Call for Volunteers: SAA-ACRL/RBMS Joint Task Force on Primary Source Literacy

The SAA Council approved in November the creation of a joint task force with the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries:

  • SAA-ACRL/RBMS Joint Task Force on the Development of Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy.

The group is charged for a two-year period that begins in September 2015 and continues through SAA’s 2017 Annual Meeting.  The group is made up of 12 individuals, with equal representation by each organization.  See the description below for more information.

SAA Vice President Dennis Meissner seeks volunteers for the six SAA slots on this task force.  If you’re interested in serving, include in an email message directed to the following information:  Your full name, title, and institution; a brief summary of your experience within SAA and the profession; and a statement of interest in and qualifications for serving on the task force (specifically related to your background and experience or a particular interest in the subject matter).  Please use the following subject line:  Volunteer for Joint Task Force on Primary Source Literacy (Your Last Name).  Deadline:  Wednesday, February 25.  SAA membership is required for appointment as an SAA representative on the task force. 

SAA-ACRL/RBMS Joint Task Force on the Development of Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy

I. Purpose

The SAA-ACRL/RBMS Joint Task Force on the Development of Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy (hereafter “Task Force”) is responsible for the development of guidelines (hereafter “Guidelines”) that will provide competency standards for primary source literacy. Guidelines will consider and address students’ ability to interpret and analyze primary sources and students’ understanding of and ability to apply effective research skills across multiple disciplines. The Guidelines might also address ethical uses of primary sources, the understanding of legal and social implications of records, the cultivation of historical empathy, the contextualization of documents into broader historical frameworks, and the curiosity and appreciation for the past.

The Guidelines will be submitted for approval by the appropriate standards review committees and executive bodies of SAA and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and ACRL’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS). The Task Force will recommend a plan for maintenance and review of the Guidelines at the time the Guidelines are submitted to SAA and ACRL/RBMS for approval.

II. Selection, Size, and Length of Term

The Task Force is charged for a two-year period that begins in September 2015 and continues through the 2017 SAA Annual Meeting. The Task Force may be charged for an additional year if SAA or ACRL standards and executive bodies determine that the standard needs further development before it can be approved. The Task Force will include twelve members, with an equal number of members appointed by SAA and ACRL according to their normal appointment procedures. A Task Force member may be a member of both organizations but will be appointed to the Task Force representing one organization only.  In addition to the committee members, ex officio members and liaisons will be appointed by each organization according to its normal procedures.

Due consideration will be given by each organization to appointing members who have the requisite knowledge and experience in instruction with primary sources and prior experience with standards development.  

One member appointed by each organization will be designated to serve as a Task Force co-chair.  The co-chairs will be responsible for convening Task Force meetings, leading Task Force work, ensuring that deadlines are met, following procedures of their respective organizations, and communicating as needed or required with the standards and executive bodies of their respective organizations. The Task Force will also assemble an (informal) advisory board of experts and representative stakeholders who will review and comment on the Guidelines as they develop. 

III. Reporting Procedures

The Task Force co-chairs will report at least semi-annually to the chairs of the standards committees of their respective organizations.  In conjunction with the chairs of their respective standards committees and in coordination with each other, the co-chairs may also schedule public hearings or conduct public comment periods or both to solicit input on draft versions of the Guidelines.  The public hearings may be conducted in person at the SAA Annual Meeting, the midwinter or annual meetings of the American Library Association, biennial ACRL conferences, and/or annual RBMS pre-conferences. Public hearings may also be conducted virtually.

If the Task Force is granted funding support from its parent or extramural organizations, the co-chairs will provide all necessary narrative reports to the SAA and ACRL offices to ensure that reporting requirements of SAA and ACRL and the funding source are met.

IV. Duties and Responsibilities

To fulfill its purpose as described above, the Task Force is specifically charged to:

  • Develop a definition of primary source literacy and a set of guidelines—standards, performance indicators, and outcomes directed at college and university students. These Guidelines will address primary sources wherever they might be available (e.g., in physical collections, in published volumes, in licensed databases) and will be applicable to a wide range of institutional types that offer instructional services.
  • Consult broadly in developing Guidelines with professional organizations of those who teach and use primary sources, in addition to archives and library organizations.
  • Ensure that the language and scope of the Guidelines are appropriate for those teaching and learning with primary sources.
  • Publicize and conduct public hearings, public comment periods, or both to ensure that members of the archives and library professions have adequate opportunities to become aware of and contribute to the development of the Guidelines.
  • Follow procedures outlined in SAA’s Procedures for Review and Approval of an SAA-Developed Standard and ACRL’s Procedures for Preparation of New Standards and Guidelines to ensure that the SAA Council, ACRL Standards, and RBMS Executive Committee can approve and adopt the Guidelines in a timely manner.

V. Meetings

The Task Force will carry out its charge primarily via electronic mail, conference calls, and online meetings in accordance with the meeting policies of the respective organizations.[1] Face-to-face meetings will also be scheduled during the SAA Annual Meeting (pending space availability) and the midwinter and annual meetings of the American Library Association, which is when ACRL/RBMS business meetings are conducted. Task Force members will be encouraged but not required to attend face-to-face meetings in person; if possible, however, the co-chairs will make arrangements for virtual participation in these meetings via conference call or online meeting software. Co-chairs will be required to attend (in person) the face-to-face meetings held during the regular meetings of their respective organizations and will be strongly encouraged to attend (in person) the face-to-face meetings of the other organization.

Minutes will be prepared for each face-to-face meeting and any conference call or online meeting that meets policy definitions for a meeting, and the minutes will be posted within thirty days to the public websites of the respective organizations.


[1] See and


Adopted by the SAA Council: November 2014
Revised: December 2014