Candidate Statements for 2013 Labor Archives Roundtable Co-Chair Election

Candidate Statement for Co-Chair of the Labor Archives Roundtable

Ben Blake
After working a variety of jobs and being an active member of a number of unions, including as a steelworker at US Steel Gary Works and a teamster at UPS in Chicago, I developed a strong interest in labor history and archives. I subsequently earned a BA form Hampshire College focusing on labor economics, an MA from Cleveland State in labor history and an MLIS specializing in labor archives at the University of Pittsburgh. I am currently working on completing a Digital Archives Specialist certification. In the fall, I plan to apply for admission to the PhD program at the University of Maryland and hope to study labor history part time.
My experience as an archivist has spanned a variety of institutions, where I have been involved in a variety of labor related archives projects. At Western Reserve Historical Society, I wrote an NEH grant and managed the acquisition and initial processing of a major collection, which documented steelworkers. At UPitt, I processed a variety of collections related to the region’s labor history. At Hagley Museum and Library, I was involved in reference service and digitizing many photographs related to working class history. At the Labor Archives and Research Center at SFSU, I worked as a reference archivist and assisted in the acquisition, accessioning and initial inventorying of a number of collections. At Youngstown State, I worked closely with history faculty and local steel museum on projects related to steelworkers, including the digitization of a major oral history collection. On July 1, I will start a new job as Head of Special Collections at the University of Baltimore, where I will be involved in a project documenting the steelworkers at the former Bethlehem Sparrows Point mill.
Thank you for considering my nomination.
Candidate Statement for Co-Chair of the Labor Archives Roundtable
Conor Casey, MA, MLIS, CA

It has been a pleasure serving as Labor Archives Roundtable Co-Chair for 2011-2013. In my term, I have coordinated our roundtables's adoption of bylaws to ensure our compliance with SAA council policy, spearheaded an investigative effort to determine the viability of a topical cross-repository labor collections search portal, and enhanced access to our updated LAR repository directory by helping to update it and host it on the Labor Archives of Washington website. We also added supporting documents such as Debra Bernhardt's How To Keep Union Records and other resources of interest to labor unions and labor archivists to the LAW website in concert with the LAR.
Last year, I helped coordinate the logistics of our annual Roundtable meeting at SAA with my fellow co-chair Traci Drummond. This year, I once again coordinated the meeting with co-chair Catherine Powell and have coordinated a panel that draws on LAR members on the intersection between labor and civil rights in labor collections and scholarship.
My efforts to advance the LAR dovetail with my activities as founding labor archivist at the Labor Archives of Washington at the University of Washington, a position I began in 2010. 
From 2001 to 2008, I worked in various positions at the Labor Archives and Research Center at San Francisco State University--from intern to student assistant to archivist and curator of visual collections.
My time at the Labor Archives overlapped with my undergrad degrees in Anthropology and History and my MA in US History at San Francisco State.  Interest in pursuing a career in archives led me to first the Western Archives Institute in 2005 and through an MLIS in archives and academic reference, which I completed in 2008.
If elected, I would like to pursue more collaborative projects with the Roundtable. For example, I want to continue pursuing the idea of a collective labor collections portal to allow cross-repository discovery of related collections with broad involvement of Roundtable members.  Other ideas such as the project ideas raised at our last roundtable meeting need to be pursued as roundtable projects as well. For example, one great idea that was suggested was for a comprehensive survey of labor collections as part of our documentation strategy (proposed by fellow co-chair candidate Ben Blake).


Barb Morley suggested the idea of compiling a spreadsheet to help identify gaps in documentation and perhaps create a listing of endorsed labor archivists in different geographical areas that labor unions could draw upon to consult about their records. We should create committees or working groups to pursue these kinds of projects that go beyond the limits of our annual business meeting. As well, we need to continue trying to create sessions as part of the main SAA annual meeting that relate to labor collections and draw on Roundtable members to keep our work and the value of our collections in the public eye and to recruit new members.


Thanks for considering my nomination!