2016 Election: Candidate Statements & Bios

Cliff Hight, Candidate for VP/Chair-Elect

Biographical statement:

Cliff Hight has been the university archivist at Kansas State University Libraries since 2011. His primary stewardship is the preservation and accessibility of historically-significant university records in all formats. He holds an MSIS in archives and records administration and an MA in history from the University at Albany, State University of New York.  He was the archivist/curator at the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center in Cañon City, Colorado, from 2006 to 2011, and was a project archivist and graduate associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, from 2005 to 2006.

 Cliff has been a member of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) since 2005, and currently serves on the SAA Acquisitions and Appraisal Section Steering Committee and the SAA Dictionary Working Group. He also has been a member of the Kansas State Historical Records Advisory Board since 2013. Previously, he participated in the Archives Leadership Institute in 2014, was on the SAA Web Archiving Roundtable Best Practices/Toolbox Subcommittee from 2013 to 2015, and was secretary for the Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists (SRMA) from 2008 to 2010.


Why do you think appraisal, and by extension the work of this section, is important?  

Appraisal is a fundamental archival activity, and if we do it well we will select the appropriate records and documentation that reflect our society. Effective appraisal, along with intelligent reappraisal and deaccessioning, can reduce the existing backlogs that many of us face and help reduce the amount of unwanted materials that enter archival holdings.

The Acquisitions and Appraisal Section exists as a resource for SAA members seeking insights, best practices, and professional wisdom on these topics. One effort I have been involved in while on the Steering Committee is to expand the available information the section provides by creating a Best Practices Subcommittee. This group currently is updating the Abandoned Property Project (http://www2.archivists.org/groups/acquisitions-appraisal-section/abandon...) and seeking to develop additional resources related to acquisitions and appraisal. In this way, the section can assist in empowering archivists to make professionally sound decisions when selecting and acquiring archival resources.

Right now, the main focus of this group is on outreach through the blog, Third Thursdays, Twitter/Facebook, and the annual meeting. Based on your interests and/or experiences, how would you plan to contribute, or what additional areas or projects do you think would be worth consideration by the committee and membership?

During my time on the steering committee, I have had the pleasure of working with other committee members who are engaged in outreach and have taken ideas and made them successful endeavors. Examples include those mentioned in the question. If elected vice chair/chair-elect, my role would be to support the steering committee members who are leading these activities, to contribute to the outreach efforts, and to explore other avenues of outreach that effectively meet the needs of the membership.

This section should be a leading source for archivists to discuss topics related to acquisitions and appraisal, and the vice chair/chair-elect helps facilitate these discussions and plans a relevant program during the annual Section meeting. Further, the section should help archivists and others learn more about acquisitions and appraisal. In addition to ongoing outreach activities, continuing to support the work of the Best Practices Subcommittee would assist in meeting this goal. The outreach work and best practices resources will provide archivists with greater opportunities to expand their knowledge of this significant facet of the archival endeavor. If elected vice chair/chair-elect, I would continue encouraging these aims.

Blake Graham, candidate for Steering Committee member

Biographical Statement:  

Blake Graham is one of three archivists at Douglas County Public Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. Blake has worked in this position for three years, and focuses on advocacy, digital collections, and improving the usability of special collections for all communities of users. He holds an MLIS in information technology from the University Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and an MA in History from the University of South Alabama. From 2010 to 2013, Blake arranged and described the Doy Leale McCall Collection at the University of South Alabama, recognized as one of the largest and most-significant archival collections in the South.

Blake is an active member of SAA and Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists (SRMA), and welcomes any opportunity to offer a lively presentation about collections management or digital preservation.


Why do you think appraisal, and by extension the work of this section, is important?

Appraisal is the bedrock of archival work. Determining what materials merit ingest and permanent retention in a repository represents a measure of success in pursuing and fulfilling the mission established by that repository. While appraisal-related conversations are not always difficult, the ones that are often require contextual information about the repository as a whole, as well as a working knowledge of current issues mentioned in archival literature. This can be a stressful situation if you’re passionate about your work, particularly if you’re working in an understaffed or small department.

This is where I see the functional purpose of Acquisitions and Appraisal (A&A) Section coming into play. I believe the A&A Section serves as a staple for connecting issues and interests with a range of curators and archivists. By keeping relevant discussions open and fluid, the Section can serve as a source of creativity, support, or guidance for those who are dealing with difficult decisions at the local level. I, for one, am one of these professionals monitoring the discussion list and continually learning about what others are doing in the field. The following paragraph is an example of the nature of discussions I have weathered with the help of A&A:

It is the responsibility of the archivists at the Douglas County History Research Center (DCHRC) to “collect, preserve, and provide access to the history of Douglas County.” In doing so, DCHRC staff believe collecting the intellectual output of the county falls within this mission statement. One of the challenges that we face on a weekly basis includes drawing a collections-development boundary around this “intellectual output.” For example, the local authors collection includes published works of county and non-county related fiction and non-fiction, or any other material produced by a resident – hence, intellectual output of the county. An example of this type of material includes the Christie Golden Collection – a collection of manuscripts, galleys, and emails written and edited supporting the publication of novels by Christie Golden. Another example includes a book on the development of Douglas County water infrastructure over the last 25 years. Collecting these works seems fairly straightforward, right? What about a collection of poems written by high school students in English Literature classes dating back to the 1960s; is this considered to be recorded intellectual output? Or, similarly, a scrapbook of fourth-graders’ drawings from a 2013 history-focused curriculum? The definitive nature or characteristics of “intellectual output” become more difficult as increasing varieties of materials arrive at our front door – a complexity that is not unfamiliar to many archivists elsewhere.

By keeping abreast with the A&A blog, Assigning Value, I was able to help guide and advise my colleagues in re-appraising our local-author collection.

I’m grateful that the A&A has such resources available to offer emerging and seasoned professionals alike. Because I understand the value of this Section within small, local repositories, I would like to play an active role in the Section by serving on the Steering Committee and contributing to its continuing progress.

Right now, the main focus of this group is on outreach through the blog, Third Thursdays, Twitter/Facebook, and the annual meeting. Based on your interests and/or experiences, how would you plan to contribute, or what additional areas or projects do you think would be worth consideration by the committee and membership.

As shown above, many of the resources managed by the committee are incredibly helpful in their current form. If elected, I would like to focus on fine-tuning these resources so that they can serve as a seedbed for broader discussions surfacing in other communication channels. In other words, I would like to explore how to splice discussions and news that is pertinent to the A&A Section in order to improve the value of the Section to its members.

I have followed Assigning Value for some time now. There have been several creative initiatives that I commend. The Third Thursdays conversations have been the most helpful information for my day-to-day work, particularly for born-digital acquisitions. For my contribution to A&A, I would like to help in two areas: (1) creating and distributing institution-specific invitations to participate in Third Thursday conversations, and (2) creating a calendar of events and news updates. The former would include invitations to specific institutions or departments to engage with questions and topics about acquisitions. However, unlike the Third Thursdays conversations or the interviews listed, those involved in the conversation would be encouraged to include comment or a follow-up thought to the previous write-up – thus, creating a conversation that building on each other in some fashion. As a result, A&A can be proactive in ensuring that a wide variety of voices from different types of institutions are engaging in issues and topics related to acquisitions and appraisal. The latter, on the other hand, would include a calendar of educational opportunities (e.g., webinars, training sessions, conferences, etc.), as well as a newsfeed of recent articles, books, or general comments about acquisitions-related happenings across the country.

For years, I have studied and developed skills in digital preservation activities and tools, so I would like to use this knowledge to contribute to born-digital acquisitions. A discussion on the merits of and expertise needed for born-digital acquisitions and disk imaging would be a great topic for me to begin exploring on the blog. In addition to contributing to the blog, I would also like to bring questions and issues raised in other Google groups to A&A social media pages and blogs. Although it’s never labeled as “acquisitions,” there are many conversations relevant to the A&A Section in Google groups, such as those formed for collections management and digital preservation tools, and other conference-related groups (used for informative purposes, and conference notetaking spaces). Sharing these interactions would be beneficial for those who may not be tapped into those communication channels. All it takes is someone willing to monitor and connect the conversations so that ideas can be exchanged.

While these are merely ideas for my planned contribution, I would be more than willing to fill other areas of need on the committee. Areas such as planning and coordinating for meet-ups at SAA are on-going, and I would be thrilled to help here as well. I look forward to the committee’s progress, and contributing to that progress, over the next few years.

Mat Darby

Biographical statement: 


M.L.I.S., University of Texas at Austin (2000)

B.A., English, University of Delaware (1997)

Professional Experience:

Head of Arrangement & Description, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia (2013-present); Archivist for the ExxonMobil Historical Collection, Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin (2004-2013); Processing and AV Archivist, Russell Library, UGA (2001-2004); Archivist, Lower Colorado River Authority, Austin, Texas, 2001; Project Archivist, Hardy-Heck-Moore, Inc., Austin, Texas, 2000-2001

Professional Activities:

SAA: member since 1998; member, Acquisitions & Appraisal Section Steering Committee (2014-2016); member, 2009 Annual Meeting Host Committee; member, 2008 Annual Meeting Program Committee; Chair and Vice/Chair of the Manuscript Repositories Section Steering Committee (2007-2009) and member (2005-2007)

Academy of Certified Archivists: member since 2005; Chair and member of Nominating Committee (2011-213)

Association of Centers for the Study of Congress: member since 2013

Society of Georgia Archivists: member since 2013; Chair, Education Committee (2016); Local Arrangements Committee (2014)

Society of Southwest Archivists: member since 1998; member, Finance Committee (2014-2016); Treasurer (2012-2013); Executive Board (2008-2012)

Georgia Disability History Alliance: member and co-organizer of annual symposium (2013-present)


Why do you think appraisal, and by extension the work of this section, is important?  

Appraisal impacts much of what we do as archivists. In our initial negotiations with donors, appraisal, in tandem with collecting policies, allows us to focus our conversations on the core of what the collection in question really is and why it makes sense for our institution. When it is possible to conduct initial appraisal in the field, we save time, space, staff and other resources that would have been expended later. During processing, we may refine or adjust our appraisal decisions further, resulting in more concise collections, knowing that collections bloated with extraneous records can impact negatively the researcher experience and obscure materials with significant research value. If you consider the wealth of digital content created today, and the knowledge and resources needed to adequately manage these records, appraisal takes on even greater significance. Strategies among archivists and institutions may differ, but ultimately appraisal is an opportunity for us to think holistically, bringing to bear what we know about existing collections, research trends, and available resources, to better manage our repositories.

The work of the Acquisitions & Appraisal section is important because many archivists, from new professionals to those later in their careers, are eager to learn about, discuss, or share experiences related to this core archival function. The A&A section is uniquely positioned to be a conduit for information sharing, collaboration and dialogue. By bringing to the fore important appraisal-related topics through section projects (such as the Best Practices Subcommittee), insightful and interactive presentations at the annual section meeting, and outreach initiatives, we are able to reach a wider swathe of members with an interest in these issues.

Right now, the main focus of this group is on outreach through the blog, Third Thursdays, Twitter/Facebook, and the annual meeting. Based on your interests and/or experiences, how would you plan to contribute, or what additional areas or projects do you think would be worth consideration by the committee and membership.

Having served on the steering committee for the past two years, I have been involved with some of the steering committee’s initiatives, particularly social media. In that time, the section launched a blog, established a Twitter presence, and initiated Third Thursday discussions of appraisal and acquisitions issues. As a result, the section has reached a larger number of members and other archivists. I would like us to proceed in this vein, engaging more archivists and providing additional opportunities for members to share and discuss their ideas. Twitter chats, like the one we recently did with the SNAP roundtable, can be an effective, immediate way to connect with each other.  The interviews with archivists that have appeared on the section blog, Assigning Value, have highlighted our colleagues and their work. If I were to continue as a member of the steering committee, I would like to see us develop other means for sharing each other’s projects and ideas, such as cases studies and articles.

Lily Cristina Troia

Biographical statement: 

Lily Cristina Troia is the new Digital Services Librarian at the College of William and Mary, working with research data management and open access, in efforts to expand preservation of and access to scholarship produced by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Lily completed her MLIS in May 2016 from Simmons College with an emphasis on cultural heritage informatics, archives, and digital stewardship, and a research focus on copyright and open access. Prior to graduating Lily worked at HarvardX, the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, and the Yale Divinity Library Archives.

Lily has been the Social Media Intern for the Acquisitions and Appraisal Section since 2015, and is also the Student Blog Editor for the SNAP Roundtable, serving on the group's Steering Committee. Lily is the chair of the Student Program Committee for Archives * Records 2016 in Atlanta this August, and also leads a curation team for a stream of panels to be featured at the annual meeting of the Association of Moving Image Archivists this November in Pittsburgh.


Why do you think appraisal, and by extension the work of this section, is important?  

Appraisal has been fundamental to archivists' work throughout the profession's history, necessitating we acknowledge the monumental power inherent to archival decisions, and its impact on the historical record. The digital age has amplified the role of archival appraisal, with content produced at alarming rates, and procedures for long term preservation of digital materials still in their infancy. It is vital that SAA leadership address these realities of contemporary archival work, and the Acquisitions and Appraisal Section should lead the charge in promoting a forum for learning, collaboration, and support that reflects the needs of our profession. As a Section Committee member I would work diligently to provide our membership with access to support and training in burgeoning areas like data curation, AV archives, and web-archiving, highlighting the ways in which appraisal activity intersects all archival work. It is imperative that traditional archives form allegiances with those in tangential fields; as a new professional in research data management I hope to promote such partnerships, and advocate for archival principles in my work with researchers and the community.

Right now, the main focus of this group is on outreach through the blog, Third Thursdays, Twitter/Facebook, and the annual meeting. Based on your interests and/or experiences, how would you plan to contribute, or what additional areas or projects do you think would be worth consideration by the committee and membership.

Archival work does not exist in a vacuum. The Acquisition and Appraisal Section serves the membership of SAA best when it joins forces with other affinity groups, archivists, scholars, students, researchers, and users, beyond the walls of our own Section roster and respective institutions. As social media intern for the Section for the past two years I have worked to increase outreach activity via the blog, Twitter, and Facebook, making efforts to connect our members with the broadest spectrum of stakeholders possible. I launched the Section Twitter account, now with over 1000 followers, engaging with the archival community at conferences, via resource sharing, promoting Third Thursdays, and through longer-form content produced for the blog. I also initiated cooperative efforts like a joint chat with the SNAP Roundtable, affording students and new professionals an opportunity to discuss challenges related to acquisitions and appraisal, and to garner valuable career advice. If elected to the Steering Committee I would continue with these efforts and encourage new collaborations aimed at enhancing services and increasing information access for our members, and by advocating for issues of relevance to the Section. Further, I would focus specific energy on insuring communications and section activity includes diverse voices and perspectives, and fosters a professional community that values inclusion, and recognizes the continued impact of colonialist policies and practices and our role in eradicating the same.

Julie I. May

Biographical statement:

I am the Managing Director of Library & Archives at Brooklyn Historical Society and responsible for accessioning and description of archival collections. Since joining Brooklyn Historical Society in 2006, I have been involved in several grant-funded archival projects: the CLIR Hidden Collections Survey project that resulted in over 1,400 archival collections receiving collection or series-level description using Archivists’ Toolkit; and IMLS-funded Cultural Heritage Archives Research & Technology (CHART) project to digitize historic Brooklyn images and deploy them to a shared website with Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Public Library (www.brooklynvisualheritage.org).  I participate in local and national archival organizations, speaking on behalf of BHS’s archives with special attention toward intellectual property in cultural heritage institutions.  I also supervise staff, including four full-time professionals, one part-time Cataloger, and one Acquisitions Intern. I hold a Masters in Information and Library Science with a Certificate in Archives Management from Pratt Institute, a Bachelors in English from Indiana University, and an Associate’s Degree in Applied Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology.  I am currently pursuing the Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) certificate.


Why do you think appraisal, and by extension the work of this section, is important?  

With the increase in born-digital records coming our way, I think this Section can continue to be very useful to others in applying the same theories of appraisal to a different set of materials and help to establish guidelines for doing so consistently and efficiently. I think this section can also offer language and examples that provide assistance in advocating for responsible practices given the large quantity of materials the 20th and 21st centuries are offering to repositories.

Right now, the main focus of this group is on outreach through the blog, Third Thursdays, Twitter/Facebook, and the annual meeting. Based on your interests and/or experiences, how would you plan to contribute, or what additional areas or projects do you think would be worth consideration by the committee and membership.

I am a new member to the Committee and will continue to get a feel for the Section’s interests, but would like to incorporate my knowledge of intellectual property into the appraisal and acquisition conversation and how that establishes trust with donors, especially living artists, and builds the collections in transparent and favorable ways.  I have created policies and procedures to facilitate a large amount of incoming acquisitions into my institution and would be interested in sharing those through a central resource page.  This past year, I implemented an Accessioning as Processing approach to Acquisitions with the help of an intern and think that experience could be shared with a larger community also.