The SAA annual meeting in Washington, DC was a great experience for me. It’s certainly a useful event for new professionals to network, students to meet up and share their experiences, or to explore different types of career paths.
The first session I attended – Archival Education: Outcomes and Opportunities – was the beginning of what I’m sure will be a great dialogue between employers, educators, and emerging professionals. Each group had different expectations for what skills should be built into archives graduate programs, but similar themes emerged from their discussions with each other. It seems like one of the major obstacles to archives education is the lack of discussions like the one I attended. Without them, educators don’t understand the needs of their students, students don’t understand the needs of potential employers, employers don’t understand the needs of educators, and so on.
I constantly shuffled around my schedule due to time constraints, and it paid off when I ended up attending Laboring for Access: Rearing Records in Labor Archives. It ended up being one of the my favorite conference experiences. The session addressed the visibility of women’s work in labor collections. Thanks to the boom of women employees in almost every possible field since the second wave, women now participate in almost every possible labor union, but collections don’t often reflect that change, especially in historically male-dominated fields. It is interesting to view this dearth in light of the growing number of women in archives management in what is rapidly becoming a female-dominated profession.
One of the highlights of SAA was connecting with Vincent Novara, Curator at the University of Maryland’s Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library, at the Performing Arts Roundtable meeting. Novara is trying to coordinate a Big 10 consortium of performing arts archives, and I was happy to represent both the University of Wisconsin – Madison and the University of Minnesota (through the DHC). I immediately thought of Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research at the UW-Madison, my employer for the past three years and a natural fit for the consortium given the scope of the collections and the various formats of material we collect. I look forward to helping on this project and seeing what kinds of performing arts collections are being kept at Big 10 schools.
As I finish up my day-to-day work at the University of Minnesota, I’m pleased that there are so many opportunities to continue the projects I’ve worked on for the DHC as I continue my studies at the UW-Madison. I’m looking forward to turning my thoughts and analysis of the Penumbra Theatre Company Archives into a scholarly report of copyright as it relates to performing arts collections (more about that project here), and thinking more about access to performing arts collections in Novara’s Big 10 consortium.
I am so grateful to the DHC for this wonderful opportunity and the lasting impact that it will have on my professional development. Thanks for reading!