Pop-Up and Working Group Session Selection - VOTE NOW!

The 2019 Program Committee invites your vote(s) on which session(s) you would most like to see presented at the conference. Please vote for up to six proposals. The six proposals with the most votes will be presented as sessions in Austin. Deadline for casting your vote(s): Tuesday, June 11.

VOTE NOW!


12 Ways to Improve Your Archival Website
Scott Pitol, ARPO Index

Transform your website with 12 content enhancements that provide basic information about the archives and facilitate simple tasks online. These enhancements will allow researchers to:

  1. ask questions,
  2. browse holdings information,
  3. review information about planning a research visit,
  4. schedule a research appointment, and
  5. request materials for an appointment.  

Examining each of the 12 solutions in detail will encourage you to pursue these enhancements to your website.

If you’re able to update content on your website, you’ll be able to implement the 12 solutions.  This is the low-hanging fruit you can fix yourself while you wait for IT to implement other, more technical enhancements.

This session builds on the 2019 Spring-Summer American Archivist article, “Evaluating How Well an Archival Website Allows a Researcher to Prepare for an On-Site Visit,” and the 2018 SAA session, “Can They Get Here from There? Bringing Online Researchers to the Reading Room,” which introduced the Archives Research Preparation Online (ARPO) Index. Implementing the enhancements presented in this session will increase an institution’s ARPO Index score by 34%.

Individually, this information in useful to any archivist whose institution is open to the public and has a public-facing website, regardless of the archivists’ gender, race, age, length of time in profession, ability, or access to financial resources. Institutionally, it applies to academic, government, non-profit, large, and small archives plus business/corporate collections in one of these institutions. Geographically, it applies to an archives regardless of its location.


Archival Internships: Assessing Successes, Failures, and Opportunities
Sarah Pratt, Boston University / Simmons University

This working group will explore existing internship programming structures, including those that are paid, unpaid, and/or for course credit. The group will also explore opportunities to expand beyond the current models, using the recommendations set forth in SAA’s Best Practices For Interships as a starting point. Participants will benefit from hearing about the experiences of their colleagues, the successes and failures of past or current programming, and the lessons learned along the way. This open and honest conversation is intended to generate ideas for more inclusive internship programming, considering recruitment, hiring, project design, and evaluation. This working group will allow for ample time for participants to share their experiences or seek guidance from experienced colleagues. The chair will then direct the conversation toward specific topics, such as compensation, inclusive project design, evaluation and assessment strategies, and onboarding and off-boarding.

Representatives from any archives – public or private, big or small – should feel welcome to come and share their experiences and or interest in internship programming, or to stop by to hear what colleagues have to say.  Those without existing programming or experience should also feel free to join the conversation; students or recent interns should also feel welcome to share their perspective. This working group intends to address means of creating inclusive environments for interns in the workplace and the exploration of projects that attempt to offer a more diverse experience for our student interns.


Archivists as Teachers: A to Z on How to Engage, Conduct, and Maintain Educational Practice in our Communities
Ryan Leimkuehler, Kansas State University, James Roussain, John M. Kelly Library, University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, Gayle Schechter, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, Martina Dodd, Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library

Why is it that archivists are hesitant to identify as teachers? Bringing together thepedagogical experiences of five professionals through four presentations, this panel will address how we, as burgeoning--yet poorly understood--educators, seek to challenge the 'show-and-tell' status quo of the archivist-asteacher. Through a discussion of case studies, opportunities for institutional collaboration, virtual access, and a reflection on archival intelligence and our roles as pedagogues, this panel will issue a call-to-action within theprofession to reflect and challenge our understanding of how to engage our users and communities. The panel will offer insight for professionals who are starting an educational program, seasoned instructors, and archivists who desire deeper educational engagement opportunities or whom are looking to boost their professional confidence.Additionally, the panel will show how educational efforts naturally serve as active advocacy for both our archives and the larger profession, therein bolstering the outreach work that we do daily.

Representing four unique post-secondary settings from across the United States and Canada of varied size, from within both archival and museological settings, our panelists bring a diversified voice. While some participants are in senior management positions in institutions with established outreach and educational programs, others are at the beginning of their careers and are looking to start new initiatives. This session is targeted at archivists, curators, and special collection librarians from all levels of experience who are curious about developing or improving a teaching program using primary sources.


Co-archiving Diverse Student Groups: Collaborative Archiving of Memes, A Secret Society, and Activism
Jessika Drmacich, Williams College

Presenter will discuss co-archiving practices for four diverse student groups at Williams College: the student meme page (private Facebook group), Divest Williams, Asian American Students in Action, and a secret society.

Purpose:

  1. How does co-archiving advance diversity, equity, and inclusion?  
  2. As archivists we embrace diversity and inclusion as part of institutional directives, but still default towards legacy methods of instruction, collecting, and providing access. With this in mind, how can we grow as a profession and as information professionals? 
  3. How does student privacy play a role? 
  4. How does co-archiving decrease barriers to Libraries and Special Collections?

Intended Audience: Archivists and records managers at higher eduction institutions, student group leaders. Session presentation conversation based on learning outcome questions (from above).

Co-archiving, a non-hegemonic process of gathering records for a group, requires outreach and active consent, as well as processes to deal with regular turnover. Presenting co-archiving initiatives at a small liberal arts college that involves digital records of student groups, collecting artifacts of traditionally underrepresented aspects of student life and campus culture, and preserving campus meme culture-- this session will examine some of the practical, ethical, and technological challenges of archival student life and compel us all to turn a critical eye on our institutional memories and and the role we, as archives professionals, play in crafting it.


Collecting as Collaborative Practice: Developing Tools to Promote a Lifecycle Stewardship Model for Archives and Special Collections
Carrie Hintz, Rose Library, Emory University, Andra Darlington, Getty Research Institute, Mary Kidd, New York Public Library, Chela Scott Weber, OCLC Research Library Partnership

A key to making informed collection development, appraisal, and processing decisions is a strong understanding of the institutional resources required to preserve, describe, store, and make accessible collection material. But in many institutions, those tasked with building collections are separate from those tasked with the ongoing stewardship work of collections, and institutions may lack clear, timely, and actionable information on the institution’s capacity to care for its collections, making a holistic approach to acquisition, appraisal, and stewardship decisions especially challenging.

 In 2018, The OCLC Research Library Partnership convened a Collection Building and Operational Impacts Working Group, or CBOI, to explore how institutions are balancing our collection building and collection management responsibilities, and to develop tools and strategies to help institutions think holistically about collections stewardship and institutional capacity.  

To this end, CBOI is developing a series of deliverables including an annotated bibliography of relevant literature, a white paper outlining the ethical imperatives around collection stewardship and practical strategies for enacting responsible collecting, and a suite of tools to estimate the total and ongoing cost of acquisition and better communicate those costs out to internal stakeholders. 

We are currently in the midst of this work, and this working group session will provide us a unique opportunity to demo our tool prototypes out to a broader range of institutions and gather community feedback about the value and usefulness of the proposed tools. The feedback gathered during this working group session will be incorporated into the group’s ongoing work.

The CBOI’s deliverables provide tools to develop a concrete understanding of archival and digital collections labor. Labor in libraries, archives and museums, has been traditionally invisible and undervalued, for both physical and digital collections, an issue that is known to disproportionately affect marginalized and underrepresented workers.

It is the hope that, in developing and providing freely available and easy-to-use tools, its users may use what they output (such as calculation data) to advocate for additional resources, secure permanent/non-temporary positions, and influence overall institutional collection development policies and practice.


Combatting Erasure Taxonomic Development on the Local Level
Claudia Friedel, she | her | hers, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University Contemporary Art, Nicolette Archambault, she | her | hers, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University 

Combatting historical erasure-how to develop working groups to ensure holdings are findable to the communities whose stories are held. The aim of this workshop is to develop a toolkit for organizations and institutions to generate local/regional taxonomies in collaboration with stakeholders in local under-represented-including but not limited too LGBTQ+ and Activist Communities. Moreover, how do we actively combat erasure/ systemic power dynamics to promote discoverability of holdings by developing regional Controlled Vocabularies, Taxonomies, and national standards? How can we echo this history as a thread in our contemporary dialogue--shifting from collective history to collective intelligence.
The intent of this workshop is to put theory into practice. Empower archivists with tools to step outside of their comfort zones, be vulnerable, and learn from a more inclusive and broader dialogue.
Topics to be explored:
  • Outreach and local working groups
  • What are open source platforms that are currently being/could be used?
  • Frameworks for collaborative processing with stakeholders
  • Generating space to discuss and centralize work that has already been done
  • Tools for data gathering and cv development-Google Survey, Card Sorting

Confederate Currency: The Ongoing Role of Government Archives in Public Monument Controversies
Jelain Chubb, Texas State Archives, Timothy D. Baker, Maryland State Archives, John H. Slate, Dallas Municipal Archives, Amanda Fallis, City Archives and Special Collections, New Orleans Public Library, Mike Miller, Austin History Center. 

 Local and state governments are committed to assisting both citizen and internal constituents in the debate and decision making process over public memorials to the Confederacy and other groups. The purpose of the session is to discuss how government archives respond to citizen and government stakeholders as they make decisions regarding monuments, street names, historic properties, and other items. Because communties have responded to this movement in different ways, archives and archivists must be fluid in using different tools and strategies to serve various constituencies.

The goal is to demonstrate the value of archives in local and state governments in educating the public and elected officials, separating fact from fiction, and promoting transparency in government. The intended audience is anyone interested in the use of archives in the service of social justice and social equity in public policy. It is particularly aimed at archivists involved with pending or potential actions within their communities.

Local and state governments are committed to assisting both citizen and internal constituents in the debate and decision making  process over public memorials to the Confederacy and other groups. The purpose of the session is to discuss how government archives respond to citizen and government stakeholders as they make decisions regarding monuments, street names, historic properties, and other items. Because communties have responded to this movement in different ways, archives and archivists must be fluid in using different tools and strategies to serve various constituencies.

The goal is to demonstrate the value of archives in local and state governments in educating the public and elected officials, separating fact from fiction, and promoting transparency in government.

The intended audience is anyone interested in the use of archives in the service of social justice and social equity in public policy. It is particularly aimed at archivists involved with pending or potential actions within their communities.


Developing Training Strategies for Archivists: A Roundtable Conversation
Jen Hoyer, Brooklyn Public Library, Bonnie Gordon, Rockefeller Archive Center

In this session, we aim to bring together professionals from all levels of experience in the field for a facilitated conversation about professional development. The goal of our session is to think about what kinds of professional development will uplift us in our field, what we want out of effective a training, and how our organizations and our professional community can better support this. 

Following a ten minute introduction based on the ideas presented in “Developing a Training Strategy for Archivists” (https://blog.rockarch.org/developing-training-strategy), attendees will break into small groups to discuss a series of questions including: what barriers have you faced in obtaining professional development? What is the best professional development you've participated in, and why was it so useful? What has helped you find and participate in professional development? What supports -- both inside and outside your institution -- would make professional development easier for you? What skills do you want to build as a professional? What kind of professional development do YOU want to deliver? 

Small group conversations (30 minutes) will be structured in a self-facilitated format using post-it notes to gather individual ideas and focus conversation on the group’s main interests; these conversations will be followed by a larger group sharing session (20 minutes). Attendee responses will be documented through the self-facilitation techniques and will be compiled into a zine that will be made freely available after the conference (or during, depending on the scheduling of this session).

This session aims to bring together professionals from all levels of experience working in the field for a facilitated conversation about professional development. The goal of our session is to think about what kinds of professional development will uplift us in our field, and how our organizations and our professional community can better support this. During the breakout portion of this session, we will provide small-group discussion facilitation strategies that ensure ideas from all participations are represented and captured, and we’ll document the reflections and suggestions generated in this session through a zine that will be made freely available.


This proposal was selected by the 2019 Program Committe Co-Chairs and will take place on Sunday, August 4, 2019.

Happy Endings Only, Please! Documenting Community Development in Governmental Archives
Natasha Kovalyova, University of Texas at Austin, Amy Padilla University of Texas at Austin, Haley Latta University of Texas at Austin

Three archivists-in-training will discuss the challenges of appraising a collection of electronic documents from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Specifically, we will be focusing on the Community Development Block Grants and programs targeting the colonias – areas with populations of low-income that sit along the United State-Mexico border. In the state of Texas alone, there are over 2000 of these types of settlements. We will discuss our encounters with the “traces” of the colonias in our collection of the materials (particularly, photos with little identifying information) and will share our experiences of recognizing the archive’s participation in exercising control over the community narratives.

Our involvement in the appraisal of community development grants alerted us to moments of invention in the archives, namely, how governing practices impose narratives about underprivileged populations and how those narratives can be emphasized or erased through archival practices. We will also address the difficulties of appraising an incomplete selection of files and how this affected our ability to fully understand the competing narratives.

We envision this session as including an interactive discussion with the audience, inviting them to share stories of unease and discomfort when making appraisal decisions on conflicting, controversial, and contradictory materials, their memories of encountering archival silences, and their strategies for dealing with it. As aspiring archivists, we are particularly interested in soliciting advice for young archivists still working on crafting their professional identities.

This session will directly address the issues of power, erasure, and marginalization encountered when appraising government documents related to the community development block grants in Texas, especially in the documentation of the southern-border colonias. Our discussion will speak to the double-edge issue of government’s programs aiming to transform poor communities by providing for basic needs (such as housing, water, and basic infrastructure) and those programs’ potential for disrupting the communities’ social fabric, identity strategies, and memory practices. Additionally, we will discuss archivists’ responsibilities of documenting competing narratives and controversial outcomes of the community development iniatives.


Hidden in Plain Sight? Locating Records of Under-documented Women
Kathryn Antonelli, Temple University, Jordan Landes, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

Thinking about the upcoming anniversary of the 19th amendment, we recognize that neither the woman suffrage movement of the era nor mainstream archives post-movement have represented all women in this country. Records of women of diverse race, class, (dis)ability, sexuality, and other marginalized identities were never memorialized or have been lost. The In Her Own Right Project (InHOR) is working to discover ethical ways to restore records of these “hidden voices.”This working group aims to bring together the many issues involved in documenting women’s history outside mainstream archives. We will explore best practices for engaging with non-archival communities, their stewards (whether archivist or layperson), and their records, including discussion of the value of and use opportunities for records shared through cultural practices other than the written page. We will also consider how to create reciprocal relationships with these communities, avoiding colonialist acquisition practices. The session will generate action items from which InHOR will benefit, and which will be accessible to the public via a blog post on the project page (in addition to any other deliverables produced by SAA). The session will open with a brief explanation of the InHOR project and its search for “hidden voices”, followed by an inquiry of participant experiences. Attendees are expected to be active participants but not experts in these topics. Come prepared to share and engage in a guided discussion. Tales of institutional successes and failures are especially welcome and will be kept anonymous in the post-session notes.

This session will gather together many of the questions and issues that have been brought up through the years in pursuit of inclusivity in the archival record, specifically around women. Discussion questions will target these erasures ("hidden voices"), how we can attempt to restore them, and how we can avoid colonialist methods of acquisition while doing this work. The session additionally addresses power structures by intentionally considering how archivists can work ethically/respectfully with institutions and communities holding small archival collections, which may not have the same financial and professional support nor the same preferred methods as "mainstream" ones.


How Does It Really Work? Software Preservation and Emulation in the Archives
Lauren Work, University of Virginia Library, Tracy Popp, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library

To demonstrate how the transformative, new pathways around the work of software preservation and emulation has been tested and implemented in two archives via two cohort members of the Fostering a Community of Practice (FCOP) project. 

Our intended audience is anyone who is curious about the work of software preservation and emulation in an archival context, whether they are new to the topic or have started to investigate this approach within their own archives. Concepts will be presented and discussed in a way that will encourage audience participation, but will be framed in a structured way around use case examples and archival best practice. Discussion of how this work is tied to inclusivity and representation in the archival record will also be highlighted and centered in our session.

The session will proceed as follows:

  • Brief introduction of speakers and the goals and structure of the session
  • Use case: University of Illinois software preservation and emulation
  • Use case: University of Virginia software preservation and emulation
  • Compare use cases to frame with the audience where our shared gaps or strengths may have emerged institutionally in the archives, how we sought to document and implement our use cases to address issues of scale, technical and administrative knowledge and decision making, collection processing and topics of inclusivity as reflected in this type of work, resourcing realities, etc.
  • Further engage audience with questions that emerge as they think about their own collections and the topics discussed via the use cases and gaps discussions.

Collaborative software preservation and emulation services as exemplified through the Scaling Emulation and Software Preservation Infrastructure (EaaSI) enable broader access and use of preserved software and software-dependent digital objects. This collaborative model may lower access barriers to emulated environments which require significant resource investment that many smaller or under-resourced organizations may not have. Through the FCoP Cohort model, documentation and example workflows representing a wide range of collections and communities may also encourage and support archivists and records managers working in under-resourced institutions to undertake access through emulation and surface digital collections which may otherwise remain inaccessible.


Identifying the Dimensions of Relationship Descriptions
Katherine Wisser, SLIS, Simmons University, Betts Coup, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Jessica Sedgwick, Countway Library, Harvard Medical School, Susan Pyzynski, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Relationships are the newest frontier in archival description. From the romantic to the adversarial to the hierarchical, relationships are the connections between entities that have created, and are reflected in, archival collections. Describing relationships can not only serve to contextualize the materials, but may also offer new ways of exploring, navigating, and understanding collections outside of the traditional provenance-based, creator-centric, top-down approach of archival description.  While archivists have included relevant information about relationships in traditional archival description such as finding aids and catalog records, these connections are often implicit and without contextual or rich description. In addition, content standards for archival description provide only vague notions of which relationships warrant inclusion and what kind of information might be necessary. Building on a local workshop event held at Simmons University in 2018, this working group session seeks to explore the issues surrounding relationship description through the deconstruction of relationship examples solicited and compiled prior to the conference. Participants will be separated into groups and each group assigned a set of relationship examples. Groups will discuss the issues surrounding relationship description through the examples. After reporting out, a larger discussion about the process and next steps for the establishment of recommendations or guidelines will take place. The intended audience is the archival description and user services communities.

It is recognized that descriptive practices can constitute a significant arena to reinforce systemic power structures and marginalize voices. It should also be recognized that this is an arena where our strategies and methodologies can change to mitigate against that. The strategy of this working group session is to tackle relationship descriptions from a bottom-up perspective, using real-world relationship scenarios as the raw material is intended to reveal aspects of relationships that would inform description decisions rather than rely on assumptions already built into our descriptive practices.


Implementing and Assessing Public Services Measures and Metrics: A Community Dialog
Jaime Marie Burton, University of Kentucky, Amanda Hawk, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge

Accurate and meaningful measures and metrics are vital to creating sustainable programs. Last year’s approval of the SAA/ACRL-RBMS report, Standardized Statistical Measures and Metrics for Public Services in Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries, prompted many of us to implement new standards in our own institutions and to re-examine the ways assessment can be leveraged to benefit our organizations, staff, and researchers. This working group will facilitate conversation about experiences gained and lessons learned while putting standards or assessment tools into effect. We will ask the attendees to consider what the SAA community needs to succeed at collecting and assessing data, as well as using data to advocate for ourselves and the profession. The discussion will be led by members of SAA committees devoted to assessment and metrics – the newly-formed Committee on Research, Data, and Assessment, and the Reference, Access, and Outreach Section’s Public Services Assessment Sub-Committee. Working Group deliverables will be shared with both committees to aid in meeting SAA members’ needs in this developing area of interest.

Adoption of industry-wide professional standards and guidelines, like the Standardized Statistical Measures and Metrics report, aids in increasing transparency between archival institutions of all types and sizes, while allowing us to investigate and demonstrate how well our public service initiatives reach diverse audiences. We welcome all interested parties to join the working group, as hearing from members with varied backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences will help us more accurately document commonalities, challenges, and gaps in knowledge when it comes to implementing metrics and assessment. A portion of the session will focus on a potential new domain for ADA compliance and services.


Inclusive Collection Development Policies: A Working Session
Kira Dietz, Virginia Tech, Anthony Wright de Hernandez, Virginia Tech

This session will primarily take the form of a work session for participants to develop draft collection development policies. At the beginning of the session, some best practices for incorporating language about inclusion and diversity into collection development policies will be discussed and examples will be provided. The main portion of the session will feature discussion of why and how to approach this work for existing or future policies. Participants will have an opportunity to create and share language with the group, other participants, and/or facilitators, and receive feedback. The session is intended for people who have responsibility for or interest in creating, revising, or contributing to collection development policies, whether policies already exist or have yet to be created. Participants will leave this session with tools for developing inclusive collection development policies, as well as some draft language for implementation at their home institution.

The primary goal of this session is to help archivists create more inclusive collection development policies to better address the problems of community erasure and marginalization within the archival record. Collection development policies, and the lack of policies, have historically reinforced European colonial attitudes toward community and social history, often excluding people of color, women, gender, sexual, and religious minorities from documented history. Changing how these policies are written helps to solidify a commitment to including these voices in our collections in the future and begins to address the historic imbalance within our existing collections.


Low Pay in Archives: Review of Recent Events, and Where Do We Go From Here?
Mark Lambert, Texas General Land Office, Sara DeCaro, Baker University, Talya Cooper, The Intercept, Samantha Dodd, Southern Methodist University, Rosemary Davis, Yale University, Rose Oliveira, Connecticut College  

This Pop-Up Session will discuss the current state of generally low pay for archivists in the U.S., discuss SAA and regional archival organizations recent attempts at doing something about it, including archival certification, salary job listing requirements, recommended salary minimums, and the current literature in the field; look at salaries across the country and useful statistical data like the salary required to own a home in a specific city; and strategize additional ways the profession can help push salaries upwards, including possibly unionization.

This session will require a lot of audience participation: so bring your "concise" archival salary horror stories (anonymized please) so we can all commiserate, BUT also bring a "workable" strategy or two to suggest to help bring salaries up in the archival profession. The panel will later compile all the ideas and post them publicly.

The low salaries in the archival profession can limit wealth accumulation over a lifetime needed to provide for the retirement years, lead to a lower quality of life, and can even take an emotional toll on its current employees. The low salaries can even be partially blamed for another major problem within the profession, the lack of diversity. Why get a graduate level education for archival pay, when you can get a bachelor’s degree in many other fields and make double what an archivist makes? Better pay for archivists would help change this major problem.


This proposal was selected by the 2019 Program Committe Co-Chairs and will take place on Monday, August 5, 2019.

Neurodiversity in Archives
Eric Hung, Music of Asian America Research Center, Lydia Tang, Michigan State University, Chris Tanguay, MIT Libraries

Neurodiversity has been a neglected topic in both archival scholarship and archival practice. The American Archivist, Archivaria, and the Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies have yet to publish an article on neurodiversity, and have published only a handful of articles on specific neurodivergent conditions. The SAA conference programs since 2016 have not included any of the following words: neurodiversity, neurodiverse, autism, autistic, dyslexia, and dyslexic.  Moreover, terms associated with neurodiversity rarely appear in finding aids, and few archives have made intentional efforts to collect materials associated with neurodiversity.  More importantly, although many of us have archivist friends that are neurodivergent, few archivists have felt safe to publicly disclose and self-advocate in professional settings.

For these reasons, the organizers of this working group believe that the archives profession will strongly benefit from an intentional effort to discuss, and then publish articles and white papers on neurodiversity in archives.  The facilitators will begin by providing overviews of the Disability Rights and Neurodiversity movements. Afterward, we will introduce the following three topics:

  • Hiring, training, and retaining neurodivergent employees in archives
  • Producing a safer, more welcoming environment in archives for neurodivergent employees and researchers
  • Encouraging archives to collect materials related to the history of the neurodiversity movement and experience of neurodivergent populations.

We will then solicit additional issues for discussion. The session will conclude by assigning participants into groups to work on a specific topic. The goal is for each group to produce documentation to help make archives friendlier to neurodivergent populations.

This working group is dedicated to making archives and the archival profession more welcoming for neurodivergent people. 

Our goals are fourfold:

  • To increase awareness about neurodiversity in the profession through this event and subsequent publication of theoretical and practical resources  
  • To influence and inform archival education and workplace practices so that more neurodivergent people can enter and thrive in the profession 
  • To increase the number of resources about neurodiversity, neurodivergent conditions, and disability in general in archives
  • To spark research about neurodiversity both inside and beyond the archival profession

Steal This Notebook!
Richard Marciano, University of Maryland iSchool, Greg Jansen, University of Maryland iSchool, William Underwood, University of Maryland iSchool

We are proposing a new type of session! This is a 75-minute interactive playful session, with a conversation and guided hands-on activities that demonstrate computational treatments of archival records (metadata extraction, data cleaning, data manipulation, visualization, analytics…).

We showcase a radically transparent approach to sharing archival workflows in case studies that address justice, human rights and cultural heritage. Examples include: revealing erasure in slavery archives, marginalization in racial zoning, and exposing power structures in citizen incarceration.

“Steal this Notebook” introduces a new format for sharing stories around archival data and the technical steps taken to process it. Jupyter Notebooks will be introduced in the pop-up session.  These are a modern digital reboot of historical paper-based lab notebooks that captured observations, notes, sketches, formulas, and data (think of the Old Weather project ship logs from the 19th and 20th century, the Lewis and Clark diaries, Darwin’s field notebooks, etc.).

Upon completion of this pop-up session, you will have gained an appreciation of how digital notebooks can benefit archives, how to adapt them to your needs and share them with your colleagues.  You will also be able to download our examples and take them home with you. We will also discuss how you can contribute your own digital archival stories through the authoring of your own notebooks.

The presenters are also standing up a website to facilitate the exchange of notebooks.  The goal is to enable a community of sharing that benefits archivists, educators, and researchers.

The notebooks in this session highlight hidden stories in the archival record, providing additional insights for archivists, historians, researchers, and the public. The approach is radically more transparent than back office digital treatments, showing workflows transparently and opening them up to outside participation and critique of methods and the resulting representations. All of our notebooks are tagged with a controlled vocabulary that captures: (1) specific archival practices involved, (2) the associated types of digital treatments, and (3) the underlying ethics and values.  As digital tools become ever more powerful, there is a need to balance enhanced access and privacy.


The April 30, 2019 Shooting at UNC Charlotte: A Ongoing Case Study and Discussion on Documenting Campus Tragedy and Response
Katie Howell, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Katie Howell, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Dawn Schmitz, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, Tyler Cline, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

On April 30, 2019 two UNC Charlotte students were killed and four others were injured when a fellow student entered their classroom and began shooting. In the wake of this tragedy, Special Collections & University Archives staff were immediately called upon to begin documentation efforts. In this panel, three archivists tasked with this work will discuss how they grappled with professional responsibilities in the midst of an immensely emotional situation; they will share their first-response collecting and outreach initiatives, including web archiving, temporary memorial management, and conducting oral histories; they will review the cross-campus collaborations that have emerged in support of these efforts; and they will address how the principles of radical empathy and inclusivity are informing their work. The panelists, coming from a place of self-reflection, hope to engage attendees in a dialogue about incorporating tragedy response best practices into their continuing documentation efforts. The audience for this panel is archivists, managers, and administrators working on college and university campuses, and those who have dealt with tragedy response initiatives in their schools and communities.

The panelists look forward to attending the session Tragedy Response: Preparation and Support for Archives and Communities, and are grateful the Task Force has shared the response toolkit with them. They hope this pop-up session provides an opportunity to focus specifically on the university setting and to invite their peers to help steer ongoing efforts. They will use the bulk of their time to facilitate a discussion through which attendees can both contribute and learn.

We will discuss our efforts and plans to be inclusive of a range of voices and perspectives in the documentation of this tragedy. For example, we seek to engage with students, organizers, and activists in addition to university administrators and staff, although the timing of the events has meant we have as yet barely begun these efforts. We will ask session attendees to challenge us with their ideas: What would it look like to be truly inclusive? We will also seek to foster dialogue on how the concept of radical empathy (Caswell and Cifor, 2016) can further guide these efforts.


Towards a Model of Technical Debt for Libraries and Archives
Rebecca Hirsch, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, Deirdre Joyce, Syracuse University, Julia Corrin, Carnegie Mellon University

This session will explore technical debt (TD) in digital projects and collections created by libraries, museums, and archives. The concept of TD was developed in computer science to describe decisions in implementation or design that negatively impact a project at a future point, and the metaphor was later applied to metadata creation in libraries. TD in digital projects can manifest as incomplete metadata, lack of documentation, and/or workflow inconsistencies, while the “interest” on the debt may grow over time, often complicating future use. This presentation will build upon our SAA panel from 2018, True Confessions: Paying Off the Technical Debt of Early Digital Projects, by delving further into types of technical debt encountered in LAMs projects and addressing how the presenters have struggled with technical debt at their institutions. The presenters will also touch on their work on moving towards a framework that can help LAMs practitioners with evaluating past and current digital projects, in areas including appraisal/reappraisal, decision-making and digital project management.

We anticipate those who work with digital projects, particularly digitization projects, in libraries, museums, and archives will be most interested in this topic, as well as students. Our aim is to facilitate a lively, interactive presentation and we will have plenty of time built in for questions and discussion. Quality issues in past and current digital projects are universal, and we hope to engage with audience members to learn what elements of TD resonate most in their work.

Digital projects are one of the main ways institutions are thinking about creating greater inclusion and diversity in their public online presence. Developing a technical debt framework for libraries, museums, and archives that focuses on systems, project management, and digitization will help guide LAMs practitioners in creating new digital projects and help institutions avoid or take on only “good” technical debt. Digitization can be an easy way to repatriate information held by institutions, if not the archives themselves. A technical debt framework could be particularly valuable for smaller, under-funded institutions struggling to determine how best to invest their limited resources.


Tracing the Emergence of LGBTQ+ Student Organizations in Middle Tennessee and their Fight for Visibility
Quinlan Odom, Middle Tennessee State University, Alissa Kane, Middle Tennessee State University

The Albert Gore Research Center (AGRC), at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), houses the university’s archives, as well as local, regional, and political collections. A few years ago, former members of MT Lambda, MTSU’s only LGBT+ student organization, donated their papers to the Gore Center. Using these resources, we will create a research poster that outlines this history as well as that of another LGBT+ student organization in the area. We also have an online exhibit that expands on this history using a widely accessible platform. We will display our poster and website at the pop-up session and allow people to interact with the material, as well as provide feedback on how to improve content.The purpose of the website and poster is to provide both an introduction to Middle Tennessee’s LGBT+ history, as well as acting as a resource for further research. It is aimed at students, educators, and scholars who are interested in exploring an under-documented part of university history. Facilitating conversation with others in the field will help us explore both the strengths and weaknesses of our site, and how we can improve in the future.

LGBT+ student organizations did not exist until the late 1960s nationally. It wasn’t until 1979 that Tennessee gained its first LGBT+ student organization at Austin Peay State University. Our research highlights the experiences of students working to form these groups and the prejudices they had to overcome. In the South LGBT+ history is still a burgeoning field. This project allows us to contribute to the historical narrative of LGBT+ activism in the South as well as the broader field of LGBT+ studies. The AGRC has worked to promote inclusivity in the archive and to build relationships with marginalized communities, allowing us to access this information.


Transforming Donor Relations: More than Meets the Eye
Trevor Alvord, Brigham Young University, Ryan Lee, 19th Century Mormon & Western Americana Manuscripts, Brigham Young University, Dainan Skeem, 21st Century Mormon & Western Americana Manuscripts, Brigham Young University

Fundamental to the role of any archivist or curator is working with donors in order to develop rich and specialized collections. Although donor relationships are critical it can also be a difficult task, and one that is not supported by robust literature within the archival profession. Complicating this issue is the transformation of working with 20th century donors to working with 21st century donors. This working group will explore those transformations by discussing previously unexplored issues such as what are our ethical responsibilities between social media and donors in perspective to the donor’s social media as well as the archive’s social media? How do we handle working with donors who are still alive and generating content without influencing their work? If we are working with living or younger donors who are still generating content, how do we ensure (can we ensure) adequate resources for the growth of their collection? How can we or the profession at large help insulate archivists and curators against institutional criticism when working with 21st century controversial donors and collections due to the lack of the passage of time, unlike many 20th century issues that are no longer considered controversial? These are just a few of the topics that would benefit from a more intentional conversation with interested participants.

This working group intends to explore the issues, challenges, and opportunities related to working with modern and diverse donors and collection development by primarily focusing on the ethical and structural obstacles of working with 21st century donors.


Ways of Seeing: Towards Digital Annotation and Narrative Tools for Archives
Venkat Srinivasan, Archives, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Mariella Soprano, Caltech Archives, Peter S. Collopy, Caltech Archives, Tommy Keswick, Caltech Library, Joseph Klett, Science History Institute,  Jody Roberts, Science History Institute

Archives create connections between memories and narratives. But the context for archive building and archiving processes is often invisible, preventing wider access and engagement. Annotations help us understand these processes. Annotation is both an act of classification and description. It reveals how memory becomes an archival object that persists across diverse narratives. Since annotations offer an interpretive space between archival objects and cultural and institutional practices, this way of seeing can be transformative for the archive and its audiences.We propose a working group session around a physical installation of objects and annotations. The installation is an interactive mix of archival objects drawn from repositories at collaborating institutions. These objects are tied together by an inherent narrative by virtue of their selection. Participants are invited to explore the objects and provide interpretations using a glossary of terms and adding new ones. They can also move these annotations within the installation to heighten or reduce their visibility (analogous to digital voting tools). Participants can record their own narratives using these emergent sets of terms. These new narratives will be circulated to share perspectives, generate secondary annotations, and help identify new archival objects. Similar to our prototype at 2018's 4S meeting, our goal in this session is to develop annotation processes and pedagogy for future digital applications. Two exploratory projects (working titles: Milli and Specere) are an annotation tool for users to reinterpret and weight descriptions of archival objects and a narrative building portal to use these diverse annotations.

Given the criticality in the way archives arrange, appraise, and describe archival records, and make them accessible, our approach here is to discuss the foundational interpretations of objects, stripped of our own biases and archival context. The installation is a way for us to get as diverse a set of people to come and look at the material and challenge the priorities, hierarchies of description and relations with other objects. We think building such digital tools can enable rich layers of diversity, especially allowing for multiple interpretations to co-exist.


Where Are We? The State of Accessibility in Archives
Hannah Rosen, LYRASIS, Lisa Sisco, ARChivy

The purpose of this pop-up session is to assess the state of accessibility in archives and special collections from two angles. Lisa Sisco will discuss preservation and access to materials created by or for people with vision disabilities: due to the physical complexities of the materials (e.g. Braille, tactile maps, etc.), they provide unique preservation and conservation challenges, and this contributes to acquisition decisions and opinions surrounding the preservation of these tactile formats.  Hannah Rosen will summarize the results of a 2019 LYRASIS survey which asked respondents to discuss their policies for making online materials accessible for those with disabilities. By looking at these two symbiotic areas, the presenters will highlight efforts already underway to augment access and preservation. 

The audience for this session will be any archivists or other information professionals interested in learning more about how to help both researchers with disabilities access online collections, as well as how to preserve content created by those with disabilities. The target audience would also include anyone interested in learning more about the state of accessibility within the profession. 

This session addresses inclusivity for people with disabilities by looking at the status of accessibility in archives and special collections from two angles. By exploring the preservation of materials created by or for people with vision disabilities, we are looking at the hurdles memory institutions face in providing long term access to records of historically marginalized groups. By looking at accessibility policies for online materials through the results of a LYRASIS survey, we are observing how American institutions are extending access to more researchers.

Annual Meeting referenced: 

CoSAand SAA thank the following Conference Sponsors for their support!