SAA 2013: Pre-Conference Workshops

Pam Nye at Loylola

On the Loyola campus

This week I attended two pre-conference workshops before the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists in New Orleans, Louisiana. When I am able to go to the national conference, I find that it is a wonderful opportunity to meet up with long-time friends and meet other archivists from not only around the United States, but other countries as well. It’s also a great time to recharge as a professional.

I took the following two classes this week with this quote in mind from Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content in Cultural Heritage Collections (2010):

“Libraries, special collections, and other collecting institutions increasingly receive computer storage media (and sometimes even entire computers) as part of their acquisition of “papers” from contemporary artists, writers, musicians, government officials, politicians, scholars, scientists, and other public figures. Smart phones, e-book readers, and other data-rich devices will surely follow. For governmental, corporate, and organizational repositories, meanwhile, the stakes are similar; ARMA International estimates that upwards of 90 percent of the records being created today are born digital.” (p. 1-2)

Monday: Digital Curation Planning

On Monday I attended the workshop on “Digital Curation Planning and Sustainable Futures” at Loyola University. The campus was beautiful and the workshop was chock full of information that I will be able to bring back to my school and use. I was lucky in that this was the first time this course has been taught, and it was well-worth the investment. The goals of the class were to provide information for the student to be able to:

  • Develop a digital curation program;
  • Manage digital content; and
  • Advocate for a program that includes archival content and a standards-based framework to manage it into the future.

It was taught by Dr. Helen R. Tibbo, Alumni Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Dr. Nancy Y. McGovern, Head, Curation and Preservation Services at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both are well-versed in this topic and are wonderful teachers. The bibliography for the class was quite extensive, but a good starting point for learning about digital curation is the Digital Curation Centre (UK). One important section to read about is the digital curation lifecycle model.

Tuesday: Managing Electronic Records

On Tuesday I attended the workshop on “Managing Electronic Records in Archives and Special Collections.” The goals of the workshop were to help the participant:

  • Describe the basic elements of an electronic records program, including policy, authenticity, storage requirements, advocacy, and management strategies;
  • Explain the issues surrounding creating policies governing the management of electronic records in his or her organization; and
  • Evaluate workflows, systems, storage, and tools for electronic records management that are appropriate for his or her organization.

Two of the readings that were suggested for the course include “Sustainable Economics for a Digital Planet: Ensuring Long-Term Access to Digital Information” (February 2010) [PDF] and “Managing Born-Digital Special Collections and Archival Materials” (August 2012). The tools that were mentioned in the workshop as well as some of the newer papers that have recently been published give me a great starting point to begin to work on developing an electronic records program at The Westminster Schools.

The class was taught by Seth Shaw, who is taking a new position as Assistant Professor of Archival Studies at Clayton State University. Previously he served as the Electronic Records Archivist for Duke University Archives and was responsible for everything born-digital in both the University Archives & Special Collections.

For More Information

SAA provides many courses online via webinars (called “Online On-Demand Courses“), which are a great option for those who cannot (or rarely can) travel to classes. However, SAA also hosts classes all over the United States, so you might be able to find one near you. The content is incredibly helpful and you will network with other professionals, providing you with a new community to connect with in the future.


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