Innovative Practices in Archives & Special Collections: Management – Table of Contents now available

As many of you may know, I’m editing a series of books on “Innovative Practices in Archives & Special Collections” for Rowman & Littlefield. The first four books are scheduled to be available this May, and I’m pleased to be able to share the list of case studies and contributors for the book on Management:

1) “We’ll Never Let You Retire!”: Creating a Culture of Knowledge Transfer
Maija Anderson, Oregon Health & Science University Library

2) Raising Cash and Building Connections: Using Kickstarter to Fund and Promote a Cultural Heritage Project
Thomas Smith, Project Gado

3) A Winning Combination: Internships and High-Impact Learning in Archives
Lisa M. Sjoberg, Concordia College

4) A Thief in Our Midst: Special Collections, Archives and Insider Theft
Christopher J. Anderson, Drew University

5) Tackling the Backlog: Conducting a Collections Assessment on a Shoestring
Joanne Archer and Caitlin Wells, University of Maryland Libraries

6) A Platform for Innovation: Creating the Labs Environment at the National Archives of Australia
Zoё D’Arcy, National Archives of Australia

7) Setting Our Own Agenda: Managing the Merger of Archives and Special Collections
Caroline Daniels, Delinda Stephens Buie, Rachel I. Howard, and Elizabeth E. Reilly, University of Louisville

8) Taking Control: Managing Organizational Change in Archives
Fynnette Eaton, Independent Consultant

9) Implementing Pre-Custodial Processing: Engaging Organizations to Invest Resources in their Records
Rob Fisher, Library and Archives Canada

10) Building Effective Leaders: Redesigning the Archives Leadership Institute
Rachel Vagts and Sasha Griffin, Luther College

11) From Evaluation to Implementation: Selecting Archival Management Software
Kira A. Dietz, Virginia Tech

12) More Bang for the Buck: Sharing Personnel and Resources Across Institutions
Erin Passehl-Stoddart and Jodi Allison-Bunnell

13) “Make a New Plan, Stan”: Useful and Painless Strategic Planning
Mark Greene, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming

You can access more information on this book and the others in the series and read some enthusiastic early reviews from Michael Kurtz and David Carmichael on the Rowman & Littlefield site:

Thanks to all the wonderful contributors and I’m looking forward to seeing all the books in print in May!

Background papers available for Canadian Archives Summit

In case you missed the announcement, this event is taking place this week and several interesting papers from the “Thought Leaders” are available online:

Representatives from l’Association des Archivistes du Quebec (AAQ), the Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA), and the Canadian Council of Archives (CCA) as well as Ian E. Wilson, the former Librarian and Archivist of Canada, have planned a special Canadian Archives Summit: Towards a New Blueprint for Canada’s Recorded Memory at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, 8:30 to 5:00, on Friday, January 17, 2014.

The Summit is intended to provide the Canadian archival community an opportunity to consider its future and envision how Canada’s documentary heritage remains a valued part of Canada’s knowledge infrastructure. The Canadian Archives Summit: Towards a New Blueprint for Canada’s Recorded Memory will be a national, interactive discussion.

Just go to event’s main page, scroll down and you can see what’s available online. I was honored to be invited to speak as one of the Agents Provocateurs to give a 7-minute talk on “The Role of Archives in a Digital Society.” I’m writing that talk out and not using PowerPoint, so as soon as the event is over I’ll post my text online, and also point to any other resources that are made available.


Nominations for SAA Emerging Leader Award due Feb. 28

I’m promoting another newish SAA award that I really believe in. Here’s a chance to recognize someone early in his/her archival career. Last year the award was given to the incomparable Mark Matienzo. Surely there must be another such sterling “early career” archivist or two who deserve to be nominated? Deadline is February 28, so if you know someone, get working on it.

Awarded for the first time in 2012, the SAA Emerging Leader Award celebrates and encourages early-career archivists who have completed archival work of broad merit, demonstrated significant promise of leadership, performed commendable service to the archives profession, or some combination of these.


Nominees must have more than two years and less than ten years of professional archives experience at the time of nomination. The award is given based on the total experience and contributions of the awardee, including knowledge, leadership, participation, and achievements in the profession.

Details on the award criteria, eligibility and the application form may be found at:


Hi there. I’m Kate and I’m the one in the gray sweater and white top today.

That information isn’t going to mean anything to most of you today or anyone tomorrow, but at least for today it might help anyone attending the MARAC fall meeting find me if they want to talk to me.

What’s this about?

I’ve been looking over some of the results from SAA’s Member Needs and Satisfaction Survey and there’s some stuff in there that indicates people feel somewhat disconnected from SAA’s leadership. So, since I’m part of the leadership, and I’m here in the midst of bunch of archivists, I just want to make sure that if anyone attending MARAC today has a question about SAA or wants to share an opinion, you know that you can talk to me. I don’t consider myself an intimidating person, so I don’t know if I really need to make that clear, but maybe I do. And I apologize ahead of time to any other women attending MARAC who are also wearing a gray sweater and white top today.

What about tomorrow? (I haven’t planned my wardrobe out that far in advance!) What about if you’re not here in lovely Richmond? Same applies. I’m easy to find, via this blog, Twitter, or via email (

And of course, don’t forget that you can also go straight to the top and ask SAA President Jackie Dooley a question by posting on SAA’s blog, Off the Record.  You knew SAA has a blog now, right?

Now I’ve got to get going and see if there’s anything left at the continental breakfast!


Extinction or Evolution? A slowed down version of my Smithsonian Ignite presentation

Right, so on Monday I gave an Ignite talk at a lovely event–IgniteSmithsonian–held at the National Museum of the American Indian and sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. I was, I think, the only archivist on the lineup and I was honored to be selected to represent a somewhat different perspective than the other presenters. There is a link to the full video on the event’s site (and soon I hope they will have edited it down so you can view the talks one by one), but I’d like to present a slightly different version of the talk here. It’s the same in the sense that you will see the same 20 images that audience saw. It’s different in that I’ll type what I would have said if I had been reading from prepared notes, instead of trying to remember what I wanted to say and say it in less than 15 seconds. Also, I’ll add some commentary for the archivist audience.

If you have the time, it’s worth it to watch the whole two hours or so of the event, but as I said, I hope that soon I can link to and highlight some specific talks that I think are particularly valuable for archivists. Or were particularly funny. Or poignant. Which really pretty much describes all the content. But for now, here are my slides along with a sort of director’s commentary–it’s a bit of a long post, so get yourself a beverage, some snacks, and strap in:

Continue reading “Extinction or Evolution? A slowed down version of my Smithsonian Ignite presentation”

The beginning of real change at NARA?

Last week, the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, released to the public (via his blog) the final report of the Archivist’s Task Force On Agency Transformation. Their report recommends significant changes in organizational structure and culture, characterized by “The Six Transformational Outcomes and Organizational Change.” Anyone with more than a passing interest in NARA should read the whole report.

In closing his blog post, Ferriero asks his readers (staff, researchers, and “citizen archivists”) “are you in?” I’m sure he’s gratified that so far 65 people have responded that they are. Many of those 65 are people I know and respect (including the illustrious Richard Cox), and I am sure their responses are sincere. So, am I “in”? Longtime readers of this blog (were you reading back in January 2008?) and people who knew me when I worked at NARA will know the answer to that question is yes (or perhaps more appropriately, “duh!”). So, yeah, I’m supportive, but I think the topic deserves a little more attention than a simple comment on his blog. Continue reading “The beginning of real change at NARA?”

I’d like to get my news about records implications of government social media use from the National Archives, not

This post is not a criticism of Mashable–I love them, and I’m very happy that someone is finally pointing out the relevance of the Presidential Records Act in regard to all the fuss we’ve seen about how the White House needs to preserve the comments they receive via social media. Here’s the Mashable story.

My point is that I am really hoping that when David Ferriero takes over as our new Archivist of the United States, he is willing and able to be an active public voice on archival issues like these. As soon as a story like this breaks–and they break more often than you’d think–I would like to see a quick coherent response from him that makes it into the media coverage of the story. I’m giving this post the category “leadership” because that’s one of things I’m really hoping we see Mr. (or is Dr.?) Ferriero bring to the National Archives, and by extension, to our profession. And maybe if we’re really lucky we’ll get a leader who understands social media too.


Which stands for “What Would Tim Gunn Do?” (If you’re not familiar with it, this is a adaptation of the popular “WWJD“.)

My friends know that I am huge fan of “Project Runway” and I’m thrilled that we’ve just started a new season. One of my favorite aspects of the show is the interaction of the designers with their mentor figure, the indescribable Tim Gunn. My Project Runway blogs tell me that the USA Today’s Weekend section will include a feature on Tim, and the online version includes some of the designers sharing what they learned from Tim:

Christian Siriano (winner, Season 4): “I had confidence, but he showed me how to be a little more humble in my work. He never said, ‘I don’t think it should be that.’ It was always, ‘It could be something else.’ It was always about what you could do to make it better.”

Chloe Dao (winner, Season 2): “What I got just by being around him is his level of generosity and how grounded he is.”

Nick Verreos (contestant, Season 2): “To try to conduct yourself with class and decency. And to be upfront with people, but not to be so personal in terms of getting into people’s characters.”

Christopher Straub (contestant, Season 6): “He told me to work on my design — don’t work on someone else’s, don’t try to please someone else — work on your own. It’s one of the most important things I’ve ever been told: ‘You need to find what your identity is and focus there.’ ”

Andrae Gonzalo (contestant, Season 2): “It’s always important to ask questions instead of making judgments.”

If you’re wondering what this has to do with archives, you can chalk this post up to my friend Terry over at the Beaver Archivist. This post isn’t an answer to his, but I read the thoughts of these designers right after Terry’s post, and I think that what they learned from Tim are lessons that we all probably wish we followed more often: ask questions instead of making judgments, find your own identity and focus there instead of trying to please someone else, conduct yourself with class and decency, be generous, and encourage others to do better. I know I don’t always live up to those kinds of ideals myself, but I think they are pretty good ones to shoot for.

I’ve joked on Twitter that I sometimes think I’m the Kathy Griffin (of “My Life on the D-List”) of archives, but I wished I were the Tim Gunn. I think the best I can hope for is somewhere in the middle. I don’t have an answer for you, Terry, but, as the great Ron Burgundy always said, “Stay classy!”

SAA Election Results

SAA has posted the results of the recent election on its Web site (but apparently this doesn’t rate an email announcement to the members . ..). Here are the results:

Helen Tibbo – Vice President / President-elect
Aimee Felker – Treasurer
Scott Cline, Tom Frusciano, Brenda Lawson, and Deborra Richardson – Council
Terry Baxter, Amy Cooper Cary, and Dan Santamaria – Nominating Committee

Continue reading “SAA Election Results”

My choices for future SAA leadership

On March 11 the virtual polls open for the Society of American Archivists’ annual election. After reading the 30 pages of information provided about the candidates, I’ve made my choices and decided who to endorse here on the blog.

For Vice President/President Elect-: Helen Tibbo
For Treasurer: Aimee Felker
For Council (Two-year Term): Brenda Lawson
For Council (Three-year Term): Scott Cline
For Nominating Committee: Terry Baxter, John LeGloahec, and Dan Santamaria

As always, an endorsement of any candidate is not intended as a criticism of his or her opponents. Everyone who volunteers to serve the profession in an elected capacity deserves our thanks and appreciation. I try to base the blog’s endorsements strictly on the information provided by SAA about the candidates (with a few exceptions, which are noted). I provide my analysis and endorsements to my readers as a service for those who are on the fence and can’t decide or who just don’t have the time to scrutinize the candidate information the way I do. I hope some people find it useful.

Below the jump, I’ll provide background for my choices. But, please, readers, don’t forget to vote! It’s even easier this year–the first that SAA has gone electronic. And I hope you’ll agree with my choices and help give these candidates the ArchivesNext bump. (I aim to become the Stephen Colbert of the archives world!)

Continue reading “My choices for future SAA leadership”