Since I don’t work in an archive anymore, my interest isn’t driven by institutional need. Instead, I look for sessions and speakers that generally interest me. This is pretty much what goes through my head whenever I see SAA’s session schedule: “I want to attend this one and this one and this one and this one. Then I want to use the Time-Turner that Professor McGonagall gave Hermione so she could attend two classes at the same time so I could go to this and this…”
While I want to brush up on my EAD (to keep things fresh just in case) August 17th’s all-day session on Managing Audiovisual Digitization Projects is one I REALLY want to attend. Working with the AV collection at Well Known Non-Profit (WKNP) was my favorite part of the job, but I always felt I couldn’t do the collection justice because my education in that subfield was lacking in, well, everything. I credit much of my AV preservation knowledge base to George Blood, one of the session’s presenters. His company preserved many AV materials for WKNP and I have attended his workshops on preservation and AV metadata. Great guy, great company. Give him all your audio and money; you won’t regret either.
Audio makes up the bulk of WKNP’s AV collection, but its films were my love. Researching their provenance, titles (many reels and containers were unmarked), background, and copyright filled my days. Detective work is the best part of being an archivist. Those vinegar-scented coils and old Betacams spurred my interest in media history and preservation. I’d hit up Session 305 – ‘Film at 11’: True Stories of News Film Collections and Session 706 – Keeping the Televised Historic Record: An Archive of Public Media in the Making to learn how collections in this threatened demographic are being preserved. Also because newsreels are fascinating. And AV archivists are occasionally quite “out there” in the best ways possible and are mostly very cool people.
There’s at least one incredibly depressing session every year at SAA. They’re depressing because of the content, but almost always end on an uplifting note on how archivists, librarians, and other information professionals are working to spread awareness and increase access to content. Last year’s depression session was on Palestinian archives. This year’s is the Japanese-American Confinement Collections Symposium. World War II fear-mongering imprisoned over 110,000 Americans of Japanese descent. On American soil. I cannot fathom archiving the records this period produced. I’d just get angry and pissed, and rage cataloging is neither productive nor efficient (I’ve tried it). I’d go to learn more about this subject, which was woefully underrepresented in the textbooks I had growing up.
Admittedly, I usually breeze through poster presentations, but I would definitely linger around Increasing the Diversity Dialogue: Sharing Our Experiences with Microaggressions in the Archival Field. You don’t work a pink collar profession in a (white) man’s white collar world without having had at least two or three (or more) negative and demeaning experiences. And remember when I referred to last year’s SAA as a “Lisa Loeb cosplay convention“? The extreme lack of diversity (Glasses or no glasses? Cardigan or no cardigan? Facepalm or headdesk?) create an environment for these microaggressive experiences. Share with others. Learn from others. Encourage adjustments accordingly.
A session on August 21 is called Dancing to a New Tune: Managing Your Career in the Archives Profession Advice for recent graduates, new professionals, mid-level folk, and those that don’t fit into the previously mentioned categories. Considering that the words “unemployed” and “housewife” gave attendees last year a huge case of the heebie-jeebies, I consider this session a massive step in the right direction for the profession. Some people are out of work. Some want to get back to work. Some plan on going back, just not right now, but they’re still archivists. Don’t forget about them or write them off.