From the SAA Council: Update on Cancellation of American Archivist Brown Bag Lunch Event

August 15, 2019—At our August 1 meeting in Austin, the SAA Council voted unanimously to cancel a scheduled American Archivist brown bag lunch session focused on a pre-print of an article entitled “To Everything There Is a Season,” by Frank Boles. The rationale for the cancellation is provided here.

SAA’s bylaws charge the Council “to provide leadership and direction for the Society and its component groups to ensure achievement of SAA’s goals” (Section. IV.D.1). We have taken up a charge from the membership to promote a welcoming and safe environment for our members in accordance with the expectations laid out in the SAA Code of Conduct, which we revised in July 2019. This is of paramount concern to this Council and is at the forefront of our considerations. In cancelling the brown bag lunch discussion, we took an action that all of us felt necessary in the context of the Austin conference.  We agree with many that the ideas put forward in the article warrant a vigorous professional conversation, and it was not our intent to limit that. 

At our August 6 meeting, the Council received and discussed a proposed plan from the American Archivist Editor and Editorial Board that outlined a review of various editorial processes as well as next steps for the publication of the article—and related content—in the upcoming issue of the journal. We provided comments to the Editor and we voted to approve an in-person meeting of the Editorial Board in the fall to facilitate this work.  We believe that these steps, taken in a timely and thoughtful manner, will lead to a more thorough and insightful peer review process that will help the journal be increasingly responsive to the general membership. The SAA Council supports the independence of our publications; however, SAA’s governing documents do confer on the Council the authority to question processes and to expect responsive answers and actions.

We intend that all documentation of the discussions about this matter will be included in the records of the Society of American Archivists.