Help a librarian/archivist raise money to help elephants

Posted on behalf of Jessica Fisher. As my Twitter and Facebook friends know, I am always happy to help anyone who is trying to help animals. Go, Jessica!

I am a Librarian/Archivist in NYC and I recently signed on to make tracks for elephants at the WCS Run for the Wild at the Bronx Zoo. I would be very grateful if you could support my fundraising efforts with a tax-deductible donation. Your support will go a long way in helping me to protect imperiled elephants and the places they call home. To make a donation online, simply click on the link at the bottom of this message. If you would prefer, you can also send your contribution to the following address:

WCS Run for the Wild
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10460

Assistance, please: sources in archives and special collections literature?

I’ve got a project in the offing for which I need to conduct some comprehensive literature reviews. I think I’m familiar with the journals that cover archives, but I am less confident about the sources for special collections. I also, of course, may be forgetting something obvious. So I once again ask for your assistance. In addition to the list below, what other journals (or publications or conferences or online sources) should I be looking at? (This review will address only developments in the U.S., so although I’m not limiting myself to sources published in the U.S. I do want to focus on sources which will have authors from the U.S.)


  • The American Archivist
  • Archivaria
  • Journal of Archival Organization
  • Archival Science
  • Archival Issues
  • Archival Outlook
  • College and Research Libraries
  • College and Research Libraries News
  • RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage

Online Publications

Conferences (primarily looking for those for which presentation materials may be available online or for which proceedings are published):

  • SAA Annual Meeting
  • RBMS Preconference
  • ACA Annual Meetings
  • Museums and the Web (I’ve seen some presentations on archives topics there)

I know there must be others. Any suggestions?


Call for case study proposals on innovative practices in description and management in archives and special collections

As I announced earlier in the call for case studies on outreach and reference, I have signed on to edit a series of books for Scarecrow Press highlighting innovative practices in archives.

Now, I’m collecting proposals for case studies for the volumes on description and management. [UPDATE: Note that these are two separate books, not one!] If you want to propose a case study, just send me a few paragraphs with a brief description of the problem you set out to solve or the opportunity you wanted to take advantage of, a detailed description of how you responded, and a brief description of your results or findings. Please also include the name of the repository, and your job title. Proposals are due by Wednesday, March 20. The final case studies should be about 5,500 words and you will be provided with a structure to follow.

As I said in the call regarding outreach and reference, don’t be intimidated by that word “innovative.” Sometimes we have a tendency to think what we do isn’t that special or unique. Rather than fixate on whether or not what you did was “innovative,” if you’ve implemented something in your archives or special collections library that you think is effective and other people would be interested in, please send me a proposal.

In addition to this open call, I will also be soliciting case study proposals, so if you know of a person or project that you think would be good to include in these volumes, please let me know about it so that I can follow up. Case study institutions are not limited to any specific type of archives or special collections, and are not limited to the U.S. only.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them here on this post or via email. Please send any questions, proposals or suggestions for me  to follow up on to me at kate.theimer [@]


Get in touch with me today if you want to propose a case study for outreach or reference book

Today is the deadline to get your proposals in if you have a case study you’d like considered for inclusion in either the book on outreach or reference in archives and special collections (full info here and here). I said “get in touch with me” in the title of this post because while today is the deadline, if for some reason you’re just hearing about this and need an extra day or two, I can give you some slack but I need you to send me a message letting me to expect something from you.

A similar call for case studies for a book on description will be coming shortly, followed by another for case studies on management in archives and special collections. Also as I mentioned on Twitter, after I get all the proposals in for outreach I may decide to do a separate book specifically on outreach to students (K-12, undergrad, and graduate). I think there’s enough demand for it even though there have been some recent publications in that area. If I do that I’ll issue a second call, just to give everyone a fair chance.

Thanks for all the great proposals so far. One of the reasons I agreed to take on this assignment is that it would give me a chance to learn about and promote all the great, and often unrecognized, work that’s going on out there. And if there’s a topic out there that you think would be a good fit for another book in this series, let me know. Digitization is a possibility, as is appraisal/acquisition. Do those sound good? What else would you like to see?

What do I mean by “reference”?

Thanks to the many people who have already sent in case study proposals or questions in response to the call for proposals for books on innovative best practices in outreach and reference in archives and special collections. However, I’m concerned that so far everyone has been interested in contributing only to the outreach book. None for the reference book. I noted this on Twitter and got a reply from someone who said she wasn’t sure what I meant by “reference.”

So, to aid in understanding and perhaps to inspire some people, here’s how I’m scoping reference (for the purposes of this book, not being proposed as a formal definition):

  • Receiving reference requests, that is, questions from users about the content of the collections
  • Tracking and managing the process of receiving and responding to requests
  • Conducting a “reference interview” to clarify user needs, either on site or online
  • Responding to requests, including ways of delivering relevant content
  • Providing access to materials to offsite users through services like interlibrary loan or virtual reading rooms
  • Internal or external knowledge management used to aid in providing reference assistance (such as the creation of ready reference collections or FAQ resources)
  • Facilitating knowledge transfer about collections between staff, including between experienced and new staff or between processing and reference staff

I am also including managing the research room in the Reference book, so activities such as:

  • Registering researchers and providing them with an overview of the archives and its policies
  • Developing, updating and sharing research room policies (including activities such as the use of scanners and digital cameras)
  • Providing access to collections
  • Determining when and how to restrict access to collections
  • Maintaining security in the reading room

It’s possible you would prefer these activities lumped together under “reference and access” rather than just “reference.” I tend to use the latter to cover all activities that support providing access to collections. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some embarrassingly obvious part of the process, so if I have, please let me know. That’s not intended as an exhaustive list, rather an example of what I’m looking for in the case studies. I hope that’s helpful.

There was also a question on Twitter about why I separated reference and outreach into two different categories, since providing reference is seen as a form of outreach to some. I agree, in a larger sense, that every contact with the public is a potential outreach opportunity. However I see a clear difference between activities generated by users knowing they want access to collections (reference) and activities in which the archivist is trying to increase public awareness of the collection (outreach). There are many ways to categorize activities, but this is the way it makes sense to me.

So again, I hope to see many interesting case study proposals for “innovative” (that is, useful and current) practices in both reference and outreach in archives and special collections. As you might expect, I’m happy to receive case studies that including uses of technology (such as chat, Facebook, wikis, YouTube, blogs, Drupal, Omeka, Pinterest, Tublr, etc.), but some challenges are just as easily addressed using modified practices or low-tech solutions. The deadline is January 31. If you have a question or need clarification, please feel free to ask.


Two days left.

I can’t imagine anyone who wants to apply for a Spontaneous Scholarship or donate to help others hasn’t done it already, but just in case you are a chronic procrastinator, you really need to do it now. As I’ve said, I’ll keep taking donations even after the 30th, so feel free to mail in your check if that’s what you want to do. I’ll also leave the Donate button up on the blog for a few more days.

I’m happy to say that the members of the Students and New Archives Professionals (SNAP) Roundtable of SAA donated more than $2,000 and so the Very Generous Donor will match this with a $2,000 of his/her own. This gives us a current total of $7,369.48. So far 35 people have asked for help with registration at the regular SAA member rate and 30 have asked for help at the student rate. This means we would need $15,339 to fund everyone.

The goal isn’t to fund everyone, of course, but I’d still like to help as many people as possible. We have a lot more “regular” members asking for help this year than last year, and funding them is much more expensive. So, for the last time in 2012, please give if you can and if you still want to throw your name into the hat for a scholarship, you must do so before the stroke of midnight on June 30.

Thanks to everyone who has given so far. Your generosity means a lot to those who will get scholarships, but I’m told that just knowing that other professionals care enough to do something like this means a lot to those who don’t get selected.  Thank you for making this possible.

UPDATE: The Very Generous Donor has volunteered to keep matching any additional SNAP donations that come in! Thank you, VGD! 

Want to help create a U.S. chapter of Archivists Without Borders?

You’ve probably already seen this on an email listserv, but just in case:

Apology for Cross Posting

Dear colleagues:

We are drafting a proposal to form a U.S. chapter of Archivists Without Borders and would like to invite you to participate in the process. If you are interested in joining a working group to comment on the proposal, please send your name and e-mail address to Amanda Strauss (

Archivists Without Borders is an international organization, the primary objective of which is “cooperation in the sphere of archives work in countries whose documentary heritage is in danger of disappearing or of suffering irreversible damage, with particular emphasis on the protection of human rights.” To read more about Archivists Without Borders, International, please see the website:

We believe that forming a U.S. chapter of Archivists Without Borders is important. Not only will it allow us to participate in and support international projects, but it will also serve as an official network for advocacy and projects to support endangered archives and underrepresented communities in the United States.

We hope that you will consider joining us in this effort. Please let us know if you have any questions.


Mario H. Ramirez (

Joel Blanco-Rivera (

Amanda Strauss (

Jasmine Jones (

Erin Faulder (


Two new SAA awards–Emerging Leader and Archival Innovator–I know you know some people/projects who qualify

This year SAA has two brand new awards that I’m very excited about because I think they provide an effective upgrade and replacement for the two awards I’ve sponsored on this blog, the Best Archives on the Web and Movers & Shakers in Archives awards. I always hoped that eventually SAA would offer awards in these areas, and now that they have the Emerging Leader and Archival Innovator awards, I think ArchivesNext can retire from the field of awards.

So, first things first, the deadline for nominations for both is February 28, so you have to get moving on this.

The Emerging Leader award (brought forward and championed by SAA President Gregor Trinkaus-Randall) has the following purpose and criteria:

Created in 2011, this award celebrates and encourages early-career archivists who have completed archival work of broad merit, demonstrated significant promise of leadership, and/or performed commendable service to the archives profession.  Nominees will have more than two years and less than ten years of professional archives experience. Nominees must be SAA members and must meet as many of the following criteria as possible:

  • Work of merit that has made a substantive contribution to an area (or areas) of the archives profession beyond the nominee’s local institution and that holds promise for future contributions.
  • Demonstrated leadership through collaborative work or exemplary service to local, regional, and/or national archival and cultural associations.
  • Formal archival education through a graduate degree program in history, library science, information science, or a related field; through participation in an archival or preservation institute; and/or through certification by the Academy of Certified Archivists.
  • Involvement in successful outreach and advocacy efforts on behalf of the nominee’s institution and the archives profession.

Full information on the Emerging Leader Award is available here.

The Archival Innovator award (proposed, with love, by me) has the following purpose and criteria:

Created in 2011, this award recognizes an individual archivist, a group of archivists, a repository, or an organization that demonstrates, through a combination of as many as possible of the criteria below, the greatest overall current impact on the profession or their communities.

  • Creativity or innovation in approaching professional challenges.
  • Demonstrated ability to think outside of professional or institutional norms.
  • Ability to translate creativity, innovation, and new thinking into working solutions.
  • Development of an archives program or outreach activity that has an extraordinary impact on a community.
  • Commitment to the advancement of professional knowledge through traditional or emerging information-sharing media.

Complete information about the Archival Innovator Award is available here.

I know time is short and I apologize for not posting this earlier, but you still have enough time to put nominations together. The people who deserve these awards are doing great work and should be recognized and celebrated. Please make the work of the awards committee difficult and send in some great nominations.

An official blog hiatus

The posts have been coming more slowly lately and I’ve decided it’s a good time to put the blog on an official hiatus until the new year. I’ve got some stuff to sort out, including a few possibilities for new projects and I need to figure out how this blog might figure in next year’s work plan. Also I need to write next year’s work plan.

So, enjoy your Thanksgiving and whatever holidays you choose to celebrate in December, and imbibe carefully on New Year’s Eve. If you want to keep up with me, you can find me on Twitter (@archivesnext) to which I am sadly addicted.

Thanks for all your support in 2011 and see you in 2012!



Occupy Wall Street Archival Project

For those not following me on Twitter, here’s a link to a great project started by an archives grad student, the Occupy Wall Street Archival Project, which will gather documentation of the movement for the collections of the Tamiment Library at NYU. They’re looking for others to help, so if you’re willing and able, I hope you’ll follow up.