Council Discusses Employment Issues, Updates Strategic Plan

At its January 23-26 meeting in Chicago, the Council devoted a full day to a facilitated discussion of employment issues in the profession and to updating the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan

"As was made clear from our discussion of this 'mega issue,' employment issues present a complex, multi-faceted dilemma for our profession. Effective management of this dilemma will require creative and collaborative thinking and involvement by various components of our membership over the long term.  The SAA Council is committed to looking at ways to bring together students and new professionals, mid-career archivists, archival educators, employers, and others who can help us find ways to manage a difficult – and, for many, a painful – situation," said SAA President Danna Bell.

As one practical step forward, the Council adopted "Best Practices for Internships as a Component of Graduate Archival Education," which provides basic guidance for graduate students, archival educators, and internship supervisors on the nature of work involved with internships, communication, evaluation, and compensation.  The document was drafted by a Council subgroup, published for member comment in the fall, and put forward to the Standards Committee for review as a "best practice."

A second group currently is drafting "Best Practices for Volunteers in Archives," which will follow the same Standards Committee procedure and will be put forward for Council adoption in May 2014.

In other actions, the Council:

  • Adopted "Key Performance Indicators" for each of the Strategic Plan Goals. The KPIs provide a snapshot of what achievement of a Goal will look like.  (Example:  For Goal 1, Advocating for Archivists and Archives:  "SAA provides an increasing range of resources that are useful in articulating the vital role of archivists and archives.")  The Council is continuing to refine specific activities within the Plan that will be addressed in the remaining months of FY14 and throughout FY15.
  • Established with the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries two joint task forces, one on developing Standardized Holding Counts and Measures for Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries and the second on developing Standardized Statistical Measures for the Public Services of Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries.  Bell noted, "The Council is especially excited by the prospect of developing these metrics so that our organizations are in a better position to collect standardized data to reinforce the importance of archives – and archivists!"
  • Reviewed the drafts of six issue briefs in support of SAA’s Advocacy Agenda prepared by the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy.  The briefs address the Presidential Records Act, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, FOIA, Orphan Works, Adequate Funding of Government Archives and Archival Programs, and Closing of Archives.  Final briefs—which are designed to provide talking points that can be adapted easily by archivists, supporters, and the media—will be reviewed by the Council in May 2014 and posted on the SAA website as soon as adopted.  Briefs on other issues of importance to SAA members and supporters will be drafted in the coming year.
  • Discussed a recommendation by two SAA members that the Council develop a code of conduct for SAA events and websites, and assigned a Council subgroup to review current policies and recommend a way forward.
  • Accepted a recommendation from the Glossary Working Group to change its name to the Dictionary Working Group, effectively agreeing that the new version of this work will be titled Dictionary of Archives Terminology.  The 2005 A Glossary of Archival and Records Terminology will exist in perpetuity for historical and evolutionary purposes.
  • Elected Deborra Richardson, Kaye Lanning Minchew, and Michael Fox to serve on the 2014 Committee on the Selection of SAA Fellows.  They join the five most immediate past presidents on the committee.
  • Approved a petition to form a new student chapter at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota, which brings the total number of SAA student chapters to 36.

Minutes of the Council meeting will be published within 60 days and made available on the SAA website at:

The next meeting of the SAA Council will take place May 22-24 in Chicago.  To suggest agenda items, contact SAA President Danna Bell ( or Executive Director Nancy Beaumont (  Agenda items are due 4 weeks in advance of the meeting.