Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Society of American Archivists annual meeting report

From July 23 through 30, I was in Portland, Oregon for the 2017 Society of American Archivists annual meeting. Much of my time there was spent in SAA Council meetings or meetings of sections and committees to which I'm the Council liaison.

The week started with a day-long Council meeting on July 24. At that meeting, we:
  • Issued a statement on Concerns about 2019 Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, which was shared via the SAA website, social media, and an all-member email. 
  • Approved a petition to form a new section, the Independent Archives Section. 
  • Discussed the results of the Membership Committee’s Survey on Barriers to Participation in SAA and agreed to utilize the analysis during their strategic planning session at the November Council meeting. 
  • Discussed the procedures and criteria for component group funding requests and agreed to review a revised draft at the July 29 Council meeting. 
  • Approved SAA support for two International Council on Archives documents, the Principles of Access to Archives and the Basic Principles on the Role of Archivists and Records Managers in the Support of Human Rights.
On Wednesday, in addition to attending a number of section and committee meetings, I along with my two fellow first-year Council members organized and led SAA's annual Leadership Forum. This Forum brought together leaders from component groups across the organization to discuss collaboration, cooperation, and strategic planning. Thanks to lots of focused pre-event publicity (and promises of candy and buttons for attendees), we were very excited to have nearly 70 attendees at the Forum -- attendance in past years hovered around 20 or 30. Post-event feedback was extremely positive, and we plan to use what we learned as well as the feedback received to revise and update the leadership manual portion of SAA's website in the coming year.

Other less exciting but equally important Council responsibilities throughout the week included meeting with vendors to thank them for attendance and solicit feedback for our 2018 annual meeting in Washington, D.C., and attending the annual SAA business meeting on Friday afternoon.

While I wasn't able to get to many educational sessions due to Council responsibilities, I did attend (at least in part) three really strong sessions. Those sessions focused on email archiving, diversifying the archival record, and/or community archives. In particular, I was interested in one session focused on ways in which universities have enabled students to do intensive research into university history (and specifically underrepresented aspects of university history) through fellowships or projects in the archives. This session tied in nicely with some of the work we are doing with our 125th anniversary student researchers, but it also reinforced the importance of supporting this type of work on an on-going basis.

On Saturday, after our 7:30am Council meeting, we hosted The Liberated Archive Forum, which aimed to bring together archivists and community members in conversation over issues of documentation. The Forum was a departure from the typical annual meeting structure, and we were all very excited to see strong attendance.

And, with the end of the annual meeting on Saturday at 5pm came the end of my first year on SAA Council. Now I feel I have a better grasp on how the organization operates, I look forward to the remaining two years of my term!

No comments: