Lydia Tang, Candidate for Council

Lydia Tang

Outreach and Engagement Coordinator
I’d like to challenge SAA to become a more radical organization in supporting its membership by acknowledging the cost of labor, supporting archival workers in the continued spirit of the Archival Workers Emergency Fund, and exploring a membership dues model that is affordable and inclusive.



Dr. Lydia Tang is currently an outreach and engagement coordinator for LYRASIS. Previously, she held archivist positions at Michigan State University, the Library of Congress, and numerous graduate positions at the University of Illinois, where she received her MLIS and Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Passionate about accessibility and disability representation in archives, she served on the Task Force to Revise the Best Practices on Accessible Archives for People with Disabilities and spearheaded founding the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) Accessibility and Disability Section. She is the 2020 recipient of SAA’s Mark A. Greene Emerging Leader Award and was recognized in three SAA Council resolutions for co-founding the Archival Workers Emergency Fund, spearheading the Accessibility and Disability Section’s “Archivists at Home” document, and writing the Guidelines for Accessible Archives for People with Disabilities. She has also been very active in the ArchivesSpace user community, leading the Staff Interface Enhancement Working Group, Development Prioritization subteam, Usability subteam, and chairing the Users Advisory Council.

Overview of SAA service:

Accessibility and Disability Section

  • Founding chair, August 2019–August 2020
  • Immediate past chair, August 2020–July 2021
  • Steering Committee member, August 2021–present

Archival Workers Emergency Fund

  • Co-founder, Organizing Committee, March 2020
  • Review Committee member, April 2020December 2021

Collection Management Tools Section

  • Steering committee member, August 2017August 2019

Independent Archivists Section

  • Steering committee member, August 2021–present

Membership Committee

  • Member, August 2019 - Present
  • Mentoring Subcommittee co-chair, August 2019–present 

Privacy and Confidentiality Section

  • Immediate past chair, August 2020–July 2021
  • Chair, August 2019August 2020
  • Vice-chair, August 2018August 2019
  • Steering committee member, August 2017August 2018

SAA Task Force to Revise Best Practices on Accessibility

  • Task Force member, April 2018August 2019



Each candidate prepared a diversity statement according to SAA guidelines.

My definition of diversity embraces the strengths that comes from the variety of perspectives, backgrounds, and skills we all bring together. Equity is about recognizing that we all are not on level playing fields: where we currently are, where we came from, and where we are going, and striving to make sure that we can all have access and be supported, even if our needs and backgrounds are different. Inclusion is about ensuring that marginalized groups are not only welcomed but heard and empowered within a space.

I am a mixed race Asian and white neurodiverse woman. I have been very active in advocating for greater accessibility within the archival profession by co-authoring the Guidelines for Accessible Archives for People with Disabilities and by spearheading the founding of the Accessibility and Disability Section. I am so proud of what this section has become, from creating the “Archivists at Home” document early in the pandemic to building a community that uplifts and amplifies the voices of disabled archival workers.

I have co-chaired the SAA Mentoring Program for nearly three years now. We have been revising the mentoring application form to improve the ability of participants to connect with mentoring partners based upon identities or topics such as DEIA, publishing, LGBTQ+ archives, community archives, etc. We also recently concluded a mentoring cohorts pilot based upon the themes of Accessibility and Disability, BIPOC, and Students and New Professionals. The participant feedback was very positive and we look forward to hopefully scaling this project up going forward to complement the 1-to-1 mentoring model.

I have been very fortunate to be involved with several opportunities to gather feedback from the archival profession on various issues. Throughout the pandemic, the Archival Workers Emergency Fund Organizing Committee issued periodic surveys to track the impact of the pandemic on the archival profession. As an ex officio representative from the Accessibility and Disability Section, I assisted the Diversity Committee in synthesizing feedback from the Diversity Forums. I also helped the Membership Committee synthesize comments from a recent survey on membership dues. The feedback I’ve seen from these surveys has given me very clear views of profession-wide pain points and ideas for continuing to advance DEIA 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?


Diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility (DEIA) choices infuse every aspect of SAA—whether it is looking at the sustainability of sections and acknowledging widespread burnout from a devastating and extended pandemic to how funds are collected and allocated. Our choices are testament to what we value.

To be clear, SAA is not “the archival profession” because some archival workers can’t or won’t join for financial or philosophical reasons, and I’d like to focus on why that is and explore how wide that gap is. SAA benefits from its position representing the archival profession on a national level. It is member-driven—as in, the majority of its work is determined and fueled by volunteer labor and we do this for our colleagues and the broader profession—but it is also an organization that is empowered by member dues and donations to be proactive as well. I’d like to challenge SAA to become a more radical organization in supporting its membership by acknowledging the cost of labor, supporting archival workers in the continued spirit of the Archival Workers Emergency Fund, and exploring a membership dues model that is affordable and inclusive.

While the current member dues model acknowledge inequities in employment income, it doesn’t reflect the complexities of debt, inflation, and employers that don’t support and subsidize professional service in a faculty-like service and scholarship model. This, in turn, pinches individuals financially and personally for service capacity. As the Archival Workers Emergency Fund Organizing Committee learned in our fundraising, uniting to consistently give a smaller amount of money is a more resilient funding model and a lighter lift for individuals. The same goes for service. If the barrier to volunteer is gate-kept by too high of an entry fee, our community loses out on the voice, vision, and contributions of potential collaborators.

The Work Plan on DEIA will be a great starting point of articulating action items. Assigning these action items and keeping a commitment not only to “checking the box” but to embracing the spirit of the these actions is what can lead to lasting cultural and structural change.

I would like to increase the transparency in the application and appointment process, particularly for the SAA Foundation, which has a separate application process and a traditional expectation of financial investment associated with the role (like the SAA Council).

For a number of years, the SAA Council has been reviewing the vitality of its sections. While honoring the unique culture and histories of each of the sections, I am interested in finding a more nimble model to avoid annual struggles to fill election slates and build temporary or lasting communities of professional focus that do not currently exist.

I would like SAA to creatively approach future conference options in coordination with allied organizations in the spirit of Eira Tansey’s essay, “We Have to Stop Meeting Like This.” To combat carbon emissions and maximize increasingly dwindling professional development funds for individuals, the truth is that we are operating in a changed world that demands adaptation to survive and an opportunity for genuine transformation.



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