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All, I apologize for the length of this posting, but really didn’t want to split it up!

Five years ago, I had the tremendous opportunity to participate in the very first Archives Leadership Institute (ALI), hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Funded by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the goal for the Institute was to “bring to tomorrow’s leaders the insights and understanding necessary for increasing public use and appreciation of archives.” The Institute provided a series of workshops on managing change, self-evaluation, working with external collaborators, and much, more more! We also worked in small groups and developed responses to specialized case studies. All in all, it was a excellent experience–I was able to meet new people, and build deeper friendships with those I already knew (FYI, the archives profession is extremely small, and even if you don’t know someone, you usually are only one degree away from a connection). My friend and colleague, Geof Huth, blogged about the entire week: http://anarchivist.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html

Now, in 2013, I am part of the Steering Committee, organizing the next 3-year set of ALI, held last week at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa (still sponsored by NHPRC): http://www.archivesleadershipinstitute.org/

The Committee consists of archivists (Rachel Vagts, ALI Director, and Sasha Griffin) from Luther College as well as representatives from New York (Geof Huth), Michigan (Beth Myers), Ohio (Dan Noonan), Oregon (Terry Baxter), Texas (Brenda Gunn), and of course, North Carolina (Tanya). The Steering Committee assisted in the development of the Institute content and logistics, and also reviewed applications (there were nearly 100 for 25 slots). For the Institute, the Committee conducted daily evaluations of the curriculum, and monitored the overall process by serving as facilitators for small groups in the cohort. All in all, we had a wonderful week (including a field trip to Seed Savers (which saves heirloom seeds) and a yoga class) and built many new relationships. The Institute also gained the moniker, “The Weight Gain” Institute because the food was so good.

For some photos (please note Audra Eagle Yun as she was one of the attendees): http://www.flickr.com/photos/55249940@N08/sets/72157634232465477/

The week began with a day dedicated to New Leadership Thinking and Methods. Our facilitator for the entire week was community organizer and consultant, Luther Snow, who is based in Decorah. I found his concepts on generativity to be extremely helpful-the focus is on what you have, not on the negative aspects of continually thinking about your weaknesses. During the afternoon, the group was presented with a number of physical team challenges for team groups to solve to build bonding, and then we went to the high ropes course. We were really not sure how the group would respond, but it was amazing-even if you didn’t take the challenge of crossing a log 30 feet up, you could participate by serving on the belay team or cheering everyone else on. I finally broke down and participated in the swing, which draws you up about 30 feet in the air, and after you pull the cord, swoosh, you swing through the air numerous times. I am afraid of heights, but after everyone else on the Steering Committee AND my small group tried at least one thing, I felt obligated as a point of pride. Next year, I am planning to tackle the diagonal log climb. See the photos on the Flickr site, yikes!

On Day two, Dan Noonan from Ohio State presented on Strategies for Born Digital Resources. The constant mantra of dealing with electronic records is never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In other works, do something, even if it is not perfect. Day 3 brought Sharon Leon (Director of Public Projects, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and Media, George Mason) who oversees OMEKA and Scripto, focus on project management. Christopher Barth, from West Point, spoke on Strategic Visioning and Team Development. One of the best things about his presentation (in addition to the content) was his use of PollEv which enable the participants to text thoughts on various questions he asked, which were then displayed to everyone:
http://www.polleverywhere.com/polls/1018107-httppollevcom

Finally, Day five brought Kathleen Roe to speak about Archival Advocacy and Awareness. Kathleen is an SAA Fellow and has been an archivist with the New York State Archives for nearly 35 years. She is also the incoming president for the Society of American Archivists, and has been a leader in building awareness of and financial support for archives. The week ended with a special celebratory dinner, which included heartfelt stories from the participants as well as inside jokes concerning bacon, shoes, and trolls. The group will be meeting again at the annual meeting for the Society of American Archivists, being held in New Orleans in August. There will be a dinner (including ALI alumni from past years) as well as a morning workshop to discuss potential service activities. ALI has had a tremendous impact on the archival profession by developing the potential leadership skills in a wide range of archival professionals throughout the country. I am glad I was able to participate in continuing this important program.

FYI-as I was recently elected to ZSR’s Mentoring Committee, I thought I would share a couple of items from ALI 2012, where I presented specifically on mentoring. The first is an outline of my presentation and a bibliography on mentoring-if you have questions about either, please do not hesitate to let me know!
http://www.slis.wisc.edu/documents/zanish-belcher_text.pdf
http://www.slis.wisc.edu/documents/zanish-belcher_bib.pdf