Library of Congress
Library of Congress

I recently traveled to Washington, DC for the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Conference. I had a great experience attending a variety of different sessions and events. This conference was a bit of a change for me as my role in Special Collections & Archives is changing with my new position as Public Services Archivist. Although I attended collections focused sessions, I also made my way to instruction, outreach, and access sessions.

Some highlights include:

Regional Archival Associations Consortium

My third time representing the Society of North Carolina Archivists at a RAAC meeting was a very productive one. RAAC is a new group to SAA and the idea is to be a clearinghouse as well as a resource for regional and state associations (like SNCA) to have a voice at a national conference. I am a member of the Public Awareness Subcommittee, which is a great fir for my new position as Public Services Archivist. The Public Awareness Subcommittee breakout session brainstormed many ideas of how the good work regional and state associations are doing can translate beyond their borders. We also came to the conclusion that there is a lot of opportunity for overlap with associations like ALA (and RBMS) and the like. I enjoyed the great discussions we had in this meeting and look forward to learning from and contributing to the Public Awareness Subcommittee in the future.

Web Archiving Roundtable

Another new group, this was only the second SAA where this group met. I find this to be a great group of people to both learn from as well as commiserate with. Web Archiving is a new and fickle focus in the lives of archivists. It is nice to hear of successes and challenges from people who dedicate a tremendous amount of resources and time to the job. Interesting topics of appraisal came up a few times including topics like web archiving what is going on in Ferguson, MO as well as how to get a complete record of a collecting area as broad as “Mormons.” Here at ZSR we use Archive-It to capture our web presence and there are always folks at these meetings from Archive-It to answer questions. My favorite bit was the speaker who explained that we have to give up perfection when web archiving…that is certainly true!

Reference, Access, and Outreach Section

Another great group of people, the RAO Section hosts a “marketplace of ideas” during their time to encourage discussion. I very much enjoy listening to reference, access, and outreach strategies that have been successful at other institutions. Things like “pop-up” archives at student events, having a stronger social media presence, and engaging with faculty by taking their classes were just a few of the good ideas I heard at this meeting. I hope I can be more active with this group in the future, as they have a lot going on.

Teaching & Outreach

A session I attended on teaching and outreach had some great ideas on how to engage users of all ages during instruction sessions. One I liked best was to encourage classes to bring four things from home as their “personal” archive. Mix these things up and have other people organize, arrange, and describe them. Analysis of everyday things might give them a better sense of an archives rather than what we are currently presenting in instruction sessions.

These are just a few of the ideas I took away with me from SAA this year. I enjoyed this conference greatly and found that my new perspective coupled with my years of experience made this a different sort of conference. I am getting to know the profession better and the people in it, enhancing my conference experience greatly. Thanks to the Dean’s office for making my attendance possible.