Last week, thousands of archivists descended upon Washington, D.C. for a joint annual meeting of the Council of State Archivists (COSA), the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). Every four years these national organizations convene in our nation’s capital to learn and share knowledge. I was able to attend the conference as a member of SAA, as were assistant department head Laura Sullivan and one of my fellow project archivists, Stephanie Bennett. The following are, in my opinion, some highlights of the conference.
Attending educational sessions is one major reason we attend conferences. The sessions that struck me the most this year were “Getting Things Done with Born-Digital Collections,” “Talking to Stakeholders about Electronic Records,” and “Taken for Granted: How Term Positions Affect New Professionals and the Repositories That Employ Them.” The first two discussed the challenges of electronic records, which is a hot topic in the archives profession right now. The session on term positions was particularly relevant to me since I am currently in a term position, meaning that my employment here ends after a certain amount of time. That session discussed the positive and negative impacts of short term positions, as well as possible solutions and compromises to the problems term positions create.
Another big reason we attend conferences is to meet other archivists and to network. Happily, I found two friends from grad school right off the bat, and it wasn’t long before I found other IU-Bloomington alumni, including those that I’d never met. I also met lots of people who graduated from other schools, and it was great to learn about different experiences and their current work. I even got to meet some famous people in the world of archives, which was really exciting for a new professional. In the end, it was wonderful to catch up with old friends and meet new.
A couple other highlights of the conference were the All-Attendee Reception and a variety show, “Raiders of the Lost Archives.” This year’s reception was held in the Library of Congress Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building. That is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen, and absolutely lives up to its hype. They opened the reading room up to us, which is only opened to the public twice a year. I could not have been more excited to be there. After the reception, a sketch show was performed – of which I was a part – back at the conference hotel. It was a reboot of “Raiders of the Lost Archives,” which was a sketch show performed in the 1980s and 1990s. The shows included skits and songs full of archival humor (yes, it’s a thing), and it was a blast to be involved. This year’s recording may be available on YouTube in the near future, but don’t judge my performance too harshly – keep in mind we had very little rehearsal and it was at the end of a long day. But really, overall I think the show went well; we received some wonderful comments and it was good fun.
The joint meeting this year was a great experience, and I hope to attend next year’s SAA Annual Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio!