SAA Council Adopts Revised Code of Ethics for Archivists, Approves Two New Roundtables

Following two years of development by the Committee on Ethics and Professional Conduct, the SAA Council approved at its January 25 – 27 meeting in Chicago a revised Code of Ethics for Archivists and decided that the Code should appear in conjunction with SAA’s Statement of Core Values, adopted in May 2011.  According to the new preface accompanying the two documents on the SAA website:  “Statements of ethics emerge from the core values of a profession. The Core Values of Archivists and the Code of Ethics for Archivists are intended to be used together to guide archivists, as well as to inform those who work with archivists, in shaping expectations for professional engagement.  The former is a statement of what archivists believe; the latter is a framework for archivists’ behavior.”

In drafting a revision of the Code, the CEPC solicited member feedback via an open forum at the 2010 Annual Meeting and online from February 1 to April 4, 2011, receiving more than 60 comments. As noted in its report, “CEPC members support an aspirational Code of Ethics, but one that more clearly reflects recent scholarship and professional discourse regarding archival ethics and the profession’s goals and identity.”  The Council also adopted a CEPC recommendation that the Committee develop online resources to accompany the Code, including a collection of supporting case studies.  View the Code of Ethics for Archivists and the Statement of Core Values here.

In addition, the Council approved petitions to form the Military Archives Roundtable (MART) and the Students and New Archives Professionals Roundtable (SNAP).  Both will have organizational meetings at the 2012 Annual Meeting.  To read more about the roundtables and to join: and

In other actions and discussions, the Council:

  • Reviewed progress on SAA’s FY 2010-2014 Strategic Priority Outcomes and Activities Plan.
  • Approved a proposal to convene a summit of regional archival associations in conjunction with SAA’s 2012 Annual Meeting in San Diego.  The inaugural summit will be co-hosted by SAA and the Society of California Archivists (the “local regional”). A joint task force of SAA and SCA members will be formed to plan for the summit.
  • Approved a recommendation that SAA staff draft and submit to the Institute of Museum and Library Services a proposal for funding of a National Forum Grant to prepare for the next iteration of “Archival Census and Education Needs Survey in the U.S.” (A*CENSUS).
  • Conducted an annual review of the Society’s Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policy, and made no changes.
  • Discussed concerns about destruction of Occupy Wall Street archival materials by New York City personnel and approved a motion charging the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable to investigate and monitor the status of Occupy Movement archives, with a report to the Council in August 2012.
  • Reviewed and discussed a report by Standards Committee Co-chair Marcy Flynn on the merits and costs of membership in the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  The Council determined that there are no compelling reasons at this time to justify the costs of ANSI membership.
  • Discussed complaints received last year from some Annual Meeting attendees regarding provision of email addresses to conference exhibitors, and approved a motion to redefine SAA’s database opt-out preferences to: 1) allow members to opt out of promotional email messages from SAA; and 2) allow members to opt out of promotional mail and email from external organizations and vendors.
  • Discussed the need for contingency plans and crisis communications with Annual Meeting attendees in the event of extreme weather and other emergencies. The Council charged staff to work with SAA’s meeting planners to develop response procedures.
  • Discussed and made revisions to “Draft A” of the 2012 Annual Meeting schedule.
  • Discussed ongoing concerns about retention, preservation, and provision of access to SAA’s digital records and established a Council subgroup (Dooley, Kaplan, Landis, and McCrea) to investigate options and prepare a discussion item for the June 2012 Council meeting.
  • Appointed Christopher Prom, William Wallach, and Peter Wosh as members of the Committee on the Selection of SAA Fellows.  The three appointees will join the five most immediate past presidents in electing the 2012 class of Fellows.

In addition the Council dealt with a significant number of items related to SAA governance.  The group:

  • Approved “Guidelines for Preparation of Briefing Papers on Proposed Constitutional and Bylaws Amendments” for inclusion in the Governance Manual, based on changes in voting procedures adopted at the 2011 Annual Membership Meeting.
  • Approved revisions to the Standards Committee’s description and procedures.
  • Approved a definition of “Working Groups” to be added to Section XIV of the Governance Manual.
  • Discussed proposed revisions to the charge of the Cultural Property Working Group and reaffirmed the Council’s desire to 1) have a working group dedicated to cultural property issues and 2) assign to that group the measurable activities currently outlined in SAA’s FY 2010-2014 Strategic Priority Outcomes and Activities Plan.
  • Approved a request to revise the name of the RLG Roundtable to the Research Libraries Roundtable and amend its statement of purpose.
  • Approved amendments to the bylaws of the Government Records Section and Women Archivists Roundtable.
  • Discussed inconsistencies in SAA’s policies and procedures on Sections and Roundtables.  Kaplan and Landis agreed to conduct a thorough review, work with staff to clean up minor textual errors, and report back to the Council on policy inconsistencies in June 2012.
  • Reviewed reports from SAA officers, component groups, and staff.

All materials presented at the January 2011 Council meeting are available via the meeting agendas. Minutes of the meeting will be posted on the SAA website no later than 60 days after the meeting.

The SAA Council will meet again June 8 – 10, 2012, at SAA headquarters in Chicago. The deadline for proposal of agenda items for all Council meetings is four weeks prior to the start of the meeting.  Forward your agenda items to SAA President Gregor Trinkaus-Randall (gregor.trinkaus-randall[at], to your SAA Council liaison (for component groups), or to SAA Executive Director Nancy Beaumont (nbeaumont[at]