A*CENSUS II: Let’s Get Started!

August 3, 2021—As SAA looks to the future of archives work and advocates on behalf of the profession, it’s critically important that we understand who is doing the work now, the issues that archives workers face, how we’re being compensated, and so much more.

That’s why SAA sought (and received!) funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to conduct two surveys of the archives profession under one umbrella: A*CENSUS II.

The original A*CENSUS, conducted 17 years ago, focused on establishing a baseline of information about archivists, including demographics, education, and professional development needs. A*CENSUS II is even more ambitious! We will survey:

1. Every self-identified archivist/archives and community memory worker in the U.S. to gather information about their demographics, educational background and needs, job placement and status, and salaries, as well as their perspectives on key issues in the field, and

2. The administrators/directors/leaders of archival institutions to gather baseline data about institutional characteristics, resources, strategic directions, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and access issues. 

Importantly, A*CENSUS II will seek to broaden participation by including community archives and community archivists—groups that were not identified in the original survey.

Our partner in this work is Ithaka S+R, which has an excellent reputation in the humanities and heritage sector for designing and executing rigorous research studies in collaboration with academic and cultural communities. A 14-member Working Group of archivists is providing the conceptual framing of the studies as well as feedback and review of the surveys.

The first survey—of all archivists—will be fielded in October 2021. The survey of administrators will launch in early 2022. Results of both surveys will be shared widely and freely with the profession and will be published in American Archivist. The survey data will be available via the SAA Dataverse for use in individuals’ and institutions’ future research.

Your participation in these surveys is vitally important! Here’s what you can do:

Watch: Look for announcements about the individual survey, which will launch in October 2021.

Talk: Spread the word to anyone you know who does archival work. Think about who you know in community archives and nontraditional archives settings, so that we can get the broadest possible participation. Additional details about how to share the survey will be forthcoming.

Take the survey yourself!  Make sure that your voice is counted. Our future depends on it!