MARAC/NEA Spring 2015: Plenary Speaker – Danna Bell

I’ve been in the archival professional long enough to witness and be a part of a number of changes and developments. I began my career as a reference archivist in a state archives where we used inventories and stack guides stored in black binders to locate records, answered all reference queries by postal mail, and the records were tangible: bound volumes, boxes of paper, photographs. That was the world then. Now, most archives have online catalogs, answer queries by email, and records, while still largely physical, now include a variety of digital formats. And to be fair, where I now work, we’ve been accessioning electronic records for over 40 years, but my career isn’t quite that long.
So, how do we obtain the skills to be an archivist and keep pace with the new tools and resources we need to do our jobs? Our Friday plenary speaker Danna Bell will explore in her talk the skills that one needs to be a successful archivist and will consider some of the ways that she obtained these skills. Like many of us in the profession, with different educational backgrounds and occupational detours, her path to becoming an archivist wasn’t linear. She will discuss how some of the professional associations can help archivists gain these skills. She also promises that some of the skills she will feature are not ones we would expect.
Danna is a well-known personality in the archival world. She has held a slew of leadership positions, too many to enumerate here. Danna recently completed her term as president of the Society of American Archivists, culminating years of active participation in the organization. A few years ago she was MARAC’s chair and has served MARAC in many a capacity. She works at the Library of Congress as the reference specialist on the Educational Outreach Team.  

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