Council Exemplary Service Award: The Sustainable Heritage Network

The Sustainable Heritage Network is a 2017 recipient of the Society of American Archivists' Council Exemplary Service Award. The award recognizes a special contribution to the archives profession—and especially to SAA—and is given at the discretion of the SAA Council.

The Sustainable Heritage Network (SHN) was formed in response to a 2012 Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums report—“Sustaining Indigenous Culture”—that found a need for training in the lifecycle of digital materials through short-topic courses and online resources. Since then, the SHN team, advisors, and partners have developed a model for inclusive and community-centered practices, funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and based in the Center for Digital Scholarship and Curation at Washington State University, which provides a space for tribal archivists, librarians, and museum specialists to communicate and learn about digital stewardship and preservation.

The SHN online platform brings together communities, institutions, and professionals who share knowledge, educational resources, and technology tools that are necessary for the responsible digitization and preservation of cultural heritage—which SHN calls “collaborative stewardship.” SHN’s work embodies one of SAA’s core principles—a commitment to diversity and inclusion among members of the archives profession as well as within the archival record. SHN not only provides a valuable resource for tribal archivists, librarians, and museum specialists, but also serves as proof that collaboration works and that community action matters.

This Council Exemplary Service Award recognizes the seven partner organizations, the nine members of the Core Sustainable Heritage Network Team, and the thirteen individual advisors who—together—have created and sustained SHN for the benefit of our nation’s cultural heritage.