Business Archives Workshop 2012

Business Archives Workshop 2012

Elizabeth Adkins and Phil Mooney led the latest Business Archives Workshop in early October 2012. The Editors invited participants to share their thoughts and experiences. Here are some of their responses:

Jessica Taylor, NBCUniversal

The SAA Business Archives Workshop exceeded all of my expectations.  Taught by professionals Phillip Mooney and Elizabeth W. Adkins, the instruction moved effortlessly with attendee participation, real world examples and group discussions.  The course was well balanced for both the novice archivist and the lifelong professionals in the field.  The focused direction in the importance of relevance and visibility for any archives no matter what size or budget one is working with resonated with every participant.  Visiting local archives and meeting with fellow archivists was a fantastic bonus to an excellent program that will resonate with me for years to come.  I walked away with a newfound confidence, innovative ideas and excitement towards my collection management that I never expected.  Attending this workshop was a wonderful opportunity that was so much more than I ever expected, and I am excited to share everything I learned with my colleagues.  I highly recommend it to anyone in the field that wants to learn from the best. 


Anna Lucas Mayer, Wells Fargo & Co.

Whether building a new archive with no prior experience or working at an established collection in a changing business environment, I would recommend SAA’s Business Archives Workshop to everyone. The educational content is relevant and thought provoking, the tours are insightful, and the camaraderie with other business archivists is invaluable. I only wish there was a Part Two!


Johanna Payne, Scentsy, Inc.

I was very excited to attend the Business Archives Workshop in Minneapolis this October. I had been waiting for it to be offered again for over a year. I have been the Corporate Archivist for Scentsy, Inc. for two years. We have only been in business for eight years, but we already have a rich history. I was by far the newest and least experienced Archivist in the group. My background is in marketing and I have been a self-taught Archivist. Most of the attending Archivists work for companies that have been in business for 50+ years and they have spent their careers in Archiving. Phil and Elizabeth were amazing teachers and were so willing to share their knowledge of business archives. I learned more in those three days than in the two years I’ve been the Archivist.  I returned to work with a two-page list of things to implement.

My favorite part of the class was taking tours of other Corporate Archives (General Mills, Cargill and Target). It was good to see these Archives in action, especially since I am so new to the profession. I also appreciated the class discussions and teacher encouragement. Phil and Elizabeth taught us the best ways to promote ourselves and our Archives and the other class participants were so willing to share their best practices and experiences.

I hope that you continue to offer this class so that other Corporate Archivists can have this opportunity.


Shaun Kirkpatrick, ACE Group

Top 10 Insights from the Business Archives Workshop

1.  Often, business archives' best practices are "it depends."

2.  Even among business archivists, there is considerable difference in our repositories and how we spend our time.  For example, to those in consumer goods and entertainment companies, licensing concerns are common knowledge while discovery requests are bothersome time-killers.  To us in financial services companies, trademarks are almost a foreign language but litigation is what keeps us around!

3.  We report to a lot of different departments or divisions.  Communications is frequent.  Knowledge Management is trendy.  Human Resources is possible though odd.  Administration (the division I'm in) is apparently unfortunate, though at least is a step up from Facilities...

4.  A corporate archives should have its own budget.  Alas, we did not have time to discuss why exactly your employer should want to give you one!

5.  There is no one right way to do arrangement in a corporate archives.  By business unit or division?  Often.  By parent or predecessor company?  Sometimes.  By function?  Sure, that works too...

6.  Corporate archivists like to talk about electronic records, but still don't really know what to do about them.

7.  Some corporate archives are in companies that embrace their history and heritage, and some are not.  Some corporate archives are well-funded and supported, and some are not.  Sadly, one does not always lead to the other.

8.  It may seem like the coolest thing about downtown Minneapolis would be the skyways that connect many of their office buildings, but it becomes much less cool when you discover that few of the eateries along the skyways stay open past 6 p.m.  It's a hard city to find dinner...  (My vote for the actual coolest thing downtown is the Mill City Museum.  Or maybe the shopping-cart escalator in the flagship Target store.)

9.  Other cities have Rocky statues!  Well, okay, not actually of Rocky Balboa, as my Philadelphia does, but of other fictional pop-culture characters where tourists can go embarrass themselves.  Minneapolis’s version is Mary Richards, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, who gets a statue at the spot of her famous opening-credits hat-toss.  Down river, St. Paul features statuettes of nine Peanuts characters from native Charles Schulz.

10.  The Mall of America is fun but inescapably noisy, thanks mostly to the indoor amusement park around which the rest of the mall revolves.  A bad place to relax.  But a great place for dessert!

Many thanks to our contributors for sharing, thanks to Phil and Elizabeth for facilitating, and thanks to the Minneapolis-area repositories that hosted the group!


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