, and evaluate research that will be useful as we make decisions about the future. Task Force members are: Michelle Light (Chair), Sarah Buchanan, Mahnaz Ghaznavi, Dennis Meissner, Dan Noonan, and Stacie Williams.

Finally, one of the most important responsibilities of each Council member is to practice Fiscal Responsibility and Stewardship of SAA’s finances through these challenging times. While our decision-making process is certainly not always about the money, funding does mean SAA can provide much-needed member services and even expand those services as we hope to do in Austin 2019. The SAA Foundation is also establishing additional financial resources for SAA members to access when needed and the Foundation already has awarded three grants for special projects. This is in addition to our very important National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives.

Of particular interest to me in the long term is my interest in expanding SAA’s financial support by collaborating and partnering with private foundations and other organizations that believe archives are important. We have long been reliant on federal funding agencies, but the time has come for us to find other resources that match our core values and give us more flexibility in decision-making.

I would ask all SAA members to think, for a moment, of the many individuals who attended the Annual Meeting and those who were not able to do, a total of more than 6,100 members—the depth and breadth of the experiences, energy, and commitment of all of you. During my time with SAA, I have always been impressed with the level of volunteerism our members demonstrate in doing the work of the Society and the profession. It is my job, in this brief time as your leader, to collaborate with you to harness all of that for SAA and for each other. The work we do is hard. It is emotionally challenging and sometimes difficult, and we face many of society’s broader challenges as well. I cannot guarantee this year will be easy for archivists or SAA (in fact, I already know it is not!), but I can promise that I will be there for you. I will also promise to guide SAA as we make very difficult decisions about our future with the goal being to do the best we can. If you have an idea or concern that you think should be considered or discussed, please contact me using the e-mail address. Our organization is only as successful as our willingness to listen to each other.

As I close, I look forward to seeing you at the 2018 Joint Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., where I will share a “State of SAA.” This address will compare and contrast today’s SAA to its past, review the results of the coming year, and provide some thoughts about where SAA’s future lies. In the meantime, let’s get to work!


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

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.


Bits, bobs, and bye!

It was wonderful to see so many of you in Portland OR for Archives 2017 – what a terrific meeting!

So glad to see all the tweets, Facebook updates, and highlights throughout the week for those of us who were there about sessions and events we couldn’t attend and for those who couldn’t be there in person.

Please do continue to share updates about what you’re doing throughout the year. We are working on more than we could possibly share in an Annual Meeting, no matter how chuck full of great updates and information it was. Here are a few resources to share that relate to my address and/or didn’t quite fit into a column.

One takeaway for me from the week and from portion of The Liberated Archive Forum I was able to attend was this:

If we refer to institutional policies that limit and discriminate as synonymous with archival practice, and then conclude that all archival practice is bad or ill-equipped for the hard work of social justice, we limit our tools and options, and do a disservice to the hard work of many archivists over many years. SAA and the broader archival community have developed tools and cumulative guidance – our code of ethics, our code of conduct, our principles and practice – that are essential for what we do. Institutional policies may discriminate or support systemic injustice – and many archivists are working to address them – but good archival practice does not. Good practice calls upon archivists to work to change unjust policies and to help communities and creators everywhere to preserve their history and memory.

Wonderful job Program Committee, Host Committee, SAA staff, and Event staff!

Thanks to all of you – see you next year, if not sooner!  Best-


Data rescue efforts and related resources:

Data Refuge

Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI)

Endangered Data Week

Blog post by Alex Chassanoff about the data rescue event at MIT:

Stronger together: the case for cross-sector collaboration in identifying and preserving at-risk data

Data-related resources:

Interesting Smithsonian article:

Data in the mainstream press – hot topic:

AA and other Archival resources:

rchives in Libraries: What Librarians and Archivists Need to Know to Work Together. Jeannette A. Bastian, Megan Sniffin-Marinoff, and Donna Webber

Article by Margaret Adams about punched cards, noting their addition in 1939 as a federal record format as an indicator that archivists have been involved with data for a long time:

Archives timeline (wonderful resource!) to put the Federal Records Act into context:





A year in review …

Wrapping up a year that has included many wonderful things and some challenges, I wanted to note a few highlights.

In case these slipped past, the SAA staff working with members of Council and other SAA groups accomplished some amazing things, including:

  • SAA website: A complete re-do of the SAA website, a vast resource for our Society that evolves and grows every day of the year. This was a huge and successful effort.
  • SAA Groups: An expansive reorganization of SAA’s groups with all of the associated documentation and other updates those changes required – this shift will enable SAA to more easily evolve and adapt as we move forward. (see Member Affinity Groups: Transition Work Plan)
  • American Archivist Editor: Filled the vacating position of Editor of The American Archivist – with thanks to outgoing Editor Greg Hunter and the 2017 search committee (Chris Prom, Erin Lawrimore, Jennifer Meehan Teresa Brinati, and Nancy Beaumont). We had a wonderful pool of candidates. Watch for opportunities to get involved with special issues of our journal. Congratulations to incoming Editor, Cal Lee!
  • Fundraising: As part of SAA’s efforts to grow and expand the effort of the SAA Foundation Board, consolidated SAA’s accounts to maximize the impact of our fundraising efforts – not a glitzy activity, but essential and beneficial as we ramp up to serve SAA members in known and new ways.

to name a few…

This year, as you’ve seen, I have focused on the connections among archives, history, and technology with a cross-cutting emphasis on diversity and inclusion. These are some of my favorite things, as you heard if you listen to my address, either in-person at the Annual Meeting or in the recorded version (available on the SAA website by the close of the Annual Meeting – look for it with Plenary 2 in the online program). Here are some examples:

Diversity and Inclusion

Professional Collaboration and inclusion: It was my pleasure to reach out to representatives from allied professional associations to attend our Annual Meeting this year (See: Inviting Other Organizations to the Annual Meeting and Archival Outlook May/June 2017). Nancy Beaumont, SAA’s Executive Director, and I contacted the executive directors and leaders of two dozen organizations – we shared our wish list with the SAA Council to ask for their ideas. The organizations that accepted our invitation and designated a representative from their leadership are:

  • Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) – Cheryl Middleton / Oregon State University
  • Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA) – Jordan Bass / University of Manitoba in Winnipeg
  • AMIA – Teague Schneiter / Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Association of Research Libraries (ARL) – Mark Puente and Judy Ruttenberg
  • Australian Society of Archivists (ASA) – Cassie Findlay / San Francisco
  • CLIR – Pedro Gonzalez-Fernandez and Nicole Ferraiolo
  • Digital Library Federation (DLF) – Rachel Mattson / La MaMa Archives
  • International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) – Tre Berney / Cornell University Library
  • Middle Eastern Librarians Association (MELA) – Sharon Smith / MIT
  • Open Repositories Steering Committee (OR) – Sarah Shreeves / University of Miami
  • Oral History Association – Doug Boyd / University of Kentucky
  • RBMS – Athena Jackson / Penn State University

Through the SAA leadership listserv, we encouraged SAA’s groups to connect with these representatives during the Annual Meeting and hopefully many attendees were able to connect with one or more of our guests.

One specific event we invited these representatives to attend was the SAA Leadership Town Hall on Thursday of the Annual Meeting. Having these representatives attend our annual meeting is an opportunity for SAA to discuss possible collaborations with other associations, with a particular focus on digital practice and diversity and inclusion. This is particularly timely as the SAA Council begins working on SAA’s next strategic plan beginning at the November 2017 SAA Council meeting.

SAA members should be aware that this is a one-time meeting for leaders of SAA and other professional associations to discuss opportunities and challenges. Nancy and I will follow up with representatives – all of whom expressed interest not only those who were able to attend – in a post-Annual Meeting call. We will share the results of the Town Hall and the follow up call and the SAA Council may decide to continue the discussion in some ways.

Watch for a special session at the 2018 SAA Research Forum – we will be inviting representatives from these, and possibly other, professional associations to participate.


SAA Digital Practice and Metadata Review: I was very pleased that Mark Matienzo agreed to complete, as approved by the SAA Council, a review of digital practice and metadata across SAA with an eye towards examples from other organizations that might inform SAA’s discussion about how to maximize our efforts in these areas. Mark presented an update at the 2017 Research Forum (his slides will be included in the online proceedings) and he attended SAA’s Leadership Town Hall.

Task Force on Research (Data) and Evaluation: You may recall that during last year’s Presidential address by Dennis Meissner, he called for the creation of a Committee on Research and Evaluation (CORE). Dennis worked with Council on a charge for a task force to provide recommendations about establishing such group. You will have seen the call for volunteers and the appointments to the task force will be announced soon. (see Proposal to Create Task Force on Research (Data) and Evaluation).


Milestones – 50 years for electronic records at NARA: This is just an example of the kind of milestone to embrace and celebrate. As a proud former member of the Electronic Records staff at NARA and given the sense many members have that digital practice is new, this was particularly significant for me to note. (see Archival Outlook Jan/Feb)

SAA Archives: I really enjoyed visiting and coordinating with Abbi Nye, our very able and amiable SAA Archivist and her team. We are very fortunate to have such a resource and one that has so many riches to be tapped for possible articles, exhibits, collaborations, and insights. Dive in! (see Archival Outlook Jan/Feb 2017)


Try 5: Just after our 2016 Annual Meeting, I launched #SAATry5, an initiative to encourage SAA members at all levels of experience to try 1) Try 5 technical thigs, 2) share your experience to encourage others, and 3) help someone else do something technical. I heard from many of you about your experiences and your local efforts (some organizations launched Try5 in parallel with our SAA efforts). Along the way I realized that lots of people were working on their 5 technical things (step 1) and helping someone do something technical (step 3), but sharing their experiences was harder for many people, understandably. The initiative isn’t officially ending – people are continuing to Try5 and help others. Please do continue and share your experiences if you have an opportunity!  (see Archival Outlook Sep/Oct)

It has been an amazing year. Best wishes from me to all SAA members and friends for your future adventures!

Guest Post: What does the National Archives do to support good recordkeeping during the change of administrations?

Guest post by Meg Phillips, External Affairs Liaison at the National Archives and Records Administration

The National Archives has been hard at work preparing for and then supporting the change in Presidential administrations. This is one of the moments when NARA’s role is particularly critical in ensuring that the normal functioning of government continues, that outgoing and incoming officials understand their responsibilities under the law, and that the records of the outgoing President are archived for posterity.

This has also been a transition of heightened interest in the role that we play, partly because of expected changes in policy between one administration and the next, and partly because of the increasing importance of social media, web records, and electronic messaging applications that are relatively new to recordkeeping processes.

For all these reasons, NARA has fielded an unusual number of press inquiries about the Presidential Records Act and the Federal Records Act and NARA policies over the last few months. In response, we’ve made a great deal of information on these issues publicly available on our web site.

We also publish all the guidance we provided to Federal agencies online to help them educate incoming and outgoing officials about their recordkeeping responsibilities. This package of guidance and training material is the most comprehensive (and social media savvy) we’ve ever prepared for a transition. We want it to be widely available within the Federal government, but it may also be useful to other government archivists in other settings.

One of the things I do as External Affairs Liaison is stay in touch with the leadership of SAA, the Council of State Archivists, and NAGARA throughout the year. The current guest post started out as background reading for a briefing on “what’s new at NARA” for the leadership of these organizations on February 13, 2017. We thought NARA’s activities might be of more general interest, so Nance invited me to share this summary of our activities with you here.

You can get a good sense of what we’ve made available for different audiences just by glancing over the list of resources here, but if you’re interested in the details, I hope you’ll click through and read some of the underlying guidance as well.

NARA Transition Guidance for Federal Agencies

Our Records Express blog did a good job of summarizing most of the guidance and tools available for Federal agencies in a post on November 16, 2016, “Records Management Guidance for the Presidential Transition.” Some of the key things mentioned are our kits for briefing new political appointees on Federal records management (including a video and handout) and new model checklists for use with incoming and outgoing employees to make sure all the recordkeeping bases are covered. The blog posts includes links to these other resources:

We’ve also reminded agencies of current policy on issues of high public and media interest, such as the management of web records, social media records, and other electronic records.

In many cases, websites contain databases or datasets. We remind agencies that such data, or the systems in which they reside, must be scheduled as Federal records. On the other hand, many records presented on agency websites are already scheduled and captured in agency systems that are properly scheduled in accordance with the Federal Records Act. Agencies must be able to identify situations in which this is the case.

NARA Transition Activities at the White House

The Presidential Records Act works differently than the Federal Records Act, and NARA has a limited role in the management of Presidential records – but the central role in archiving them at the end of a presidency.

NARA’s Public and Media Communications office has gotten a lot of questions about Presidential records issues, though, so they created a special National Archives News page to pull together information for the press and public: National Archives News: Presidential Records and Federal Records Guidance.   This includes the 2016 version of Guidance on Presidential Records, which we have prepared for every incoming administration since 2000.  They also posted the Archivist’s March 30, 2017, letter in response to a letter from Senators Claire McCaskill and Tom Carper asking about White House compliance with the Presidential Records Act (PRA), which addressed their questions about preserving the President’s tweets—including deleted tweets—and about the use of smartphone apps. The letter included the briefing material that NARA staff provided to the White House Counsel’s Office.

For a very good, thorough article on the process NARA goes through with the White House during a change in administration, see Moving Out, Moving In: The National Archives’ Important Role when the Presidency Changes Hands, Prologue Magazine, Winter 2016, Vol. 48, No. 4.

And finally, the Obama White House did a long blog post that describes part of NARA’s role in The Digital Transition: How the Presidential Transition Works in the Social Media Age, 10/31/ 2016. (While you’re there, note the in the URL – this is the archived version of the Obama White House web site, now hosted by NARA and the Obama Presidential Library.)

Guest Post: Committee on Education

Committee on Education Spring Meeting Report

Lauren Goodley, Committee on Education Vice-Chair/Incoming Chair

This March 9 and 10, the Committee on Education (CoE) met for our yearly work meeting. We met from 8-5 on day one, and 8-1 on day two (so everyone can fly out that day), including working breakfasts and lunches. By the end of the meeting, we got to know each other and our work, had a few heated discussions and found places of agreement, and we forged a clear path ahead for the coming year.

The Committee on Education also holds a business meeting at the SAA annual meeting, we have conference calls monthly, and members and SAA Education Coordinators work on duties throughout the year. But the spring meeting is the time when we sit down at the table and hammer out our plans and direction, and work on current courses in a holistic way.

We also took some time to say goodbye to Solveig DeSutter and welcome new Director of Education Kara Adams. Solveig retired last year, so we enjoyed a last chance to visit and pick her brain for institutional knowledge. Kara has quickly stepped into her new position, and is interested and devoted to developing more online courses, which are more accessible to the membership. (Update: the Education Office has acquired a new Learning Management System to facilitate online learning and management of courses.)


Staff Report:

An archives course was developed by the Simmons College Archives Faculty, three Massachusetts Municipal Clerks, the Massachusetts State Archives, and Gregor Trinkaus-Randall for the Massachusetts Municipal Clerks through an NHPRC grant. SAA Education Department will be taking over this course starting this fall. The Cultural Diversity Competency course will be an in-person workshop at Midwest Archives Conference in April 5, and to be developed into an online course. Teaching with Primary Sources is being developed and considering a “train the trainer” approach.

Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) Subcommittee Report:

  • Course Names: courses now use the term “digital” rather than “electronic,” reflecting digital as a subset of electronic.
  • Courses in certificate curriculum: 6 courses are currently co-listed in the DAS and Arrangement and Description (A&D) curriculum. The subcommittee sees further integration of courses in the future, with DAS courses as format-specific but better integrated with other courses.
  • Core Reading List: under development, to assist with preparing for the comprehensive exam, and as an additional resource.
  • Mosaic Fellows are now matched with a DAS mentor, and receive registration to several DAS courses.
  • DAS is looking into ways to provide direction and feedback for archivists seeking a DAS certificate.

History of Archival Graduate Education:
This year CoE intern Shanee’ Murrain, with the direction of CoE Chair Alison Clemens, conducted research into the history of archival graduate education. Shanee’ did a lit review going back to 1939, identified themes (namely, archives as coursework rather than a single course; and archives courses housed under history vs. library science). She also reviewed archival education and job preparedness and discussed the need for theory in tension with the need for job skills/practicum. Finally, Shanee’ looked at gaps in the data, particularly harvestable data and data from the global South.


Revisions to Guidelines for Archival Continuing Education (ACE) Guidelines:
The Archival Continuing Education Guidelines is one of CoE’s foundational documents. It was adopted by Council in 2006, and reviewed in 2010, so these year we reviewed and made some updates.

The biggest change was to remove digital as a separate area of archival knowledge. Instead, we included digital formats in a group of Specialized Courses. We also included a small step toward inclusiveness by stating that needs of people with disabilities should be considered when developing and offering courses.
The document has been sent to the Standards Committee, and from there it will go to Council for review.

Communications with Groups
We brainstormed ways to improve communication and collaboration with SAA sections, including the leadership activities google doc and liaising directly with section leaders. We’d like to tap into the knowledge base in the sections for new course ideas and development, course needs and education gaps, subject experts, and general feedback. And, sections can help share information about upcoming courses and opportunities to host courses.

Current and Future Courses
We reviewed the A&D courses and made decisions for what needed to be retired, reviewed, developed, and made appointments as to who would do this.

As for courses to be developed, we had some big ideas, which included an Essential Coding Suite and Digitization with an eye to Digital Preservation.
Finally, we looked at online courses under development.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of the work CoE does and our current business. If anything has caught your interest, or you have feedback or comment, please feel free to contact any of the membership, listed below. Contact information is available on the SAA website at under “Roster” (login required).
Also, there are eight pre-conference workshops available for the SAA Annual Meeting in Portland. Take a look here, and for our full course offerings here, or on the website under Education.

Committee on Education
Chair: Alison Clemens; Vice-chair: Lauren Goodley; Members: Sarah Buchanan, Stephanie Call, Erin Faulder, Marcy Flynn, Brad Houston, Martin Olliff, Seth Shaw, Matthew Strandmark; Intern: Shanee’ Murrain; DAS Chair: Mahnaz Ghaznavi; GAES Chair: Martin Olliff; Council Liaison: Kris Kiesling; Education Director: Kara Adams; Education Coordinators: Mia Capodilupo, Brianne Downing.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post erroneously stated that the Massachusetts Municipal Clerks is developing a suite of online courses. This information has been corrected in the Staff Report above.


Updates from the Archives: Guest Post from our SAA Archivist

Thanks to SAA’s Archivist, Abbi Nye, at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee for her guest blog post and watch for periodic highlights from the collections:

SAA Archives

One of the delightful benefits in assuming the role of SAA Archivist is that I have a reason to meander through the years of SAA’s development.  It’s fascinating, of course, to gain a better understanding of our organizational history, but it’s the people and the stories that really seize my attention.  Prominent archivists cease to be merely authors of the seminal articles we read in graduate school; the documents bring their humor, their friendship, and their disagreements to life.

There’s plenty of humor in the SAA archives:  “Dear Herb,” F. Gerald Ham joked to C. Herbert Finch about Finch’s addition to the SAA archives, “The confidential “Finch File” arrived in fine shape; do you want a 10 or 15 lid on this hot stuff?”  Newspaper clippings and committee minutes document the internal debates around pronunciation: should archivist be pronounced “ARK-uh-vist” or AR-KY-vist”?  As with all organizations, there are warts on display as well; past lists of SAA leaders aren’t exactly overflowing with diversity.

At their core, the SAA records and the manuscript collections from longtime archivists such as Larry Hackman and Helen Samuels address issues of professional identity. The true value of SAA’s archives lies not in answering questions about when a certain committee disbanded, but in helping us to understand our story and who we are as a professional community.

Archivists understand better than anyone how important it is to know where we’ve come from and what our values are.  I suspect that in the next few years, it will be essential to ground ourselves and to re-appraise our professional identity, to borrow a phrase from Elizabeth Snowden Johnson.  Absorb strength from our Code of Ethics and Core Values, but don’t neglect to look at previous versions and the thoughtful discussions behind our current Code.

To study the SAA archives is to understand that our profession is constantly evolving; we have lost the Scientific and Technological Manuscripts committee and lamination—thankfully—is no longer an acceptable preservation strategy.  In that spirit, challenge yourself to expand your reach this year.  Perhaps you’re passionate about engaging with issues of social justice and community archives.  Perhaps you want to expand your technical skill set by participating in the Try5 initiative.  Perhaps you’re eager to be an articulate advocate for archivists and the value of our work.  However you choose to engage, remember that you aren’t alone.  We have 80 years of archival records to prove it.

A brief note at the end of the year …

As this year ends and the next is about to begin, here’s a brief note to wish you the best for 2017.  As I wade through the long list of astonishing things in 2016, I’ve been appreciating the thoughtful words of others at year end, so I’m sharing some of those with you in hopes you also find them to be timely and encouraging.

First from Brenda Banks, past president of SAA and much-missed colleague who passed away this year, this wonderful quote from her 1996 presidential address you may have seen in the SAA Foundation Board’s annual letter:

“Armed with the lessons of the past, the willingness to accept or adapt to an ever-changing society, and commitment and conviction… we move confidently ahead to meet  the challenges of the future with knowledge, courage, and determination.”

And two more encouraging statements from nearby communities – in  each case, if we fill in “SAA” the words fit well.

From Mike Furlough, Executive Director of HathiTrust:

“At the end of a stressful, fractious, and divisive year in the US and beyond, I hope we can all agree that it’s good to see it drawing to a close.  That said, all of us at HathiTrust have been buoyed all year long by the work we do, and that’s in no small part because our membership so strongly believes in the necessity of our work and in developing community focused solutions to our common challenges.”

From President Reif of MIT:

“We live in a moment when, in our public conversation, familiar standards of decency and open, respectful discourse can no longer be taken for granted. These unwritten rules of a healthy society are especially significant in a community like ours; at MIT, our differences of opinion, perspective, training, identity and background, and our ability to navigate and learn from those differences, are essential to our creative excellence. These shared values have even greater importance in this charged time, when incidents of discrimination across the country have left many members of our community uneasy about their own safety.”

With your ongoing help and support, SAA will continue to accomplish great things for archives, archivists, and the broader community. On behalf of SAA, thank you for all of your hard work!

In the new year, I’ll continue to work hard with SAA Council, leaders, and individual members to advance our goals and to address issues and challenges as they arise; and on my own, to seek causes to contribute to and support – please do share your accomplishments and concerns as you do the same. Renewed by the holiday break, I’m looking forward to working with and hearing from you.  All the best!


p.s. watch for an update to SAA’s Strategic Plan in 2017 …

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 or