Kelly Wooten, Candidate for Council

Kelly Wooten

Research Services and Collection Development Librarian
As members of and leaders of SAA, we must see incorporating inclusion, creativity, and social responsibility into our work at every level as integral and essential, not as irrelevant, frivolity, or afterthought.



As the research services and collection development librarian for the Bingham Center (part of the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library), I have over fifteen years of experience in archives focused on the histories of women, gender, and sexuality. I provide research support and collaborate with faculty to engage undergraduates with primary sources. I co-lead the Rubenstein Instruction Committee, a community of practice informed by critical and feminist pedagogy. I promote collections with creative communications, exhibits, and public programs, like the dramatic reading, “Menopause Monologues.” I curate our collections of zines, artists’ books by women, and materials documenting modern feminist activism. Across these responsibilities, I am curious and enthusiastic about amplifying marginalized voices and nurturing a more inclusive environment for my colleagues and visitors.

I am chair of the SAA Diversity Committee (2020–2021; vice-chair 2019–2020), and served as chair of the Women’s Collections Roundtable (2008–2010). I have served on the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) board as president, 2018–2019; and vice president/conference chair, 2017–2018, coordinating our 2018 conference “Navigating the Web of Community: Archivists and the Ethics of Care.” I attended the 2016 Archives Leadership Institute (ALI). I was founding chair of the Duke Libraries Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DivE-In), 2016–2019. In 2018, I received the Duke University Blue Ribbon Diversity Award and the Duke Libraries Florence Blakely Award for my leadership with DivE-In.

In my published works, including the book I co-edited, Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist and Queer Activism in the 21st Century (Litwin Books, 2012), I often write about zines as a source for learning about people’s lived experiences and as a mode of expression for anyone to tell their own stories. I hold a BA in literature and women’s studies and master’s in library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



As a white woman with a variety of privileged identities (such as being cisgender, securely employed and financially stable, without disabilities), I am particularly interested in dismantling the white supremacy that historically and presently benefits me and others like me in the profession, at the expense of others.

I use these definitions of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI):

  • Diversity means actively including members of varying backgrounds and identities (such as culture, race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, language, abilities/disabilities, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or geographic origin) in your community and workplace, and valuing different lived experiences and perspectives.
  • Equity means creating and supporting systems and behaviors that promote justice, and acknowledging that fairness does not necessarily call for identical treatment when you are repairing harm.
  • Inclusion means working to create an environment of equal access, belonging, respect, and opportunity through meaningful actions.

As co-chair of the Duke Libraries Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council (DivE-In), I worked with colleagues to build a more inclusive environment. During 2018, we focused on accessibility for a roadmap to develop a more welcoming library for people with varying needs and identities. By adopting a broad definition of accessibility and encouraging each department to determine the most appropriate way for their staff to engage in the work, we developed a distributed model for creating positive change and highlighting work already in progress. In this role, I coordinated with Duke’s LGBTQ center to provide library staff with training to enhance sensitivity around queer and trans issues.

I base my approach to DEI work in a feminist ethics of care, which values the feelings, experiences, and knowledge of others. For example, I worked with Rubenstein Library instruction librarians to develop our code of ethics for teaching, which acknowledges that archival materials have the potential to be upsetting and may include racist or oppressive language, and encourages breaks and self-care when looking at challenging materials.

With the SAA Diversity Committee, we planned listening sessions in 2020 to develop priorities and actions in support of the SAA Council Statement on Black Lives and Archives. DEI work is needed across all realms of practice, from metadata-creation, collection-building, recruitment, compensation, to who takes the minutes for meetings. Bold visions are essential, but require transparent implementation and accountability across SAA.



SAA has the following core organizational values: 

  • Being committed to advancing the public standing of archivists;
  • Ensuring the diversity of its membership and leaders, the profession, and the archival record;
  • Fostering an open and inclusive culture of creativity, collaboration, and experimentation across the association;
  • Providing excellent member service; and
  • Ensuring transparency, accountability, integrity, professionalism, and social responsibility in conducting its activities.

Select two of the core organizational values and describe how you will work with SAA groups and members to move them forward.


The two organizational values I will address resonate with my work in my professional career and with SAA: “Fostering an open and inclusive culture of creativity, collaboration, and experimentation” and “Ensuring transparency, accountability, integrity, professionalism, and social responsibility.”  The Black Lives and Archives listening sessions exemplify both of these principles and illustrate the kind of leadership I would bring to the SAA Council.

At the request of the Council, the SAA Diversity Committee facilitated two programs (one open to the public and one for Annual Meeting registrants) to discuss the Black Lives and Archives statement issued by the Council on June 2, 2020. I was one of the primary coordinators, and drew on my experience working with the Rubenstein Library on dismantling white supremacy in archives. Many libraries, archives, and related organizations have issued similar statements in response to anti-Black violence in the US, but these words must be supported by meaningful actions, sustained work, and significant changes that demonstrate ongoing commitment by leadership to dismantling white supremacy. 

We held these discussions to generate ideas (from small and practical to huge and revolutionary) about creating change, reallocating resources, and ensuring accountability to reduce harm to Black and brown people in our society and in our profession. These programs were creative, collaborative, and experimental, taking advantage of the online platform to break into small group conversations with volunteer facilitators who invited participants to imagine the actions and resources needed to activate and embody the statement, and to imagine what accountability would look like. This format was perhaps uncomfortable to some attendees who wanted to listen and learn, not necessarily to participate actively, but overall these sessions were generative and full of big ideas. Whenever I have the platform to reach a large audience like that, I look for ways to interact with each other beyond the traditional speaker/panel and audience relationship. I look forward to exploring the ways that online technologies can support this kind of interpersonal engagement in our programs. 

The value of accountability and transparency was also built into the program planning—the notes from each session were available online as they were created and will be shared in a report format once the Diversity Committee completes our summary. By organizing the program in direct correlation to the BL&A statement, we intended for recommendations to be clearly tied to moving words into actions. As members of and leaders of SAA, we must see incorporating inclusion, creativity, and social responsibility into our work at every level as integral and essential, not as irrelevant, frivolity, or afterthought.


Slate of Candidates

The Nominating Committee has slated the following SAA members as candidates for office in the 2021 election:

Vice President/President-Elect



Nominating Committee