75th Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists

As Shangri La’s contract archivist, I flew to Chicago for the Society of American Archivists’ 75th annual meeting. It was a week of nonstop panels, meetings, networking, and workshops—with just enough time left over for hotdogs and cheesecake on a stick!

One thing we’ve been working on here at Shangri La is conceptualizing our institutional archives—an urgent need, especially considering all the documentation we generate every day about events, exhibitions, capital projects, conservation, and scholars and artists in residence. To that end, I gathered as much information as I could about preserving and providing access to “born-digital” materials such as email messages, PDFs, and digital video and image files. I was fortunate to attend April Norris’s one-day workshop, “Preserving Digital Archives: Concepts and Competencies,” which introduced participants to the model of an Open Archival Information System, and to some of the technical, policy, and theoretical issues related to digital archives.

As Shangri La enters the world of social media via our blog, facebook, and vimeo sites, we also need to consider how to capture, preserve, and provide access to this content—not just the content generated by us, but also the content generated by you, our users. Luckily, there were a number of sessions on rights analysis and social media archiving that offered advice on that very topic. Of course, trends, technology, and user agreements change constantly and quickly. This is both maddening and exciting, and it requires archivists to become that much more nimble.

Finally, I was excited to attend the meetings of the Museum Archives Section and Working Group. It was such a great opportunity to talk shop (and eavesdrop on others talking shop!) about issues specific to museum archives, such as accession files and curatorial files.

It was great to spend a week with colleagues, and I returned from Chicago feeling invigorated. We have a lot of work ahead of us here in the Shangri La/DDFIA archives, and I’m excited to be a part of it!