Committee on Public Awareness

I. Purpose

The Committee provides strategic information and advice to the SAA Council to enhance SAA’s capacity to promote the value of archives and archivists to institutions, communities, and society.  The Committee recommends to the SAA Council the public awareness priorities on which SAA should focus its attention and resources, within the context of the Society’s mission and strategic plan.  In addition, the Committee works with staff and outside counsel to develop programs that promote the value and role(s) of archivists and archives nationwide.

The Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) is distinguished from the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy (CAPP) by virtue of the audiences with which each group generally interacts and whose opinions it seeks to influence. CAPP generally is concerned with influencing legislative and regulatory (i.e., public policy) decisions of government at all levels; COPA generally is concerned with influencing opinions about the value of archivists and archives among the general public and stakeholder groups other than legislators and regulators (e.g., archives users, institutional resource allocators, etc.).  The two committees may collaborate on identification of key audiences, messages, and mediums to ensure a coordinated approach to SAA’s priorities and communications.

II. Committee Selection, Size, and Length of Term:

The Committee consists of eight members (including a chair and vice chair) who are appointed by the SAA Vice President for staggered three-year terms.  The individual who is selected by the Vice President as vice chair, typically from among the third-year members, becomes vice chair in the fourth year of service and accedes to chair in the fifth year. Individuals may be reappointed to the Committee.

III. Duties and Responsibilities

The Committee has the following duties and responsibilities:

A.  Acting proactively, the Committee: 

  • Works closely with SAA staff and, when available and appropriate, outside public relations counsel to develop work plans for enhancing public awareness of archivists and archives.
  • Prepares drafts, for Executive Committee or Council approval, of key public awareness messages, seeking input from members, component groups, and experts as appropriate.
  • Oversees development and distribution of low-cost, low-barrier tools and training for archivists to use in creating public awareness initiatives in their own local environments.
  • Seeks member, public, and media feedback to continuously increase the effectiveness of and involvement with public awareness activities, including but not limited to American Archives Month.
  • Determines and implements effective methods for tracking metrics associated with public awareness of and appreciation for archivists and archives.

B.  Acting in cooperation with other organizations and groups:

  • Brings to the Council's attention areas in which collaboration with internal groups and external organizations, including the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, regional archival associations, and others may advance the Society's public awareness interests.
  • At the request of the Council or with its approval, cooperates with such organizations in pursuing public awareness efforts that further the interests of SAA and its members.

C.  Acting in response to requests or events, the Committee:

  • Responds in a timely fashion to requests from the President (acting on behalf of the Council) or the Executive Director for background information and recommendations on matters related to public awareness issues.
  • Develops and coordinates strategies for the Council and SAA to use in responding rapidly and appropriately to public awareness opportunities.
  • Collaborates with SAA component groups to ensure that the Committee and the Council are aware of and responsive to the public awareness issues that are of concern to members. 

IV. Reporting

The Committee works closely with the President, its Council Liaison, and the Executive Director to ensure that it is responsive to the Council's needs and is working in coordination with the staff office. In certain cases, when time is of the essence, Committee communications with the President and Executive Director may be discussed and acted upon solely by the Executive Committee.

Adopted by the SAA Council:  March 17, 2014.