John Slate, Candidate for Council

Professional Experience: City Archivist, City of Dallas, Texas, 2000–present. Project Archivist, Texas African American Photography Archive (Dallas, Texas), 1997–1999. Curator of Collections and Librarian, Hertzberg Museum/San Antonio Public Library, 1995–1996. Library Assistant/Assistant to Curator of Photograph Collections and paraprofessional positions, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin, 1982–1995.

Education: MLIS, University of Texas School of Information, 1994. BS, Radio-TV-Film, University of Texas at Austin, 1986. Archives Leadership Institute, 2011.

Professional Activities: Society of American Archivists: Member since 1989; Government Records Section, Chair, 2007–2008; Visual Materials Section, Chair, 1999–2000;  Local Government Records Round Table, Chair, 2004–2005; Visual Materials Section, Bibliography Committee, 2002–2010; Government Records Section, Steering Committee Member, 2003–2004; Membership Committee, Intern, 1992–1993; Mentoring Program, 1996–1999;  SAA University of Texas at Austin Student Chapter, Founding President and Charter Member, 1993–1994. Society of Southwest Archivists: Member since 1989. President, 2010–2011. Nominating Committee, Co-chair, 2005–2006; Executive Board Member, 2002–2004;  Professional and Public Affairs Committee, Chair, 1999–2001; Membership Committee, 1993–1994; Publications Committee, 1993–1994. Academy of Certified Archivists: Certified in 1998. Other Activities: Member, Texas Historical Records Advisory Board, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, 2005–Present.

Publications and Awards: Dealey Plaza (co-author, Arcadia Publishing, 2013); John F. Kennedy Sites in Dallas-Fort Worth (co-author, Arcadia Publishing, 2013); Lost Austin (Arcadia Publishing, 2011); Historic Dallas Parks (Arcadia Publishing, 2010). Case study contributor in The Lone Arranger: Succeeding in a Small Repository by Christina J. Zamon (Society of American Archivists, 2012); Over 20 reviews and articles in scholarly periodicals, refereed journals, and popular media.

Awards: Award of Excellence in Preserving History, Texas Historical Commission, 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?

Advocating for the value of archivists and archives is my primary interest in the Strategic Plan, professionally and personally. In an era of declining budgets, the value of archives and archivists is often in competition for funding with programs and services that may have greater immediate value. Selling management on the long-term value of archives is vital to our and their existence. I believe we should expend more energy in illustrating our value with concrete examples—savings in time and money, organizational transparency, and, where appropriate, our benefit to the Humanities.            

Other goals in the Strategic Plan are equally important and require our attention. I believe we should enhance professional growth and prepare archivists for the future by reevaluating our existing literature and educational resources, identifying areas lacking, and filling those gaps. This process must be revisited frequently, as some best practices and research can become outdated quickly. We can elevate our profession by taking some valuable lessons from allied groups, such as the records management field. Our visibility as a profession—and the stability of our very jobs—is directly tied to our ability to lead in the information industry.

Creating and renewing an organization that embraces change requires having open ears and eyes. While we naturally rely upon past experiences, traditions, and practices, it is equally important to listen—and listen well—to what members want out of SAA, and what will make it engaging for them. As archives are redefined by the changing nature of information exchange and the archival record, it behooves SAA to keep aware of trends and evolving practices and how they affect our members. It will never be easy to keep North America's oldest and largest national archival professional association in step with every new development, but fresh thought and attention to innovations can lead the way.