SAA Annual Meeting 2019

This year only two members of SCRC were able to attend the SAA Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. This meeting in particular was a fiery one to say the least. Without further ado, here are our Director’s impressions of the 2019 Annual Meeting!

Lynn Eaton – Director

Tacos = Austin.

From August 1 – August 6, archivists from around the world descended on Austin, TX to participate in the annual Society of American Archivists (SAA) business meeting. This yearly gathering allows the members to share information in formal and informal settings. It’s also great fun to meet new people and see old colleagues and friends, and learn new skills and ways to work with the archival materials we hold. All in all, it’s an excellent – if tiring! – event.

Old and new Austin.

Arriving on Thursday, August 1st, I spent the afternoon with other managers brainstorming ideas and topics for future educational sessions targeting management. On Friday, I spent the morning at the 13th Annual Research Forum learning about new initiatives, transformative practices, and studies. Topics included a study on how contemporary veterans document their lives, and how archives will be able to save their words and photos, as well as how contemporary archivists are describing current and older archival collections with “conscious editing.”

This is an image of a document with backlight that came on intermittently to show the watermark of a document. Cool!

That afternoon I walked to the Harry Ransom Center to get a behind-the-scenes tour of their exhibit space and preparation areas, and discuss the ins and outs of archival exhibits with about 20 other archivists. That particular meeting is a great example of why I think this conference is so important: learning from your peers through talking face to face about how we are doing similar things, often quite differently, with perhaps similar but always distinctive situations.

These discussions continued throughout the section meetings and educational sessions, and naturally continued over lunches, dinners, walks to see the bats, and generous helpings of Amy’s ice cream. I had in-depth discussions with former colleagues about the technicalities of processing large collections, working with the archival management program ArchivesSpace, development ideas, and different ways to reach out to students, among many others.

I also met a number of new archivists by participating in the Navigator program, which matches up conference veterans with first-time attendees. As a conference veteran, with almost 20 SAAs under my belt, I shared some advice on the conference, and hopefully helped some of the newer archivists feel a bit more welcomed. I was so impressed with my navigatees, and look forward to seeing their progress in the future!

Two of SCRC’s members presented at the conference. Our Manuscripts and Archives Librarian Liz Beckman gave an inspiring presentation on “Supporting and advocating for student workers and interns.” Our summer intern, Jared Nistler, co-presented on his graduate research with a poster presentation of “A quantitative approach to the status of the magnetic media crisis: from hoping to knowing” (Hyperlinked). The study is shockingly informative about our current AV migration crisis in archives.

Liz and Jared in front of his poster.

I greatly appreciate the support the George Mason University Libraries provides for professional development. Actively participating in conferences at the regional and national level allows me the ability to keep up with emerging trends in the archival world, connecting with peers, and bringing back the information to share with the rest of SCRC. I also appreciate that most of our staff stayed back in Fairfax providing researchers access to our collections, preparing exhibits, managing students, and continuing on grant projects. We’ll meet as a staff to discuss the conference, what we learned, and ways to access the meetings we were not able to attend.

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