ALA/SAA Joint Statement on Access Review Task Force

A newly formed joint task force of SAA and ALA members is charged with reviewing, updating, and revising the 1994 ALA/SAA Joint Statement on Access to Original Research Materials. In pursuing its charge, the group will benefit from a preliminary revision of the statement by an ALA/RBMS task force. SAA appointees are: Joseph Anderson (American Institute for Physics), Pat Michaelis (Kansas State Historical Society), and Donna Webber (Simmons College). ALA/ACRL/RBMS appointees are: Elaine Barone (Buffalo & Erie County Public Library), Timothy Murray (University of Delaware), and Diane Windham Shaw (Lafayette College).


Prepare a statement for the Council's consideration that addresses as comprehensively as possible the issues and policies related to researcher access to archives and manuscripts collections (commonly referred to as manuscript collections, special collections, and archives) owned or maintained by a clearly defined set of repository types (it is unclear at this point whether the statement is meant to apply to all repositories, including for example business archives and other private organizational archives such as churches, or instead to only a subset of repositories, e.g. college and university libraries, archives, and special collections, state and local public and private historical societies, independent research libraries, state and local libraries and archives, federal archives, records centers, and presidential libraries).

  • SAA Task force members should consciously represent the interests/concerns/experience/practice of the range of repositories to be affected by the statement, even though the members may not directly represent all of those repository types.
  • The statement should make clear what material and what repositories are to be governed by it, whether the statement is meant to be guidelines/recommendations versus standards, and the relationship of the statement to other relevant documents (such as ethics statements). 
  • The statement should explicitly take note of intellectual property issues, privacy and confidentiality issues, freedom of information issues, equality of access issues, and issues raised by the Protocols for Native American Archival Materials, among others; however, the Task Force can elect to consider one or more of these issues outside its purview so long as an explanation to that effect is provided. 
  • Development and discussion of the statement should follow guidelines for the development of SAA Standards regardless of whether the statement will be formally considered a standard, to ensure a process of wide dissemination and comment before final consideration by governing bodies.
  • The statement should be fully cognizant of, but need not directly build on, previous iterations of the statement.

SAA Members

  • Joseph Anderson (American Institute for Physics),
  • Pat Michaelis (Kansas State Historical Society), and
  • Donna Webber (Simmons College)


The original ALA-SAA Joint Statement on Access to Original Research Materials in Libraries, Archives, and Manuscript Repositories was developed jointly in 1978 by the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of ACRL and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Committee on Reference and Access Policies (C&RL News 40, April 1979, pp. 111-12).

In response to a request for periodic review by ACRL, RBMS established a Committee on Access Guidelines, chaired by Robert Blesse, in 1993. This committee prepared an initial revision and then referred the document to the ALA/SAA Joint Committee in 1994. A final compilation was prepared by a working group appointed by the Joint Committee. Members of the working group were Mark Vargas (chair), Cathy Henderson, Timothy Murray, and Elena Danielson.

In 2006, and RBMS committee, chaired by William Joyce, was created to prepare an initial revision mandated by ALA standards policies.  When that draft was brought to the attention of SAA, a new joint task force was formed to complete work on a major revision, to be submitted to both SAA and ALA standards committees/boards for review prior to review by governing boards.  The 2007 task force is composed of six members, including 2 co-chairs, three members each from RBMS and SAA.


The task force will convene by phone and email. 


The task force chairs shall submit to the SAA President and the RBMS Chair periodic informal reports on the task force's progress and recommendations. 


  • January 1, 2008:  Interim report, for distribution to SAA Council at its winter meeting.
  • June 1, 2008:  Substantive draft published for professional feedback in Archival Outlook and appropriate RBMS or ACRL venue.
  • August 27, 2008:  Open forum discussion at SAA annual conference.
  • January 1, 2009:  Open forum discussion at ACRL midwinter conference
  • March 1 2009:  Complete revisions of document based on public comments as considered appropriate and necessary. Submit revised document to SAA and ALA standard units.
  • April 1 2009:  Submission for agenda item at spring ACRL Executive Committee meeting.
  • May 1 2009: Submission for agenda item at summer SAA Council meeting