MARAC Fall 2012 Conference Roundup: Advocacy

Author: Tammy L. Hamilton, Member-at-Large

First and foremost, a hearty congratulations and thank you to Paige Newman and the members of the 40th Anniversary Committee for honoring our organization and creating an atmosphere of celebration. From trivia games to visual reminders of our past culled from the MARAC Archives, our organization’s past permeated the conference. 
Throughout the conference, the buzz word in all of the sessions I attended, and in the hallways, was advocacy. This was not unexpected, as plenary speaker Christy S. Coleman, President of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, charged the MARAC membership with advocating for our institutions to our politicians, board members, and stakeholders. 
One of the ways we can advocate for our institutions is by being more vocal about our needs but also our accomplishments. How are we reaching our users? What educational programs are we developing to bring archival resources to schools? How are we holding public officials accountable? 
The MARAC conferences are wonderful networking opportunities and provide us with the chance to “check-in” with other repositories and archival professionals. But they are only twice a year. We can “check-in” remotely with each other and publicize our accomplishments using social media. We can use this blog to inform each other about funding cuts, newly developed educational programs, outreach and advocacy strategies. I would encourage all archival professionals in the MARAC region to send us blog entries. Connect with your colleagues year-round. Tell us what you’re doing. Tell us how MARAC can help you advocate.
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Maryland Collaborations in Archives & Special Collections

Author: Elizabeth Novara, Maryland Caucus Chair

To continue the theme of archivists and collaborations that Laurie’s blog post began a few weeks ago, I would like to focus on some fairly recent collaborations in the state of Maryland. There are currently two groups within the state that coordinate gatherings of archivists and information professionals. Since the 1970s the MARAC Maryland Caucus has organized off-conference caucus meetings, tours, and social events for MARAC members who reside within or close to the state of Maryland. Like all state caucuses, the Maryland Caucus can also advocate for archival issues that arise within the state.

The Maryland History and Culture Collaborative (MHCC), which first met June 2006, “is an informal gathering of information professionals from throughout the state of Maryland whose job responsibilities include the acquisition, preservation, and management of collections related to Maryland history and culture.” (For more information see the MHCC website). MHCC is “informal” in that it does not require formal membership or dues and has no established leadership or bylaws. Both the Maryland Caucus and the MHCC have listservs to which anyone can post at any time, but the MHCC listserv seems to have more traffic than the Caucus listserv.

These two groups have many overlapping members and interests. The Maryland Caucus reaches out to anyone in the archival profession within the state who is a member of MARAC, while the MHCC appeals to all information professionals (at archives, library, or other institutions) who have an interest in Maryland-related materials. MHCC also has an interest in collaborative projects with Maryland-related materials such as traveling exhibits, digitization projects, and other initiatives. One of these projects that has been successful is the Civil War in Your Attic project, “a multi-year initiative to locate, digitize and provide worldwide access to the private documentary heritage of the American Civil War era located in Maryland.”

Almost two weeks ago, the two groups held a joint meeting to discuss possibilities for further collaboration. One of the main discussion points was that MHCC members do not pay dues and therefore do not have a budget to host meetings, special events, or workshops. For this reason, meeting attendees suggested that MARAC and the Maryland Caucus were better at providing educational and training opportunities to the region. It was recommended that MHCC could be a good resource to use in finding host institutions for MARAC workshops and that MHCC could also be a sounding board for MARAC conference session proposals and speakers. In addition, one of my impressions from this meeting was that the Maryland Caucus should continue to host off-conference social events and happy hours, while MHCC might be a better place to have more formal meetings with both MHCC members and Maryland Caucus members.

Overall, there was a positive consensus that the two groups should continue to explore a collaborative relationship. Members continue to feel that both groups provide different networking and other opportunities to the state of Maryland. Hopefully, the groups can find additional and fruitful ways to collaborate on state-wide archival and historical projects, much like what the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) has achieved. For the moment, members of both Maryland groups are mainly focusing on increased networking and educational opportunities.

Call for Submissions: 2012 MARAC Finding Aid Awards

The Finding Aid Award is given yearly to recognize outstanding achievement in the preparation of finding aids by institutions within the MARAC region. Nominated finding aids must be first made available to the public during 2012.

The top award will receive the designation of the Fredric M. Miller Finding Aids Award, in honor of Dr. Miller’s contributions to the field as archivist and author. Monetary awards will be presented at the Spring 2013 meeting in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Call for Submissions
In the last decade, there have been significant changes in the processes by which archivists arrange, describe and make their collections available to the public: most notably, the widespread adoption of streamlined processing practices and a push to make our work available online. At the same time, the fundamentals of good finding aids have remained the same: they provide content that enables researchers to understand the materials in our collections and are designed to help them find what they need easily and quickly.

The Finding Aids Committee invites MARAC members to nominate exceptional finding aids for the 2012 MARAC Finding Aid Awards. Successful finding aids will have outstanding content, take full advantage of the design capabilities inherent in their medium of publication, and incorporate successful innovations that enable researchers to more effectively access and use archival materials. Please see Characteristics of Successful Finding Aids for more details.

Submissions are due by December 31, 2012 and must include:
– A link to the finding aid’s URL or 5 hard copies of the finding aid (if only available in print)
– A nomination letter that addresses the finding aids’ exceptional qualities and/or discusses elements not readily apparent from examination of the finding aid itself.

Please see our Finding Aid Awards Submission Checklist for further information concerning the nomination letter and optional submission materials. Submissions should be sent to the Chair of the Finding Aid Award Committee:

Laurel Macondray — Chair
(Spring 2011-Spring 2013)

National Archives
8601 Adelphi Road
RD-DC Motion, Room 3360
College Park, MD 20740
laurel.macondray@nara.gov

For further information on the award see the Finding Aids Award Committee.

Scholarship: Modern Archives Institute

LEONARD RAPPORT MODERN ARCHIVES INSTITUTE SCHOLARSHIPS

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) provides scholarship funds to attend the Modern Archives Institute. The scholarship award covers the tuition, and up to $600 in travel expenses with demonstration of need, a submitted budget, and receipts.This scholarship is established in honor of MARAC member Leonard Rapport and is known as the Leonard Rapport Modern Archives Institute Scholarship.

QUALIFICATIONS: For this scholarship, an individual must currently be employed in the MARAC region in an archival or archives-related position.

APPLICATION: Applicants should submit a resume; a cover letter including a statement of the expected benefits of attending the Institute; and two letters of recommendation from persons having knowledge of the applicant’s work and qualifications.

DEADLINES: Applications for the winter Institute scholarship should be received no later than November 15, 2012; the recipient will be notified by December 15.

FURTHER INFORMATION: Individuals accepting the scholarship agree to write a report on the experience for possible publication in the Mid-Atlantic Archivist.

For further information about the Modern Archives Institute, including dates, see http://www.archives.gov/preservation/modern-archives-institute/. Please note that, though the Institute fills months in advance, a space is reserved for the MARAC scholarship winner.

All scholarship applications should be sent by email to the current chair of the MARAC Education Committee, Brian Keough, by the deadlines listed.

Erie Conference: Call for Papers

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) Spring 2013 Program Committee is now accepting papers and/or session proposals for their upcoming spring meeting “Charting the Waters: Priorities and the Future of Archives,” which will be held in Erie, Pennsylvania from April 25-27, 2013. Sessions are generally 90 minutes in length and feature three presentations of 15-20 minutes each; sessions conclude with a question and answer period which is moderated by a session chair. Other session formats,such as roundtable discussions and pecha kucha, are also welcome.

The committee is accepting papers and session proposals on all topics relating to the archival profession, with particular interest in donor relations; outreach and advocacy; electronic records and “big data”; and initiatives which analyze and improve users’ experiences on-line and off-line. The committee also has a strong interest in papers or sessions which discuss the history of Erie and/or the Western Pennsylvania region.

If you are interested in submitting a paper or session proposal, please submit a brief description of the paper or session, a list of presenters and their institutional affiliations, and anticipated audio/visual and other equipment needs by October 31, 2013.

Proposals should be sent to EriePC2012@gmail.com.

If you have any questions, please contact Charlotte Sturm (charlotte.sturm@gmail.com) or Jessica Johnson (jejohnson@vsu.edu), Program Committee Co-Chairs.

Archivists and the Greater Philadelphia Area

Author: Laurie Rizzo, MARAC Secretary, Fall Conference 2013 Program Committee Co-Chair

Early in my career I met with Charles Greifenstein, the Associate Librarian and Curator of Manuscripts at the American Philosophical Society (APS). I asked him many questions about his work and career path in hopes of learning how to find a position I want that I am a good fit for. His intimate familiarity with the collection at APS was something I was envious of. He told me many helpful things, but one thing has always stuck out in particular, he told me that I should make sure to find a collection that I loved. A few years have gone by since then, and recently Charles asked me to be program committee co-chair for the upcoming MARAC Philadelphia conference for the Fall 2013, so of course I had to say yes!

I am excited to be part of the planning team for the MARAC conference in the City of Brotherly Love because I *love* the collections in the Philadelphia area and the history they document! The Greater Philadelphia area is packed with amazing archive and manuscript repositories, museums and libraries; I have had the privilege of working at several of them and touring behind the scenes at many others.

There is a wonderful network of support and collaboration that goes on between Philly archivists and institutions. Take the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collection Libraries (PACSCL) for example. Since 1986, PACSCL has grown to include 36 archives and libraries as its member institutions. PACSCL receives support from various foundations to work on amazing collaborative projects such as; The Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network which gathers thousands of geographic materials from six partners to create a web-based repository of geographically organized historical information about Philadelphia. It is useful for the study of the geography, buildings and people of Philadelphia from the 1600s through today.

Another PACSCL collaboration was a two part project. From 2006-2009, the PACSLC Consortial Survey Initiative was a 30-month project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to assess backlogged archival collections at 22 Philadelphia area libraries, archives, and museums. The result is a database that contains information on 1,745 collections held by 16 participating PACSCL institutions that would not otherwise been accessible to researchers. The second part of the project was the CLIR PACSCL Hidden Collections Project which processed 140 collections from 24 member libraries, and the creation of a unified repository for electronic finding aids (funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources from 2009-2012).

More recently was the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s new Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) a three-part project which began by surveying the collections of twenty-five repositories at small historical societies, museums, historic sites, and other institutions, resulting in a Regional Directory of Small Archives.

The fascinating history of science has strong roots in Philadelphia, which boasts a large number of repositories dedicated to collecting materials related to various aspects of science. There are also several educational institutions with strong science programs, whose papers are housed in the archives of those colleges and universities. Continuing with the spirit of collaboration, in 2006 The Philadelphia Area Center for the The Philadelphia Area Center for the History of Science was formed which currently includes 12 member institutions.

There are a number of active local professional organizations like the Delaware Valley Archivists Group (DVAG) which meets quarterly, and because that wasn’t enough there is Archivists Being Awesome (ABA) which provides another opportunity for local area archivists to get together.

There are two educational programs, Temple University’s Public History program and Drexel University’s MLIS with an archives management concentration – so there are a lot of students and emerging professionals in the area who are active in student chapters of professional organizations as well as being active in DVAG, ABA and MARAC.

Philadelphia is so bustling with historical and cultural materials to collect that there are a number of community run archives such as: Radical Archives of Philadelphia which is an all-volunteer, collectively-run community archives that acquires, preserves and makes available the material history of radical individuals and organizations in Philadelphia; The Soapbox: Philadelphia’s Independent Publishing Center which is a West Philadelphia-based space that fosters the creative and political voices of the community and the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) which is the only independent non-profit organization working to document, preserve and provide access to the rich history of South Asians in the United States.

This post is already long and I haven’t even scratched the surface! There is so much more that I could say about each individual archive, library, and museum in the Greater Philadelphia Area, but you’ll just have to come and see for yourself in the Fall of 2013!