October is American Archives Month. Stay tuned for more blog posts and event announcements soon!
Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a great start to Fall semester. My name is Rita and I’m super excited to be on the 2017-2018 web team for the SAA SJSU student chapter.
For my first post, I thought I would talk about international archives, primarily focusing on Canadian archives. Hopefully, this will provide some insight to those of you considering working in archives or special collections outside of the United States.
This past summer, I had the privilege of attending a two-week long study abroad program in Canada (specifically Ottawa and Montreal) hosted by the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. In this course, we focused on Canadian archival organization and description, while analyzing the differences between Canadian and American archival practice. In addition to attending lectures, we visited a number of archival institutions, ranging from governmental to academic to community-based archives. Among them, my personal favorites were the Library and Archives Canada, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, the Jewish Public Library Archives, and the McGill University Archives.
One of the things that I found particularly endearing about Canadian archives is that they have a heavy focus on transparency and collaboration on all levels. This carries into the way archives interact with different departments, institutions, and even the public. Canadian archives also heavily enforce accountability and documentation of all decisions made regarding appraisal, and often go through several levels of approval to de-accession or destroy government materials. While it may seem excessive to have so many voices weighing in, doing so has allowed Canadian archival institutions to run more proficiently and leaves less room for error in deaccessioning materials. This management system came to light due to an incident in the 1980s, in which it was discovered that documents containing the names of Nazi war criminals living in Canada had been destroyed. This shocking discovery led to public outcry and demand for reform that helped shape Canadian archival management into what it is today.
In addition to management, Canadian archives also differ in the appraisal, arrangement, and description of their materials. With appraisal, they use a method known as macro-appraisal, in which the value of archival material is determined by the context of why and how the materials were created. This is in contrast to the approach taken in the United States, which emphasizes the content (and not context) of materials when determining value. In terms of arrangement, Canadian archives make a distinction between collections and fonds. Collections and fonds are on the same intellectual level, but whereas fonds indicate archival material that have been organically assembled, collections indicate materials that have been artificially assembled. Fonds are predominantly used in Canada, and archivists tend to opt for a more provenance-oriented arrangement method.
Something I was surprised to discover in talking with various Canadian archivists was that having a library science degree is not a strict requirement for becoming an archivist in Canada. Unlike in America, where having an archival educational background is highly valued in the field, many of the archivists I met had a variety of backgrounds, from history to political science. However, despite lacking a formal education in archival practice, all the archivists I met have been incredibly proactive and involved in the field. Their constant discussion with peers and the public has helped strengthen archival processes as well as representation and accessibility within institutions across Canada.
Of course, Canada and America have their similarities, particularly with regard to the issues that archives face presently and looking toward the future. One important issue surrounding all archives is subjectivity and inconsistencies with the organization of entire collections and subsequent description of materials. This is evidenced by differences found not just between institutions, but also between processing archivists. While archivists are tasked with providing unbiased representations of archival material, bias is inherent in the way archivists process materials. The lens through which an individual views archival material is unique, which can result in inadequate representation of a fond or collection’s subject matter. Accurate representation and loss of culture are big hurdles for archival institutions to overcome, particularly with materials related to marginalized communities. Additional universal issues in the field include community awareness, public outreach, lack of funding, and providing optimal reference knowledge to patrons.
I learned so much about Canadian archives in the short time that I was there. If you are interested in learning about the way international archives process and describe their materials, I would highly encourage you to take a study abroad course or get in touch with an archive that sparks your interest.
Rita Wang is currently in her second year of the MLIS program and is on SJSU SAASC’s web team for the 2017-2018 school year. Throughout her time in the program, Rita has had three internships in archives, with the first working as a student archivist at the SJSU Special Collections and Archives. There, she was introduced to archives and archival practice, which persuaded her to switch from a librarian concentration to an archival pathway. Rita has also worked as a surveying archivist intern for the Computer History Museum in San Jose. Currently she works as a processing archivist intern at the Hoover Institution Library and Archives, specializing in East Asian collections.
Your faithful 2016-2017 SAASC officers Rebecca Leung, Tiana Trutna, and Amanda Mellinger attended the SAA Annual Meeting in the midst of a heat wave in Portland. The best way to escape the heat was to jump into the intellectual fire of #SAA17! The theme of this year’s meeting was Alike/Different. Many of the sessions were centered around the theme of diversity, inclusion, and community engagement. This theme is important to us at SJSU SAASC as well, especially considering that our members represent a diverse community from all over the globe.
Some sessions attended by SAASC officers included:
It was a particular pleasure to attend Social Media vs. Open Government: Similarities, Differences, and Impact on Records Management Practices, where the iSchool’s own Dr. Pat Franks and Dr. Michelle Chen were presenters. SAASC officers spread out to cover many different Section Meetings, including the Manuscript Repositories Section, the Archival History Section, the Oral History Section, the Women Archivists Section, the Students and New Professionals Section (SNAP), and the Archivists and Archives of Color Section.
In addition to the sessions and section meetings, Amanda took the test onsite to become a certified archivist by the Academy of Certified Archivists. We are very proud to announce that both Amanda and 2015-2017 Web Team member, Melissa Rupp, passed the test and are now provisionally certified archivists! (Melissa took the test at the Salt Lake City test site. The exam can be taken in any city that has been selected by enough applicants, and is always held in the city of the SAA meeting.) Amanda reports that taking the test is “like taking a short version of the SATs again: cold room, number 2 pencils, and nothing allowed on your desk”. For those of you curious about possibly taking the test yourselves someday, it consists of 100 multiple choice questions from seven different domains. After the test, Amanda was provided with a breakdown of how she scored in each domain, which could be used for continuing study and professional development. Thank you, Amanda, for giving us the inside scoop, and congratulations to everyone who passed!
The SAA Annual Meeting is a great place to not only learn from others about the latest in the archival profession, but join the conversation by contributing your own work. For example, Rebecca presented a graduate student poster entitled Learning about Media Preservation: From Legacy to Next Generation about her Spring 2017 internship at the Bay Area Video Coalition. She also wrote a recap of the Graduate Student Poster Session for the SNAP blog. Amanda is also active with the SNAP section, where she serves as Junior Social Media Coordinator, and wrote two session recaps for the SNAP blog.
Rebecca, Tiana, and Amanda would like to sincerely thank Dr. Hirsh and the iSchool for making it possible for them to attend the meeting with a generous travel award! It’s great to know that our school supports development through professional associations! If you weren’t able to make it to SAA this year, you can always check out the recordings or search the hashtag #SAAleftbehind or #SAA17 on Twitter! We hope to see you at next year’s Annual Meeting, which will take place in Washington, D.C.
Rebecca Leung is a recent iSchool graduate and former Chair of the SAA Student Chapter. In addition to receiving her MLIS with a concentration in Archives and Preservation this last Spring 2017 semester, Rebecca has had two internships during her time at the iSchool. The first involved migrating legacy finding aids to ArchivesSpace at UC Berkeley's Environmental Design Archives, and for the second, she learned about transferring video tape to digital format at the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC). Rebecca is currently starting her third internship, helping SAA's Archival History Section launch their newsletter, while also working at the Bancroft Library and the Archives in the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
We hope you had a great summer!
We're kicking off the start of the new semester with our Annual Meeting next week, Wednesday 8/30 @ 6:30 PDT. Scroll through the flyer below for more information. Hope to see you there!
Did you miss any of our great events this past academic year?
Do you have free time this summer and want to catch up?
Our YouTube channel and ScholarWorks Event Archive have been updated so you can catch up on all the presentations you missed!
Just a recap, presentations included:
The Benefits of SAA and ACA membership
iSchool Publications Roundtable
An Introduction to Oral History in the Archives
Tale of an E-Portfolio
End of Term Web Archive: Collecting and Preserving the .gov Information Sphere
Have a great summer!
Celebrate International Archives Day with Students working on the International Directory of National Archives
When: June 9, 2017
Time: 3 p.m. pacific
Location: Collaborate - https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/launch/meeting.jnlp?sid=2011274&password=M.8522D9BF1E2F5ED2CA7839E2C944C0
Abstract: iSchool students share experiences as researchers for the International Directory of National Archives, edited by Dr. Pat Franks and Dr. Anthony Bernier. IDNA will serve archivists, historians, and researchers with information about 198 national archives. Slated for publication in 2018, IDNA has allowed iSchool students and alumni to conduct research on how nations manage and preserve their documentary heritage and to contribute to a work that will share their findings with a wide audience.
Presenters: Alyse Dunavant-Jones, Heather Kohles, and Kathryn Eminhizer
More info at: https://ischool.sjsu.edu/about/webcasts/upcoming
Questions: Contact Dr. Pat Franks, email@example.com
Interested in interning for SAA? Get to know more about SAASC's parent organization and the archival profession by interning for the 2017-2018 year. Applications are due by Friday, June 16.
Learn more here: www2.archivists.org/news/2017/call-for-2017-2018-saa-interns
SAASC has just released their Annual Report for the 2016-2017 academic year! Check it out! http://sjsusaasc.weebly.com/annual-reports.html
SJSU SAASC was featured on SAA's SNAP blog!
Read more about it here: https://snaproundtable.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/leading-a-virtual-student-chapter-the-saasc-community-at-san-jose-state-university/
It's been a great year! SAASC has participated in 13 events: including 3 in-person tours, and 5 virtual events which we hosted. We learned about cultural competency in the archives, the benefits of SAA membership & ACA certification, oral history, and how to attack the eport. We've been graced by distinguished speakers such as Helen Wong Smith, Rebecca Hankins, Sammie L. Morris, Brenda Gunn, Lauren Kata, and past SAASC Chair, Catherine Folnovic.
We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of you who participated in SAASC over the past year. If you attended our events, participated on a team, or even expressed an interest in our group, we are grateful and hope that you will become more involved in the future.
Thank you also to the iSchool faculty and staff, especially our SAASC Faculty Advisor, Lori Lindberg! We rely on your support!
A very special THANK YOU to our executive officers and teams. Without you, none of this would be possible.
Kudos and thanks to Tiana Trutna, who has served as SAASC Vice Chair and the Events Team Leader for two terms!
Thank you to Amanda Mellinger, who is graduating this semester, served on the Web Team from 2015-2016 and was elected as Secretary and Web Team Leader for 2016-2017. Amanda, you rock for getting SAASC established on ScholarWorks and YouTube.
Thank you Catherine Folnovic who graduated in December 2016, but stayed on until the last minute to train our new Archeota Team. She also came back to share her experience in a presentation about the eport!
Way to go Melissa Rupp! Melissa is graduating this semester and has served on the Web Team for two years!!! Melissa, we appreciate your always interesting and informative Facebook posts.
This year we have also welcomed newcomers who are putting in their time and showing their true dedication. Kimberlee Frederick trained as Archeota's Managing Editor in the Fall with Catherine and officially took over the position in the Spring.
Jody Perlmutter took over the reigns of Twitter and did a great job with October's SAA #AskAnArchivist event. Thanks, Jody!
Thank you to Sarah Edwards Obenauf who helped Amanda launch the ScholarWorks page!
And last, but certainly not least... we wish the best of luck to our incoming officers.
Jennifer Castle, Incoming SAASC Chair... thank you for always showing an interest in SAASC, and serving on the Archeota Team throughout the year. All the best!
April Austin, Incoming Vice Chair, we are looking forward to your events line-up for next year. We know it will be great!
Theresa Berger, Incoming Secretary, kudos to you for getting involved as a first-year student. Looking forward to seeing you shine!
Have a great summer and see you in the Fall!
-Rebecca Leung, on behalf of SAASC