“this is really going to make a very serious difference for me”

As I said on Twitter and Facebook, last night I sent out 32 messages informing people that they’d been awarded Spontaneous Scholarships. But I also told people who hadn’t heard from me yet not to despair–I’m still waiting for some checks to come in the mail and I’m hoping to be able to pull some more names off the waiting list. It’s still not too late to donate if you haven’t already. The Paypal link is still active and if you want to put a check in the mail, just let me know.

Every year the people who receive help because of your donations tell me how much they appreciate it. Here’s part of a message I received this morning:

 As someone who is paid $9.00/hr, this is really going to make a very serious difference for me. I think that what you are doing is a really great thing for the archival community, and I’m thrilled to have won.

I’ll post full stats on this year’s campaign after it looks like we’re completely wrapped up, but for now thanks to all the generous donors who have helped make a difference.


Donate toward or apply for a Spontaneous Scholarship by June 29

SAA @NOLA 2005 was where I narrowly passed the CA exam, ate beignets for the first time, and . . .

A donor fondly remembered his or her last trip to New Orleans in a lovely note sent in with a check .(I can’t include the funny part as this may give away the identity, but I hope this fate doesn’t befall you if you are visiting New Orleans this year.)

This is the last week.

If you want to throw your name into the hat to have your registration for this year’s SAA Annual Meeting in New Orleans reimbursed (SAA members–regular and student–and student non-members only), the deadline is this Saturday, June 29. If you want to donate, I’ll keep taking your money after the 30th, but it would be great if I could get everything in as soon as possible so I know how much money there is to give out. Again, more information is here if you need it: http://archivesnext.com/?p=2775. We have about $3,500 at the moment and 56 names in the hat so far.



Dramatic change to NARA’s mission in new strategic plan?

The National Archives and Records Administration has issued a draft of its Strategic Plan for FY 2014-2019 for public comment (comments due June 28, which is not a lot of time).

I’m just reading through it now for the first time and am struck by the change in the description of NARA’s mission from the existing plan to this one:

From the 2009 Strategic Plan:

The National Archives and Records Administration serves American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage.We ensure continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. We support democracy, promote civic education, and facilitate historical understanding of our national experience

From the current draft:

NARA drives openness, cultivates public participation, and strengthens our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value government records

That’s quite a shift in emphasis, wouldn’t you say? Nothing there about preservation, although perhaps the authors think that’s implied. And “high-value” records? I suppose that’s thought to be an improvement over lengthier descriptions of the qualities of records makes them worthy of preservation, but that seems like a very clumsy way to describe it.

This certainly reflects a shift to try to make the archives appear more action-oriented, rather than a passive custodian, but I think something may have been lost along the way. What about you, any thoughts on the “as-is” and proposed “to-be”?



Spontaneous Scholarship update: applicants steady, donations lagging

I had a feeling that donations haven’t been coming in as generously as they did last year, and this morning I confirmed it. Here’s my post from the half-way point last year. Sorry, no drawings of happy people this year. To sum up, we are halfway through the Spontaneous Scholarship drive for this year and numbers are down. At this point last year 44 people had donated. This year so far 28 people have donated. Last year we had raised $3,538 at the halfway point. This year, only $2,370.

On the other hand, this time last year there were 19 student names in the hat and 24 “regulars.” This year it’s 22 students and 19 regulars. So demand is just about where it was, but funding is lagging.

If there’s anything you can do to help encourage more donations, I would appreciate it. As always, if you can afford it and haven’t donated yet, contact me if you need my address to mail a check or hit the “donate” button on the sidebar.

If you need a scholarship, please don’t let this gloomy message stop you from throwing your name into the hat. We still have money to give away and I’m sure we’ll have more come in before the end of June!

Archives and innovation, or, how I’m spending my summer and (and early fall)

You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here (and on Twitter). So, here’s a update.

It can’t possibly have escaped your attention if you follow this blog that I’m editing a series of four books for Scarecrow press, each a compilation of case studies on an area of archival practice: outreach, reference and access, description, and management. Each book will contain ~12ish case studies, so what I am doing and have been doing is lining those up and reviewing drafts.

In addition to that, like the ambitious/crazy person that I am, I want to add something of value to each book that speaks to the meaning of “innovation” in archives and to the development of “innovation” in that area of practice. Will I actually be able to do that? Who knows. But it’s my goal. My tentative outline now for my introduction is:

  • What do we mean when we talk about innovation?
  • Is there a history of innovation in archives/spec coll in US?
  • What has the development of this area looked like? Have there been past periods of innovation? (Based on analysis of past 40 SAA annual meeting programs & literature review)
  • Overview of case studies and why they represent innovation.

As I said, this might not work out, and it certainly might not end up looking anything like that outline! But as you might imagine, if I really do try to explore the development of each of those four areas of practice in any depth, I’m going to have a pretty hectic summer ahead of me.  So if you see odd tweets about literature from the past or titles of sessions from SAA annual meetings of the ’70s, ’80’s, ’90’s, 00’s, and 10’s, that’s what that’s about.

Wish me luck! (Oh, and don’t forget to make your donation–applicants are flowing in but donations have slowed . . . )


Spontaneous Scholarships: Week one update

After one week, you’ve donated close to $1,000! Which sounds like a lot of money (well, it is a lot of money), but in the first week we’ve also had 13 students and 10 “regular” SAA members throw their names into that for funding–that’s $4,997 worth of names in the hat. And those names will keep on coming in over the next two weeks. (Please, keep them coming in!) So if you haven’t already donated, please kick something in, even if you can’t afford very much. There’s a big “Donate” button right there on the right hand sidebar. Or contact me for  the mailing address to send a check.

If you missed the launch, here’s the post that explains the Spontaneous Scholarships–how to give and how to apply.

Thanks to everyone who’s been so generous so early. I hope to see the donations keep coming in for the rest of June!


Spontaneous Scholarships for 2013 SAA Annual Meeting: How to give, how to apply

Or, Spontaneous Scholarships III (insert Rocky III “Eye of the Tiger” music here). Here’s the drill, which is essentially the same as it was for the past two years.

What is this about?

We’re giving money to people to fund their registration for the SAA Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Rather than pay for travel or lodging for a few people, I’m trying to give a little bit of help to as many people as possible. This is not affiliated with SAA in any way. Your donations are not tax deductible. It’s simple. You send me money. I give it all away within a few weeks to colleagues who need it.  In 2011 this campaign ran for two weeks and 94 generous people gave scholarships to 26 happy people.  In 2012, over four weeks we had 103 donors  fund 34 people. This year I hope we can continue to have those numbers climb.

How you can help

If you want to give, you have several options, outlined below. My preference is for checks because that means PayPal transaction fees aren’t deducted from your donation, but I know it’s easier to click and donate while you’re thinking of it, so by all means, click and donate if that’s easier for you. Here are your options:

  • Pay by check– email me (info [@] archivesnext.com or my regular email if you have it) or leave a comment (for which you must supply an email). I will reply with a mailing address. Or if you are an SAA member, you can look up my address in the member directory.
  • Pay via PayPal–click on the “Donate” button at top right of the sidebar.
  • Pay via credit card–send me an email and I’ll send you an invoice using PayPal.

Give as much as you feel you can. Every little bit helps. Don’t feel like whatever you can afford to give isn’t enough. But if you’re fortunate enough to be in a comfortable position, please give generously.

How to put your name in the hat for scholarship

If you need help funding your SAA Annual Meeting registration, please send a message to info [@] archivesnext.com providing your name, and whether you are a student or regular SAA member (note you must be an SAA member to be eligible). Please do so by midnight on Saturday, June 29. On Sunday, June 30 I will draw names out of a hat and notify the lucky people. This will allow you to register by the early-bird deadline of July 5. Once you forward me the confirmation of your registration, I will send you a check.

(One note based on last year’s experience. Last year there were a surprisingly large number of people whose names got pulled from the hat who backed out because they hadn’t realized how high the other costs of attending the meeting would be. Which was fine in the long run. I just gave the money away to people on the waiting list, but it caused quite a hassle for me. So I understand that things happen and your plans could change, but please do a bit of homework first and make sure you think you really can attend the conference before you apply.)

That said, all you need to do to apply is email me with the information listed about. That’s it. It’s on the honor system. Don’t ask unless you need, but if you need, ask. This isn’t just for students and new archivists, it’s for everybody.

Which is why I’m asking you now to give, if you can. And why I’ll keep asking until June 29. Please share this through your own networks. (Goodness knows I will!) And if you need some help, throw your name into the virtual hat!

Next up for Archivists Reading Group: The Levy Report (if you don’t know what that is, you should)

I’m excited to say that the next reading over on the Archivists Reading Together blog will be a report commissioned by SAA and published in 1984, The Image of Archivists: Resource Allocaters’ Perceptions, commonly referred to as “The Levy Report.” It’s about 60 pages long and is available as a PDF on the SAA website: http://www2.archivists.org/sites/all/files/Image-of-Archivists-Levy1984.pdf

I haven’t read it, although it gets referred to quite often so I’m looking forward to it. This seems a timely topic to return to, although I expect we will find that unfortunately not much has changed in the world since 1984. But perhaps I am being too pessimistic. So please join in  over on that site, beginning around June 21 for a discussion of the Levy Report.

Please share your “Summer Tips for Visiting Archives” on AHA blog

I was asked to share my thoughts for today’s post on the AHA blog, “Summer Tips for Visiting Archives.” As you might expect, my thoughts were voluminous, but most of my recommendations made it into the post. I hope you’ll add anything that’s missing by posting a comment over on the AHA site. I’m glad to see them sharing this kind of content as well as recognizing that “Archivists are highly trained professionals, not just goody-retrieval machines, and should be seen and treated as partners in your research.”

A Twitter colleague observed that he thought I might get into trouble with the academics for suggesting that an archivist will be more skilled at locating information in his or her own collections than an outside researcher. Time will tell if I get castigated in the comments, but I am willing to defend the professional skills and knowledge of (most of) my colleagues. If a researcher clearly explains what s/he is looking for and the archivist is experienced and knowledgeable about the collections, I’ll give the archivist the advantage.

But, please take a look the post over on the AHA blog and share your advice for researchers there.

Joint project with HistoryPin: “Hurricane Sandy: Record, Remember, Rebuild”

SAA wants to get the word out about this great project, and I’m happy to help. Please pass along to anyone and everyone who might want to participate:

Today a collaborative history project to document the impact of Hurricane Sandy on communities and neighborhoods in the Caribbean and United States was launched by Historypin, with support from Google, the Society of American Archivists, the American Association for State and Local History, and the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

Historypin is a non-profit public history project that brings people together to explore and share history through photographs, stories, and audio and video recordings.  Anyone can upload content to the Historypin map, pin it to the location and date on which it was taken, and overlay it on Street View to create a world map that can be explored through time.

According to Jon Voss, Historypin Strategic Partnerships Director, “At Historypin, where we seek to build community around local history, we hope to contribute in some small way to Hurricane Sandy recovery by providing a place online to share photos and recollections of how things were before, during, and after the storm.  We know that archives, libraries, and museums play a critical role in preserving cultural and community memory, and we’re delighted that SAA is joining us in this effort.”  Read Voss’s blog post here.

Historypin invites individuals, communities, and local archives to share photographs, videos, and memories, with the goal of creating a rich record of life in communities and neighborhoods affected by the storm, a space to share memories, and a place to chronicle the re-building efforts.  View Historypin’s “Getting Started Guide” and YouTube video.

“We’re especially delighted to be working with Historypin, Google, and others to document the impact of Hurricane Sandy,” said SAA President Jackie Dooley.  “This collaboration matches Historypin’s unique capacity to build community around local history with archivists’ compelling interest in ensuring the completeness, diversity, and accessibility of the historical record.  Good things will result from working together!”

If you have material relating to Hurricane Sandy or historical photographs of neighborhoods damaged by the storm, please consider contributing content to this project.  Contact Rebekkah Abraham, Historypin Content Manager, at rebekkah.abraham@wearewhatwedo.org.