2021 Independent Archivists Section Elections

Three positions to be filled to serve the 2021-22 year; Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, Web Liaison, and a Steering Committee Member-at-Large. One candidate will be elected for each position, each to serve a three year term.


The Candidates:

Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect: (Select one)

 Virginia Allison-Reinhardt (she/her)


The stewardship of artist and gallery legacies are at the heart of Virginia Allison-Reinhardt’s professional mission as a consulting archivist. She pivoted her career focus to private art archives in 2012, having served as an academic arts research librarian for five years. Virginia most recently completed projects to preserve the legacies of graphic designer Margo Chase (1958–2017) with the Chase Design Studio, and contemporary artist John Baldessari (1931-2020) with JAB Art Enterprise, LLC. She currently consults with LA-based artists to develop their studio collections' preservation protocols and systems.  

 Statement of Interest: 

Having pivoted from academic libraries to private entities and archival work, I have relied heavily on SAA's offerings to shore up my skills and learn from other colleagues engaging with the private sector. I seek to give back to the SAA community by serving as incoming chair of the Independent Archivist Section. As independents, our interests and questions can look very different from the rest of our colleagues. Connecting with other professionals that are charting their own career trajectory can provide a sense of community and camaraderie where we may otherwise feel professionally siloed. I look forward to learning how our work is similar, different, and what kinds of problems we are all solving. If elected, I will strive to continue to foster a vibrant community of support and exchange of ideas within the Independent Archivists Section. 


Web Liaison: (Select one)

 Melissa Barker



Melissa Barker is a Certified Archives Manager and Public Historian currently working at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives. She lectures, teaches and writes about the genealogy research process, researching in archives and records preservation. She conducts virtual webinar presentations across the United States for genealogical and historical societies. She writes a popular blog entitled A Genealogist in the Archives and is a well-known genealogy Book Reviewer. She writes a bi-weekly advice column entitled The Archive Lady published at Genealogy Bargains. She writes history pieces for her local newspaper The Houston County Herald called From the Archives. She is a Professional Genealogist with an expertise in Tennessee records and she is currently taking clients. She has been researching her own family history for the past 31 years.

Statement of Interest: 

I believe my experience as a genealogist for 31 years, professional genealogist for 16 years and mix that with being an archivist for 10 years, I can speak to the relationships between researchers and archives and how we can help each other make what we do better


Steering Committee Member-at-Large: (Select one)

Lydia Tang


Dr. Lydia Tang is currently an Outreach and Engagement Coordinator for LYRASIS, serving as the hosting services specialist for ArchivesSpace and DuraCloud. 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. She also has been a freelance professional musician for 15 years. She is the 2020 recipient of SAA’s Mark A. Greene Emerging Leader Award and was recognized in three SAA Council resolutions as a co-founder of the Archival Workers Emergency Fund, for spearheading the Accessibility & Disability Section’s “Archivists at Home” document, and for the “Guidelines for Accessible Archives for People with Disabilities.”

Statement of Interest:

I’m interested in running for a leadership position with the Independent Archivists because I believe this section can be a crucial resource for SAA membership as the professional landscape rapidly evolves. As a now archives-adjacent professional, I’m interested in working with section membership and leadership to see if expanding the section scope to incorporate archives-adjacent roles would be desirable to build community, representation, and resources for people working in vendor, consortia, researcher, or other roles. I hope this section can closely partner with the Career Development Subcommittee to continue to sponsor webinars and create tools to help archivists learn about “alternative career models” to adapt and reinvent their careers.

Susan Williams


Susan Williams has worked for over 40 years as a community organizer, a popular educator, a participatory researcher and librarian/archivist in East Tennessee.  She organized with Save Our Cumberland Mountains and the Tennessee Industrial Renewal Network, and now works on the Education Team at Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee.   She has a 2010 Masters of Information Science from the University of Tennessee, as a fully-funded “Information Technology for Rural Libraries” student.

Susan came to Highlander Center as a staff person in 1989.  In that time, she has led hundreds of workshops, coordinated the education team, and helped create publications documenting Highlander’s work.  She was part of the team who just completed Mapping Our Futures, a new Economics and Governance curriculum for communities.   

Susan Williams is tackling the challenge of organizing, archiving and describing Highlander historical documents and video, audio and photographic materials, as well the construction of a new library space at Highlander to better serve visitors and workshop participants at Highlander Center.    Highlander’s historical records are archived across institutions and workshop participants engaged in social change have come from across the South, Appalachia and beyond over decades of time.  She is working with these archivists and archives as well as public historians to develop a project to digitize, narrate, and make available on-line Highlander resources and stories from 87 years of history, along with related educational materials that can be used in classrooms and communities.

Statement of Interest:

I am now a librarian and archivist but made my way there through
community organizing and popular education at the Highlander Center.   I
took over the Highlander library around 2000 with little training and
have learned a lot the hard way before finally going back to school for
a Masters in Information Science.  We have a "special" library that
accompanies our social movement education programs at our workshop
center.  We have faced an arson fire at our office two years ago, the
challenge of raising money and building a new library, recovering
documents to help find history lost in the fire, and have been setting
up our new library in the midst of the pandemic.    We are now also
preparing for our 90th anniversary next year and developing historical
context to accompany archival materials to make available to students
and researchers but also younger activists and organizers who are
thirsty for history.

I would love to be part of the independent archivist group with SAA because that seems like a place I might fit and be able to learn a lot
and also contribute.  I have also been running across a lot of younger
people who are interested in preserving social movement history that is
lost and so I think that being part of this group might help me to learn
more ways to help support community-based efforts in the South and