Waldo Gifford Leland Award: Cheryl Oestreicher

Cheryl Oestreicher, head of Special Collections and Archives and associate professor at Boise State University in Idaho, is the 2021 recipient of the Waldo Gifford Leland Award given by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) for her book Reference and Access for Archives and Manuscripts, published by SAA in 2020. The book is volume 4 in SAA’s Archival Fundamental Series III, a seven-volume series that provides a gateway to contemporary archival best practices. The award is given for writing of superior excellence and usefulness in the fields of archival history, theory, and practice.

In her book, Oestreicher incorporates history and theory to contextualize reference and access practices so that readers may recognize how these elements intersect, apply them in contemporary environments, and build upon them to advance the profession. Presented in a highly readable and thoughtful manner, Reference and Access for Archives and Manuscripts has wide applicability for beginning and experienced archivists who work in a variety of institutions. As the profession continues to evolve, archivists can—and should—revise their approach to reference and access practices, with particular attention to removing barriers that prevent some people from accessing archives. Oestreicher effectively breaks down components of physical, virtual, and intellectual access; offers guidance for archivists encountering various accessibility, privacy, and legal challenges; and presents useful case studies and tools for evaluating reference programs.

The Awards Committee noted that Oestreicher’s overview of access restrictions and emerging trends in digital access and outreach is especially important in the post-pandemic world. As Oestreicher writes in her book: “As the conduit between patrons and collections, archivists will have to develop even more skills and knowledge moving forward. . . . It is an exciting time to be an archivist.”