James Roth, Candidate for Council

Professional Experience: Deputy Director, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, 2008–present. Adjunct Faculty, Graduate School of Information Library Science, Simmons College, 2007–present. Senior Archivist/Head of Processing and Digitization, John F. Kennedy Library, 2004–2007. Curator, Ernest Hemingway Collection, John F. Kennedy Library, 2001–2004.

Education: MLS, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001. MA, History, University of New Hampshire, 1999. BA, History, Johnson State College, 1995.

Professional Activities: Society of American Archivists: Membership Committee, Key Contact Subcommittee, Massachusetts, 2003–2005; Colonial Dames Scholarship Subcommittee, 2003–2005, Chair, 2005–2006; Membership Committee, District 1 Representative, 2005–2007, Vice Chair/Chair–Elect, 2007–2008, Chair, 2008–2009; Mentoring Program Subcommittee, Co–Chair, 2009–2010; Dues Increase Communications Plan Task Force, 2007; Description Section, Vice Chair-Elect, 2007–2008, Chair, 2008–2009; Coker Award Subcommittee, 2008–2009; Committee on Education, 2010–2014, Vice-Chair, 2012–2013, Chair 2013–2014; Pease Award Subcommittee, 2012–2013. New England Archivists: Education Committee, 2001–2007; Local Arrangements Committee, 2009; Editor-At-Large: Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies, 2013–present; Chair, Historic District Commission, Plymouth, MA 2004–2007; Community Preservation Committee, Plymouth, MA 2004–2007; Archives Advisor, Milton Academy(Academy Archives), Milton, MA, October 2007; Participant/Advisor, "Study of Space Needs for Museum Collections and Archives,” Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site, December 10, 2010; Radcliffe Workshop Planning Group: “Technology and Archival Processing,” Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 2010–2011.

Publications: "Serving Up EAD: An Exploratory Study on the Deployment and Utilization of Encoded Archival Description Finding Aids," The American Archivist, Vol. 64, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 2001), pp. 214–237. "News From the Hemingway Collection," The Hemingway Review, Vol. 21–23, (2001–2004). “Reclaiming Pieces of Camelot” Prologue, Summer Vol. 38, No. 2, 2006.

Workshops taught: “Understanding Archives: An Introduction to Principles and Practices,” SAA workshop taught 5 times, 2007–2013. “Caring for Historical Records,” NEA workshop taught 4 times (2006–2011). “Primarily Teaching: Original Documents and Classroom Strategies,” National Archives Northeast Region–Boston, 2007. “From the Attic to the Box: Basic Arrangement and Description,” New Hampshire Archives Group, 2005.




Question posed by Nominating Committee: What are your priorities for advancing SAA’s Strategic Plan? How do we create an organization that nimbly embraces change, including changing member needs, yet is stable enough to advance the profession? 

My priorities for advancing the Strategic Plan focus on my commitment to lifelong learning for members of our profession. As stated in the Strategic Plan, the four goals are not prioritized, and so we must concentrate on simultaneously achieving these goals in order to be successful fulfilling the mission and plan.

  • We must provide strong leadership, with a consistent and focused message. Through education and professional development, archivists can understand issues such as citizen’s rights to open government information, fair copyright laws, and balance between privacy of information and the public’s right to know.
  • We must provide professional growth to expose members to new trends, technologies and best practices in the field. We will continue to seek new learning opportunities such as webinars and online publications. We must work toward combining the Society’s resources, for example looking for opportunities to combine publications and educational offerings to reduce costs and provide focus for our members. We must respond positively and take chances on new types of learning experiences such as CURATECamps and Hack-a-thons.
  • By listening and participating in conversations, meetings and conferences with colleagues, we can identify and begin to develop new standards, guidelines, and best practices. Using our strong communication networks, we can help bring this knowledge to others in the profession and encourage the adoption of these initiatives.
  • We must always remember that as Council, we work for the membership. If we do not encourage members to continue to seek knowledge, to participate in the national conversation about archives and information, or to communicate and share our knowledge with as wide an audience as possible, then we have failed our duty.

By listening to members, encouraging their participation, and developing their knowledge base and leadership skills, we will create a nimble organization that provides flexibility and continuity. We must be aware of how the Society operates today, taking into consideration all of the decisions and strategies SAA has made in the past, and reassess those ideas to see if they are still viable for the future. We have to remain open to new ideas, yet balance those with existing needs, and never be afraid to reexamine policies, strategies and goals that no longer work for the Society.