Conference presentation post-mortem the second

Photograph of a sun-dappled stone path.
A sun-dappled path at Portland’s Japanese Garden.
I believe I consistently and correctly used the microphone throughout.1 I have not checked the recording to confirm; I am unfond of my voice, and I was there so I don’t really need to listen to the panel again. Though if you weren’t there, Teressa Raiford is most definitely worth listening to, both from a content and presentation perspective.

I had vague intentions to do a more extensive write-up of the conference, but currently lack the time/energy. Let’s just say that I’m glad I went, I’m grateful for currently enjoying institutional support for professional development, I approved of recurring themes of the conference (including the Liberated Archives Forum), and I feel some cautious optimism about the direction of the profession.2


  1. I was on a panel at the Liberated Archives Forum on the last day of SAA’s annual meeting, #ArchivesForBlackLives: Archivists Respond to Black Lives Matter, with Celia Caust-Ellenborgen, Faith Charlton, and Teressa Raiford. I doubt we’ll do anything with slides but, like most of the panels, there’s an audio recording. 
  2. Optimism largely driven by comments from all-too-rare archivists of color; caution largely driven by innate pragmatism and all-too-common data points like the most recent flare-up on #thatdarnlist. (I don’t subscribe and neither should you.) 
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Comment on proposed standards for public service metrics

Earlier this summer, the SAA-ACRL/RBMS Joint Task Force on the Development of Standardized Statistical Measures for Public Services in Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries drafted proposed standards for public service metrics. If you’re an archivist, librarian, or other interested party, please do take a look and offer feedback.

The document and directions for submitting comments are posted on the SAA and RBMS websites. The comment period closes on August 22.

Conscientious meetings

Jeremy Brett has a post on the Issues & Advocacy blog, “A Case of Conscience,” suggesting that SAA take steps to avoid holding annual meetings in states that pass discriminatory legislation.

I’m in agreement, including with Brett’s anger and idealism and the impulse to be able to pick up balls and go home. I suspect the logistics of picking up balls might be more challenging than a conscience clause; though I haven’t done it, I know hotel negotiations are complicated. But even if an event has to go forward there’s the possibility of pulling future business—and, perhaps, thinking Very Carefully about future business in states that seem likely to introduce discriminatory legislation. Kind of like the Voting Rights Act (1965–2013) for convention planning.

Somewhat queasy-making, from my perspective, is the prospect that chunks of the profession don’t agree with the position that this type of legislation is wrong. (Our reputation might be kind of lefty, but that doesn’t really mean much. I wouldn’t be surprised if some archivists find trans urine as terrifying as North Carolina legislators do. Though really, there are so many more terrifying things in restrooms.) Then there’s also the it’s-political-and-the-organization-isn’t argument, which I associate with folks coming from a place of unexamined privilege and/or hewing to strict process arguments but can also, I suppose, come from other places. But from an organizational policy perspective, I think this is the money quote that answers those arguments and personal bias:

Nor as a professional organization should we be tacitly granting second-class citizenship to our LGBT members, which we would be doing by giving our dollars and our time to a state or municipality that choses to wage war against a minority group.

If you have opinions, there’s an I&A Roundtable Poll open until April 8. Do stop by, whether you’re a member of the organization and profession or not.