Chela Scott Weber, Candidate for Council

Chela Scott Weber

Senior Program Officer
Creating the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility was an important step in envisioning how a trustworthy organization behaves. Acting on the priorities detailed in the plan will be key to proving that SAA is an organization with the will and capacity to enact change.



As a senior program officer for the OCLC Research Library Partnership (RLP), my job is to learn about how archivists are best serving their collections and their communities and share this insight widely. I do this through creating opportunities for learning and collaboration within the RLP, and by engaging in research and publication projects serving the broader library and archives field. My recent work addresses two complex challenges in archives: balancing collecting ambitions and stewardship capacity, and the possibilities of a national aggregation of archival description to improve access to all archives, including those without dedicated technical resources. My role allows me to interact with archivists spanning entry-level to leadership positions, with responsibilities across all archival functions, both within and beyond the RLP membership.

Previously, I held leadership roles at the California Historical Society, New York University Libraries, Brooklyn Historical Society, and Microsoft Archives, where I led teams to build equitable access to hidden collections, create sustainable programs, and engage the challenges of stewarding modern records. My first jobs in the field were term positions at The Henry Ford and the New York Transit Museum, where I tried to make a positive impact on the repository without the safeguards of continuing employment.

My research interests grow out of the practical challenges I have encountered in my work, especially related to addressing legacy practice that has created inequitable and poor access to collections. Much of my writing addresses the connection between collection development and collection stewardship and the impacts their imbalance can have on larger archival programs.

I have been an SAA member since 2005. I attended my first conference on a Donald Peterson Student Travel Award scholarship. I served on the working group that created the Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning and later the Technical Subcommittee on Guidelines for Reappraisal and Deaccessioning, and as a peer reviewer for both the Publications Board and American Archivist. In 2019, I was honored by the SAA Council with a resolution for my work on the Research and Learning Agenda for Archives, Special, and Distinctive Collections in Research Libraries.



Each candidate prepared a diversity statement according to SAA guidelines.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion work is important to the archival profession because archives are charged with collecting broad, meaningful documentation of human experience. It will be impossible to truly meet that charge until the profession better resembles the communities it seeks to document. The barriers to participating in our profession are high and the compensation is low, which pushes out talented people with fewer resources. Women, people of color, and other minoritized groups have had fewer opportunities for advancement, lower pay, and less workplace respect, leading many who enter the profession to eventually leave. The profession is poorer for these losses, and the historical record less representative in a way that perpetuates existing structures of power.

I approach diversity, equity, and inclusion work as a practice that requires ongoing effort and focus, that you learn from and about, that evolves over time, and in which both reflection and action are necessary. As a white, cisgender woman, I benefit significantly from the structures of white supremacy. I feel a responsibility to move out of the comfort of my privilege to help dismantle the systems that benefit me and people like me with great cost to others.

In my work, I am often called to convene group discussions. One focus of my diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) practice has been building skills in participatory, anti-oppressive facilitation techniques so that I can better facilitate equitable discussions and create safe, inclusive spaces for people to navigate difficult conversations. I have applied these skills in DEI-focused settings including co-facilitating an anti-racist reading group within OCLC Research, and serving as a facilitator in the OCLC’s recent Reimagining Descriptive Workflows project convening.

Through these efforts, I have come to better understand my own implicit biases. I have also realized that being accustomed to comfort has too often led to inaction; I have let fear of making a mistake, doing harm, or looking ignorant keep me from stepping beyond my comfort zone in service of necessary change. While I still want deeply to keep from doing harm, I am getting better at acknowledging that I will make mistakes, gratefully accepting feedback when it is given and trying to adjust my actions accordingly, and generally sitting with my discomfort. Through facilitation work, I’ve also developed stronger skills in attentive, active listening so that I may better understand and advocate for others. I would bring the toolkit I have been building with me to listen, learn, and advocate within SAA.



The tragic and thought-provoking events of the past year and a half have indelibly impacted the world and our profession, and carved out a space for projects and initiatives that challenge and amplify the historical record, and foreground the urgency of equity and inclusion. How would you bring this growing investment in social justice to bear as a Council member and support diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within SAA, the Council, and among the general membership? How would you help promote and implement the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility?


This is a challenging and important moment in SAA’s growth and development. Missteps by different representatives of and bodies within SAA have led to a lack of trust in the organization for many members—current, past, and potential. SAA leadership must prioritize repairing that trust and guiding the organization to be worthy of trust from the diverse profession it seeks to represent. Creating the SAA Work Plan on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility was an important step in envisioning how a trustworthy organization behaves. Acting on the priorities detailed in the plan will be key to proving that SAA is an organization with the will and capacity to enact change, with the best interests of its broad membership at its center.

As an administrator of archival programs, I have approached leadership as a values-centered practice. I understand the tools of administration—budgets, bylaws, agendas, and workplans—to be moral documents. They represent our values by delineating where we are willing to invest our finite time, energy, and money. I also understand that a complicated set of factors must be weighed in any decision that a complex organization like SAA makes, and that our values must be intentionally brought into that factor set. Throughout my career, I have built shared understanding of values and vision within the teams I’ve managed, and coalitions with shared purpose across teams of collaborators. I would bring these skills to a role on the SAA Council, working to ensure that we are continually centering the values and priorities that have been outlined in the Work Plan and other SAA strategy and ethics statements.

A key lesson I’ve taken from the experience described in my diversity statement is that diversity, equity, and inclusion work, and meaningful change, must happen at the speed of trust. This is an idea put forth by adrienne maree brown in Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds, that change cannot happen without trust, and taking the time to build trust relationships develops connection and, in turn, resiliency. I would bring this learning to a role on SAA Council, helping to think carefully about what building trust relationships looks like for an organization like SAA, and to slow work down to center building trust and connection in hopes of building a more inclusive, equitable, and resilient SAA.

Participation in SAA helped me build a network of colleagues and collaborators whom I trust and value deeply. I would like to be a part of the SAA Council to help investigate how our organization can better serve all our members, and to be a part of doing the hard work of building structural change so that needs are better met and more members can benefit from each other.



Slate of Candidates

The Nominating Committee has slated the following SAA members as candidates for office in the 2022 election:

Vice President/President-Elect


Nominating Committee