SAA Public Policy Agenda (2022-2024)


SAA’s Public Policy Agenda outlines the organization’s public policy priorities.

Individual members or groups may request that SAA address these issues by following these procedures; SAA will consider them on a case-by-case basis. Requests for SAA to take action on a specific public policy issue will be more vigorously pursued if that issue aligns with this Agenda. However, many worthy advocacy issues lie outside the scope of this Public Policy Agenda.

SAA recognizes that social issues and archival concerns may overlap (e.g., in matters of personal privacy, access to public information, or misuse of records for political purposes). Therefore, SAA may speak out on human rights or social justice issues that affect archivists, researchers, and other users of archives.

As an organization that values social responsibility, the public good, and the completeness of the public record, SAA encourages its members to engage in advocacy as individuals, in accordance with their own values and priorities.

Many SAA groups discuss issues of importance to archivists and the archival community and work to empower SAA members to learn about and engage in advocacy. SAA members are encouraged to read about these groups and volunteer to become involved in them:

SAA Committee on Public Policy

SAA Committee on Ethics and Professional Conduct

SAA Intellectual Property Working Group

SAA Issues and Advocacy Section

SAA also collaborates with the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and the Regional Archival Associations Consortium on the CoSA/NAGARA/SAA/RAAC Joint Working Group on Issues and Awareness.


Archival sources protect the rights of individuals and organizations, enable the accountability of governments and institutions, and provide access to historical information and cultural heritage. In alignment with our Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics, SAA is committed to supporting policies that will make accessible evidence of the diverse and complex elements of the human experience; ensure the protection of privacy and individual rights; ensure the transparency and accountability of government at all levels; guarantee the administrative continuity necessary for good governance; and preserve historical documentation for future generations. SAA defines public policy as any government policy—federal, state, or municipal–that directly affects archivists or the archival record, including legislation, executive orders, judicial decisions, funding priorities, and other regulatory measures.

SAA firmly believes that the critical nature of information in a democracy places the burden to prove the need for withholding access to records, for reasons of confidentiality, classification, or otherwise, on those asserting such claims. Unless there are legal or other compelling reasons to the contrary, SAA will consistently value the general good obtained through open access to information over the limited good achieved by information closure or proprietary use. SAA also is committed to actively resisting policies that undermine existing records authority, public records law, and/or privacy laws or that endanger the integrity of the historical record held in both public and private institutions.

SAA will prioritize the following public policy areas:

  • Raising awareness of public policy issues that affect archivists and their ability to do their work in accordance with SAA’s Core Values and Code of Ethics;
  • Advancing the diversity of the archival record;
  • Protecting privacy and individual rights of archival subjects and users; 
  • Promoting the public’s right to access information held or created by public and publicly funded bodies, as well as the accessibility of that information in physical or digital formats;
  • Strengthening federal, state, and municipal records authority over information and data created by public and publicly funded bodies;
  • Supporting impartial and non-partisan federal, state, and municipal records authorities;
  • Ensuring adequate funding for government archives at the federal, state, and municipal level;
  • Ensuring adequate funding for federal and state programs that support archives and archival projects, including, but not limited to, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS);
  • Supporting a robust public domain, which forms the backbone of creative and research activities by ensuring access to unambiguously free cultural content; 
  • Advocating for copyright rules that preserve the incentives for creators to make and publish new works without unduly constraining the work archivists do in pursuit of their mission;
  • Supporting small archives* through advocacy that takes into account the specificities of their operations and resource constraints (*annual budgets under $100,000) 
  • Supporting public policy changes aimed at securing living wages, fair compensation, and workplace protections, for classes of workers that include archives employees.



SAA Committee on Public Policy

How to Suggest SAA Take Action on an Issue

SAA's Criteria for Advocacy Statements


Drafted by the SAA Committee on Public Policy.
Approved by the SAA Council: May 2022.

Date of next planned revision: 2024-2025.

To view previous versions, see:

2019-2020 Public Policy Agenda
2017-2018 Public Policy Agenda
2015-2017 Public Policy Agenda
2012-2014 Advocacy Agenda
2009-2010 Advocacy Agenda