2020 Annual Meeting Minutes

Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC)

Annual Meeting Minutes

Friday, July 31, 2020

3:30 pm EDT

Online: Zoom

  1. Introductions

    1. The Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC) provides an official venue for information exchange among the leadership of regional archival organizations, and among the Regionals and the Society of American Archivists. Our aim is to foster collaboration and offer formal channels to coordinate efforts among the Regionals, and between the Regionals and SAA with the hope to reduce costs and increase services to archivists around the nation. Such efforts include but are not limited to advocacy, public awareness, education, disaster planning/recovery, and grant development.

    2. Cathy Miller is the Chair of the Advocacy Committee. She became the chair in April this year and is continuing for the next year. She is the representative for the Society of Georgia Archivists. 

    3. Whitney Miller is the Chair of the Disaster Planning and Recovery Committee. Whitney became the chair in April of 2019 and is continuing for the next year. Whitney is the representative for the Michigan Archival Association too. 

    4. Michael Law is the Chair of the Education Committee as well as the Co-Chair of RAAC. He became the Education Chair in April 2019 and stepped in the role of co-chair in September 2019. He is continuing for the next year. He is a previous representative for the Society of Georgia Archivists as well. 

    5. Courtney Bailey is the Chair of the Membership Committee. Courtney became the chair just last month and is continuing for the next year. Courtney is the representative for the Society of North Carolina Archivists.

    6. Lastly, Mary Rubin is the Chair of the Public Awareness Committee as well as the outgoing Co-Chair. She became the Public Awareness Chair as well as a Co-Chair in August 2018 and she is rolling off at the end of this meeting. She is the representative for the Society of Florida Archivists as well. 

  2. Reports

    1. Co-Chairs (Mary Rubin & Michael Law)

      1. This past year, RAAC has been operating at a low capacity. Before Cathy Miller and Courtney Bailed joined us, we had 7-month vacancies in the Advocacy and Membership Chair roles. Additionally, we still have a vacancy in our Grants Chair role. Our membership dwindled to a little over 30 members so that is something that Mary worked on this past year. We are grateful that Courtney will take over those endeavors.  Prior to opening our membership, we regularly had about 45 members. At the beginning of this year, conversations were held on how to engage and increase our membership and we decided to open it as well as no longer require that our representative be part of committees. This latter part is relatively recent and still being implemented. Our hope is that those interested in working with Committee Chairs will reach out when upcoming projects are being planned and emailed out to the listserv. This will enable our new members, who may not be their regional representative but has a stake in their regional organization, to contribute to our initiatives. Opening up our membership has been beneficial. As of this morning we have 71 members on our listserv. 

      2. From 2016 to 2018, RAAC worked with regionals to join the National Coalition of History as the Sustaining Membership level. MARAC, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, continues to join NCH yearly at a lower level. Mary had a lengthy discussion with MARAC leadership last year about the work that it takes to acquire, receive, and process the donations for the NCH Membership. In 2019, MARAC reached out to all of the organizations that previously gave on behalf of RAAC's 2018 NCH membership. In 2019, we were unable to garner enough support to rejoin at the Sustaining Membership Level, which is set at $4000, so we attempted to formulate alternative methods to reach the Sustaining Membership Level. For this year, we attempted to seek funding outside of the regional organizations. Mary reached out to SAA to see if there were any possibilities of SAA paying or contributing to RAAC’s membership. Unfortunately, SAA was unable to commit to it financially as well. Mary had planned to start reaching out to vendors shortly after that but with everything going on (COVID-19 in particular), she did not get to it. We do not see RAAC being able to maintain a NCH membership anytime soon without someone more dedicated to the project. Not only was it not feasible last year, we have heard that a few regional associations' budgets have been impacted by COVID-19 mostly from the inability to hold an annual meeting. If your organization is interested in contributing to NCH, we highly recommend joining or reaching out to MARAC. The lowest NCH level is the Basic level and it is $600.

      3. In December, Mary submitted a comment on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Proposed Rule on their Fee Schedule and Changes to Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements on RAAC’s behalf, which opposed the changes to the fees for accessing the historic public records. The comment can be found here: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=USCIS-2019-0010-10038

      4. We hosted what we believe is RAAC’s first webinar. The webinar Planning a Virtual Conference for Archival Organizations was held this past Wednesday. We had wanted to host an in‐person symposium this year; however, COVID‐19 changed those plans. Cathy Miller mentioned that the Society of Georgia Archivists was now planning for a full virtual conference and wished that there was something out there to guide their regional archival organization which led to the creation of the webinar. It was attended by at least 64 individuals. The answer may be a little higher since we did have some anonymous attendees.

      5. Michael and Mary continued to meet with the Joint Group w/ CoPP, CoPA, I&A, and RAAC, which has potential for more collaborative projects. Cathy Miller and Mary Rubin will be RAAC’s contacts for the upcoming year. 

      6. Lastly, RAAC has a new email as of this past year (raaconsortium AT gmail.com)

    2. Advocacy (Cathy Miller)

      1. Cathy introduced herself to members in May and began conversation about possible advocacy projects to consider.

      2. Working in concert with RAAC co-chair, successfully edited the “Advocacy Request Form” on RAAC’s website so that submitted forms will send to the raaconsortium AT gmail.com email address.

      3. Cathy communicated with subcommittee members to determine representation for the subcommittee for the upcoming 2020-2021 year. 

      4. Forthcoming, there will be a call out to RAAC membership to gauge interest in participation on the Advocacy Subcommittee.

    3. Disaster (Whitney Miller)

      1. Whitney responded to an organizational change to create a 2-year goal & objective outlook (instead of a 3 year one).  These primary goals for the Disaster Subcommittee are to work toward encouraging regionals & state organizations to 

        1. (1) place on their boards a dedicated disaster response resource person or liaison and 

        2. (2) to explore the feasibility of creating or sponsoring a credentialing  program for archives, libraries, & historical societies staff to better assist first responders in prioritization & salvaging damaged collections.

      2. The subcommittee reviewed the numerous online disaster assistance links on the RAAC Disaster Response section and discovered that a large portion of the links were out of date.  The subcommittee has updated many of the links and continues to work toward updating the remainder.

      3. Connected with SAA’s Tragedy Response Task Force to provide a link for their Resource Kit on Responding to Human Tragedies, on RAAC’s Disaster Response page.

      4.  Participated in the “Future of RAAC” planning.

      5.  Reassessing the needs of regionals, through the COVID lens, to provide assistance.

    4. Education (Michael Law)

      1. The RAAC Education Subcommittee nominally has nine members for both 2019 and 2020. Membership, however, has fluctuated due to disjointed terms and appointments, so there was significant turnover among the committee, through to the present. We began this year with two primary goals:

        1. A revision of what had been RAAC’s three-year plan, which had come to its end, and is now a two-year plan going forward. 

        2. The exploration of programs and speakers in service of a symposium (first, in-person, and then altered to a virtual plan).

      2. In both cases, the feedback from committee members was too spartan to put together a workable plan up to March. Plans may have coalesced under more typical conditions as everyone settled into the Spring, but the marked alterations to everyday work due to COVID-19, and the disparate accessibility of communication and planning instruments rendered an organized event, or portion, led by the education committee untenable. 

      3. The committee looks forward to the regrouping to come pandemic responses wane, and more typical conditions normalize. 

    5. Grants (Unfilled)

      1. As mentioned earlier, we currently have a vacancy in our Grants Chair role so there is no report for this Committee. 

    6. Membership (Courtney Bailey)

      1. Dara Flinn and Courtney will be working to ensure that our list of representatives from regional organizations is up-to-date, that all willing and able people get plugged into RAAC subcommittees, and that the list of regional organizations on the SAA website is up-to-date.

    7. Public Awareness (Mary Rubin)

      1. As the Public Awareness Chair, Mary takes care of the general website updates and listserv announcements. The main project, which is the Archivists Design Share Portal, that was started last year has been on hiatus. It’s a collaborative project with SAA’s Issues & Advocacy section. Special thanks to Kathleen Smith who continues to run our Facebook account.

  3. Joint Working Group on Issues and Awareness Report (Rachel Chatalbash, report read by Mary Rubin)

    1. Rachel Chatalbash has been representing RAAC on the Joint Working Group on Issues and Awareness for the past four years. She wanted to share a little bit about the group and what they have been doing.

    2. The Joint Working Group coordinates the efforts of RAAC, the Council of State Archivists, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and the Society of American Archivists in areas of common concern, including:

      1. coordinating actions to address public policy and legislative concerns for the archives profession 

      2. coordinating strategies for the preservation of and access to archival records throughout the US, and

      3. cooperating on efforts to raise awareness of the value of archives 

    3. The group meets at least once a month via conference call to update our organizations on advocacy and awareness issues facing the archives field.

    4. Over the course of this year, we have focused on a range of political advocacy efforts, including coordinated letter-writing campaigns about important issues, and we also released a joint statement articulating our professional recommendation that public officials must use official government email accounts for the conduct of public business. 

    5. We are currently working on updating and revising our Joint Working Group’s governance document, which includes reassessing the Group’s charge, membership composition, and governing procedures. One outcome of this reassessment is that RAAC may gain a second member on the Joint Working Group, which Rachel thinks will help us become even more engaged with ongoing and future projects.

    6. Rachel looks forward to continuing to represent RAAC on this Joint Working Group this year. If you have any questions about the Group’s activities, please feel free to email me.

  4. SAA Council News

    1. Budget

      1. On June 30 the council approved a Fiscal Year 2021 budget of $2,107,623 in revenues, $2,161,883 in expenses, and a net loss of $54,260. 

      2. Contributing to the projected net loss are anticipated declines in SAA membership and Annual Meeting revenues, due largely to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notable among the steps to contain costs are zeroing out of all travel expenses, a move to digital-only publication of American Archivist as of January 2021 and Archival Outlook by May 2021, suspension of the pilot project to fund Section initiatives, and a decision not to fill recently vacant staff positions in Education.

      3. To paraphrase Meredith:

        1. It's not great to approve a deficit budget, but we understand the importance of maintaining our capacity to provide services and high levels of support to members while accounting for the ongoing impact of the pandemic and economic downturn on our profession.

      4. SAA Treasurer Amy Fitch and Finance/Administration Director Peter Carlson led a conversation with members about SAA’s financial outlook on Friday, July 17. There is a recording of that meeting on the SAA site.

    2. Black Lives and Archives

      1. Following Council's statement on Black Lives and archives made on June 2, there have been two sessions on what this means for our work going forward. Over 900 attendees joined the community reflection on June 11, and a follow-up listening and strategy session was held on July 24 with about 300 attendees. Thank you all who joined us in listening, reflecting, and strategizing on how we can create change within the society and begin repairing centuries of violence committed against Black people in our society and profession. 

      2. Both sessions were recorded and are available on the SAA site.

    3. August Council meeting

      1. The next Council meeting will be on Monday, August 3. Agenda items of note are:

        1. Approval of the charge and description of the Tragedy Response working group

        2. A discussion (ongoing) on assessment and sustainability of SAA sections

        3. Update on recruitment of the AA editor

        4. Various other component group and staff reports

    4. Archives*Records 2020

      1. Over 1700 people currently registered for the virtual annual meeting.

      2. Remember to use Sched to plan your schedule and pre-register for the events where necessary. When you RSVP to the session you will receive the Zoom links and other relevant info.

  5. New Business

    1. Open Membership 

      1. The open membership has been mentioned quite a bit above. We also need to mention that our listserv is a bit wonky in the SAA system. People can join but they can’t leave without contacting Felicia Owens (fowens AT archivists.org). For our members that have been cycling off their representative terms, we’ve been emailing them that but that information is on our website as well. 

  6. Old Business

    1. 2020 Symposium Cancelled

    2. Elections/Open Seats

      1. Our Grants Chair is open and following this meeting, a Co-Chair position will be open. 

        1. Co-chair should be limited to people who are active or previous representatives. The remaining chairs should be a part of their regional organization.