While I am currently working on my policies for the future Highland Library Special Collections and Manuscript Archive I thought I would extol the benefits of archival roundtables with active listservs. I currently belong to both the regional Conference of Inter-Mountain Archivists (CIMA) and the national Society of American Archivists (SAA). However my biggest day to day connection is through two SAA roundtable listservs.
The first roundtable is referred to as the Lone Arrangers and was suggested to me by the Assistant Archivist at Utah Valley University, Aimee Bastarache. At that time I was not looking into establishing any kind of archival repository in my small library, but Aimee assured me that the listserv (or Discussion List as they refer to it) was invaluable information wise. And she was right the discussions cover everything. Even things you even thought of before. Most recently someone asked about issues relating to service animals.
Other discussions review: what is the best scanner for digitization?; all sorts of archival policies; ideas on oral history interviews; ideas for storage; preservation standards; and the various odds and ends that come up from time to time. Like what do you do with archival realia that contain liquids? Every time I come across something that interests me I keep the particular email with the solution to someone’s quandary so I can refer back to it in the future.
One of the best suggestions I came across was a plug for the new book The Lone Arranger: Succeeding in a Small Repository by Christina J. Zamon. I debated about purchasing the book (especially the cost) and the fact that at the time I really wasn’t an actual “Lone Arranger”. Then things started to click into place and I found that the book would come in handy on my new. I have also been able to use the listserv to connect with other Lone Arrangers and get ideas in setting out the policies for my library.
The second roundtable I joined this year is the SAA Student and New Archives Professionals roundtable or SNAP. This group I found because of a regular SAA “In the Loop” email noting new roundtables. As a recent graduate I felt that this also would be a great group to join. And it has been an interesting ride.
Many of the discussions revolve around employment or the lack there of. Another popular theme recently revolved around issues concerning internships. The steering committee tries very hard to keep the discussions on track while members are working out where they want the roundtable to go in the future.
Meanwhile, I have participated in several surveys concerning both roundtables, been a voyeur on numerous discussions, and added my two cents here and there. I deeply appreciate the discussion listservs provided by SAA roundtables. It is wonderful to get the benefit of insight and support from various archivists across the country. People have such interesting questions along with equally interesting solutions. Hopefully these groups will continue to inspire me in my chosen career field. And pictures of a cute koala never hurt.