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.

Archives

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).

History

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)

Technology

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!

Barriers to Participation Survey Report

Contributed by Kate Dundon and Matthew Gorzalski, Membership Committee

The SAA Membership Committee recently surveyed members about the barriers hindering participation in SAA.  We wanted to identify the issues affecting members’ engagement with the organization, and propose strategies to foster greater participation. The report is available on the SAA Membership Committee microsite. The survey returned 1,279 responses, or 21% of total SAA individual membership.  This blog post highlights some of the findings.

Slightly over half (52%) of respondents indicated that they’d like to be more involved in SAA.  When asked to choose from a list of barriers, respondents are most hindered by lack of financial support (58%) and lack of time (47%), followed by feelings of inexperience (28%) and uncertainty on how to become involved (22%).  Others (12%) noted unsuccessful attempts at appointment or election to a leadership position.

Comments from the free text response question revealed an interesting dichotomy of members’ perspective concerning SAA as an insular organization versus its efforts to engage membership in recent years. Many members experience feelings of intimidation and unwelcomeness that contribute to their hesitation to participate in SAA. These include: perception of cliquish leadership and membership; first-time annual meeting attendees intimidated by the size of the conference; low proportion of people of color in SAA; perception that SAA is dominated by the interests of academic archives; and the perception that the organization is dominated by liberal political views. On the other hand, others remarked that SAA has become significantly more engaging over time, particularly to younger members. One respondent stated, “New members have never had such opportunities for service.”

This survey has given us a better understanding of the complex barriers faced by members in participating in the organization. The Membership Committee compiled a list of suggestions for addressing these obstacles in our report, many of which were presented to us by survey respondents. Below is a small selection of the actions that we think would be the most impactful:

  • Continue to create more opportunities to participate virtually in order to mitigate geographic and financial barriers to participation. Consider live streaming annual meeting sessions, plenaries, and section and committee meetings. When feasible, provide recorded professional development workshops online for a fee.
  • Create a “Get Involved” section on the SAA website that clearly articulates the various paths toward involvement in committees, sections, etc., and centralizes information about all leadership positions. Open elected positions and committee appointments, with with estimated time commitments, could be posted to this centralized location.
  • Produce regular profiles of current SAA leaders or volunteers with a description of their path of service that led them to their current positions, perhaps in In the Loop or Archival Outlook. A respondent commented, “I think I’d have a clearer picture of how to start my own service with SAA if I saw examples of how others have done it.”

Do you have ideas about how to support engagement with SAA? Leave them in the comment section below!

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.

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 obamawhitehouse.archives.gov 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.)

REPORTS

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.

COMMITTEE WORK

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 http://www2.archivists.org/groups/education-committee 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.

Transparency in SAA Advocacy Governance and How to Build for the Future

By Michelle Light and Tanya Zanish-Belcher

Dear All:

We have received several questions about how SAA makes statements, how the most recent statements came into being, and how SAA members might become more involved in initiating statements. We are glad to see so much interest and hope this post will answer some of these questions. This will be the first of several blog posts on SAA’s advocacy efforts. Look for information about how you can be involved coming shortly!

The SAA Council (or its Executive Committee, which includes the President) may take a position on an issue of importance to the profession or the association. The Council is SAA’s elected governing body. Other groups and sections within SAA are not empowered to take action in the name of SAA without specific prior authorization from the Council. (See the Governance Manual for more information.)

The Council has determined that SAA will voice a position, make a statement, or take other action only on issues that are related directly to archives and archival functions. Priority advocacy issues are outlined in SAA’s Public Policy Agenda. The Council limits action to archival issues because SAA represents a diverse group of members with multiple perspectives and because SAA does not have the resources to gather a consensus of membership on a wide range of issues. (See SAA’s Criteria for Advocacy Statements for more information.)

Recently the SAA Council issued the SAA Statement on Executive Order Restricting Entry into the United States by Individuals from Seven Muslim-Majority Countries. In this case, an SAA member requested on the SAA Leader listserv that the Council make a statement opposing the executive order. The member cited a situation in which her work colleague was negatively affected by the order.  After this initial call for action, other SAA members forwarded to the Council and/or the SAA Leader discussion list more examples of the negative impact of the executive order on individual archivists (because of their country of origin or immigrant status), on archival research, and on the free exchange of information and ideas. In addition, more than 75 SAA leaders of sections and other component groups emailed the SAA Leader listserv in support of the Council taking action.

Simultaneously, SAA was reviewing statements issued by allied organizations, such as the American Library Association (ALA), the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), the Association for Research Libraries (ARL), the American Society for Information Science and Technology, and the American Historical Association (AHA).

After reviewing member comments and examples, consulting with the chair of the Committee on Public Policy, and reviewing the Council’s criteria for advocacy statements, a subgroup of Council members drafted a statement for the Council to discuss as an urgent matter. The Council vigorously debated making a statement. In the end, we decided it was in the best interests of our members to stand with our members who are facing discrimination or whose archival research is in jeopardy because of the executive order. The Council called attention to how the executive order is at odds with aspects of SAA’s Core Values of Archivists. After we discussed the proposed statement, it was revised and shared broadly. This statement is now available on the SAA website, along with our other position statements, statements, and issue briefs.

As part of this process, many individuals expressed an interest in participating in this kind of advocacy work. We encourage members, and especially sections, to engage in the advocacy process and to work on compiling and researching information to support well-informed, balanced issue briefs and statements. To suggest that SAA take action on an advocacy issue, individuals and groups will have the most success if they follow the Procedures for Suggesting SAA Advocacy Action. The procedures ask you to provide an overview of the issue, explain why the issue is important to archives and archivists, and consider the pros and cons of SAA taking a stand. Most issues should be referred to the chair of the Committee on Public Policy.  This Committee conducts research on public policy issues and provides strategic advice to the Council about SAA’s positions and statements. The Committee on Public Policy is responsible for drafting the issue briefs outlined in the Public Policy Agenda. Sometimes, however, an issue requires a more timely response, and a brief statement is more appropriate than a well-researched issue brief. In these urgent cases, members or groups should contact the Executive Director or the SAA President with their request. The SAA President, Executive Committee, or Council may choose to seek advice from the Committee on Public Policy or other groups before responding.

If SAA chooses not to take action or make a statement on an issue, SAA sections and other component groups may still make efforts to educate members and others about the issue, even if they are not authorized to take a stand on behalf of SAA. For example, the Oral History Section sought to educate archivists about the issues surrounding the controversial Belfast Project/Boston College Subpoena Case. The Issues & Advocacy Section maintains a blog with several informative posts about a variety of issues, and also provides a way to suggest an advocacy issue.

SAA will continue to work with a variety of individuals, groups, and allied organizations to ensure that we advocate on issues of importance to archives and archivists, especially those outlined in SAA’s public policy agenda. In the coming weeks and months, SAA’s Committee on Public Policy will examine in depth the impact of the current Administration’s recent decisions on numerous issues affecting our work as archivists. These include questions of continuing access to federal data, transparency and accountability of government, adherence to federal records management regulations, privacy, and more.