Write Way Breakfast, Disasters, Archival Value and Cooking Oh My!!!!

Friday August 5 in Hot Atlanta. For full disclosure this was a long day, so the post is very very long.

Write Away Breakfast

Friday morning was supposed to start at 7:30 with the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable. My plan was to stop for a few minutes before heading to the Write Away Breakfast. Well, the ball game ran late and the Rook had trouble getting out of the bed. So, I missed the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable, but I did make it to the Write Away Breakfast for 8 am sharp.

First up to speak at the breakfast was Greg Hunter, who is the editor of the American Archivist Journal.  Hunter is looking for peer reviewers to review submitted articles and provide feedback to the authors. Three people review each article, so you do not have to worry about keeping someone from reaching tenure. Since no experience is needed, the Rook signed up to be a peer reviewer. Also, in the fall a new system (I believed it was called the Alan System) will be go live that will allow people to submit articles and volunteer to be a peer reviewer.

Next up was Bethany Anderson who is the Reviews Editor. SAA is looking for people to review archival products and software. For example, I am doing a review of DuraCloud. My review is a work in progress, but the editors are helping me make progress. Now, sometimes it does not seem like progress is being made, but I assure you progress is being made.

Christopher Prom, who is the Publications Editor, spoke about the SAA book publishing program. He talked about writing books, modules and case studies. He mentioned that SAA works with the author in making the work the best that it can be. More in a few minutes.

Abigail Christian spoke about Archival Outlook and In the Loop. Archival Outlook is SAA’s magazine that is published six times a year and In the Loop is the biweekly e-newsletter. They are always looking for people to submit items.

At the end of the breakfast, I spoke to Christopher Prom. I was just going to introduce myself and mention that I read a lot of his work while in grad school at LSU in Baton Rouge. He noticed that I had my big name badge with me that had a ribbon on it that said that I was a speaker. So, Prom asked what I presented on. So, I told him about my presentation on providing access to collections for people with disabilities. In the process of me talking about my presentation, Hunter passes and says that sounds like a good Module. Prom agreed with Hunter. So, Prom and I are going to speak about turning the presentation into a Module.

For full disclosure, that is all of my notes from the Write Away Breakfast. I am sure I missed something.

Rethinking Disasters Session #308

The first session I went to was Rethinking Disasters. It was a great session even though the topic is a gloomy topic, but I got a lot out of it.

First, ProjectARCC got a shout out. This is a group of archivist responding to climate change. The SAA Council approved a brief on Archives and the Environment. The Council worked with ProjectARCC in drafting the statement. Now back to the session.

The first topic of discussion was climate change. One presenter brought up the question of “How does climate change affect our profession as well as our collections?” Will we be able to protect our collections from weather related events as well as human made disasters? We have to take steps now in order to protect our collections. There have been talk in regards to climate change on the coast, but what about in the mountain areas such as the Rockies. Climate change is not just occurring on the coast.

The second topic of discussion dealt with disaster planning. One presenter brought up the fact that we focus on disaster planning for our paper based materials and artifacts, but what about our digital collections. We cannot forget to create a digital disaster plan. Another point that was brought up in this session was that we need to practice our disaster plan in order to make sure everyone knows what to do. Lack of knowledge of what to do during a disaster as well as what is in our collections can delay our disaster response.  What good is our disaster plan if we cannot implement it?

After a disaster strikes supplies will be limited. So it’s important to have supplies on hand. One presenter provided an example to illustrate this point. After a disaster you will need clean water in order to clean your collections as well as to drink in order to stay hydrated, but this resource may be limited. So you will have to choose between staying hydrated or cleaning the collections. The point of the example was to make sure you have some supplies ready and not wait till after the disaster to gather supplies.

One point that was made in this session as well as in my Disaster Planning workshop I attended back in April was to educate first responders regarding what is in your collection.

In creating a disaster plan talk with people from other repositories to see what types of disasters they have experienced as well as how they handled them. We can learn from each other instead of reinventing the wheel. Also, talk to people who know what they are doing before you throw things away or do anything. Lack of experience handling material may cause additional damage to the material.

Other things that was mentioned included: remember you cannot save everything, we have to plan but stay flexible, and we cannot assume that a disaster will not visit us in the future.

Remember in any disaster, the safety of people comes before the safety of our collections.

Beyond Measure: Telling the Story of Archival Value Session 303

Since I went to the disaster planning session, I will have to listen to the recording of Session 303 Beyond Measure: Telling the Story of Archival Value. I heard that this session was great. I followed this session on Twitter as I was listening to the disaster planning session.  Below are some of the Tweets about Beyond Measure: Telling the Story of Archival Value.

-Provide more examples and less definitions.

-Engage with the community to show value.

-What are the archival values beyond measure?

-Need to focus more on the extrinsic values that cannot necessarily be measured.

-Storytelling allows us to demonstrate the value of archives beyond what we can measure.

-Need less definitions and more real life examples to show and advocate our archival value.

-How do we communicate value beyond what can be measured?

Session 402 Recipes from Culinary Collections: Creative (and Tasty!) Approaches to Outreach

The next session that I went to was Session 402 Recipes from Culinary Collections: Creative (and Tasty!) Approaches to Outreach. I picked this session because I thought the title was interesting and I like to cook. NEA’s very own Pamela Hopkins presented during this session.

This session reminded me of Dinner with a Curator at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The Museum provides guests a dinner as well as presents on a topic from the war. For example, I went to one Dinner with a Curator that discussed how the Allies helped saved the Cultural Heritage Sites and Artwork during World War II. The talked focuses on the Allies efforts in Italy. The food that was served during the presentation was food that you would find in Italy.

Repositories can use food to introduce their community to collections found in the repository. They can also feature a recipe from collections on a blog post. Some advice on doing food events were given. The advice included: have one or two goals you would like to achieve, keep it simple, be flexible, and most important have fun.

Two things that I got out of this session are that we need to highlight collections that match the interest of our community and we need to find ways to introduce our collections to people in a non overpowering way.

After this session, it was off to lunch in the Exhibit Hall as well as to see what vendors came to the conference. Then I went to the Museum Archive Roundtable.

Presidential Speech

Later that day, I listened to Dennis Meissner’s Presidential Speech. He touched on a lot of different things. He said that we needed to focus on practicing inclusion instead of trying to define it. The process of inclusion starts internal not external.  Just in case we needed a definition he told us that inclusion was the set of tools that we can use to reach the goal of diversity.

He walked us through the stages of cultural competency and told us that we should not be ashamed of the stage we are currently at. Everyone has room for improvement. The first step in solving a problem is knowing the problem exist.

He asked us to review our hiring practices and policies to make sure they were not hindering the goal of achieving a diverse workforce? Are our job ads written in a way that keep underrepresented populations from applying for archival jobs?

He also mentioned that he felt that the archival profession is not good at explaining why we do the things we do. In other words, we are good at explaining the what but not the why. We need to advocate better for our repositories. He also mentioned that we need to use stories in order to explain the value of archives to our community.


Next came the awards ceremony. Following that was the reception at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the World of CocaCola. The Civil and Human Rights Museum was very inspiring. The World of CocaCola was one enormous commercial. I had a great time at the reception. Yes, just so you know I did in fact wear my yellow pants.

Written By: Blake E Relle



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