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I don’t know how I can possibly describe my 9 days in New Orleans, but I will certainly do my best!

I recently attended the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), held in New Orleans, in addition to other events tacked on at the beginning and the end of my travels. First off, I was part of a review team (with colleagues from the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University and the University of Iowa) who were asked to review the Newcomb Institute Women’s Archives, part of Tulane University. This is the first program review I have been involved in that was not for an academic program, academic department, or library. We met with the Institute’s archivist, Executive Director, staff, faculty, Tulane archivists, toured the Newcomb Archives, and reviewed documentation from the library and university. All in all, this was an interesting experience, and one I hope to write about in the future. Before SAA began, I was able to have a nice tour of the Garden District, visit the Ursuline Convent, and have dinner with some of my favorite archivist colleagues, including my sister-in-law, Stacy Belcher Gould. Stacy is the University Archivist at the University of Hong Kong and is not always able to come to SAA, so this was a big treat.

At the very beginning of the week, I attended SAA Council meetings as I was elected to a three-year term last year (2012-2015). Council oversees all budgetary and programmatic activities of the Society, and meets three times per year (twice in Chicago in January and May, and at the annual meeting). Council completed a number of tasks, including reorganizing the annual meeting structure, reviewing reports, and creating an Advocacy and Public Policy Committee. I have been working on advocacy projects in conjunction with SAA, the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), and I will also be assisting with the work of this committee. After the annual meeting actually started, my main responsibility was to update numerous groups on Council activities and ask for feedback. “My” groups include the Diversity Committee, the Government Affairs Working Group, the Latin American and Caribbean Heritage Archives Roundtable, the Native American Roundtable, the College and University Archives Section, and the Science, Technology and Healthcare Roundtable.

On Tuesday, I attended the Women’s Archives Symposium, sponsored by the Newcomb Institute and Archives. This program was organized to coincide with SAA’s publication of my newly edited book (with Anke Voss), Perspectives on Women’s Archives (Society of American Archivists, 2013). I gave introductory remarks and listened to panel presentations and discussions organized around themes we raised in our introductory essay. There were 60 attendees and one of the participants blogged about the day:
http://lori.birrell.us/2013/08/14/what-does-the-future-hold/

All in all, it was a satisfactory end to 7 years of hard work:
http://saa.archivists.org/store/perspectives-on-womens-archives/3334/

During the annual meeting, I did manage to hear interesting presentations on institutional repositories and advocacy efforts in Alabama (presented by my very first archives employer, the Alabama Department of Archives and History). I made time to stop by Rebecca and Craig’s poster on Clarence Herbert New, it really did look wonderful. On Friday, I gave a presentation on women in science and engineering, in honor of archivist Joan Warnow Blewitt (American Institute of Physics), to the Science, Technology and Healthcare Roundtable. This presentation described oral history projects at ISU and potential future plans for a similar project at Wake Forest.

Finally, at the end of the week, as a Steering Committee member for the Archives Leadership Institute, I attended meetings, hosted an ALI alumni dinner, trekked down Bourbon Street at 11:00 p.m. and finished up with a Sunday morning workshop. Thank goodness, they had some coffee for us.

SAA is always incredibly exciting, stimulating, and exhausting–there is nothing like having 1,600 archivists all in the same place! I am now happy (and a little relieved, to be truthful) to be back in Winston-Salem. I look forward to catching up and staying put for some time….