Reflections: SAA Austin (Tuesday/Wednesday)

I’ve finally gotten myself and my notebook together in the same place for a little while to post some thoughts on the Society of American Archivists / Council of State Archivists meeting! Thank goodness they’ve started posting session presentations at the meeting site, session audio/video on facebook, and archiving tweets on TwapperKeeper!

The Research Forum was filled with ups and downs, innovations and regurgitations. The day was broken down into topical sessions, and each speaker got 10 minutes to reveal the main idea of his or her research or project. I enjoyed Paul Conway’s presentation on “visualists” and what he calls the “end of image cataloging,” going beyond the search to user navigation. There were a number of speakers who discussed supercomputing and high-level information architecture, which I must admit was over my head and somewhat out of my area of interest.

My favorite part of the day was the poster session. I hope it can be bigger, longer, and perhaps separated topically next year. Among other great posters, I got to speak with a representative from Denver Public Library, whose poster focused on the Alliance Digital Repository, a collaboration of Denver-area libraries. The project was IMLS-funded and started out with an optimistic, “we’re family” vibe. It ended up with a lot of money spent and little in the way of true collaboration, including the absence of any DAM system. His final words of advice: create contracts of understanding and write everything down when collaborating.

I presented near the end of the Research Forum during the session on “Formulating Community Practice.” I will follow up to this post with a fuller description of my presentation. As the only representative from a public or community-based organization, needless to say I was humbled seeing my name alongside representatives from OCLC, UNC-Chapel Hill, and others. I was not sure, given my topic, that I should have been selected to speak. Perhaps it was the relatively small scope of my project, or perhaps it had to do with my ability to explain the challenges of my project. It is my hope that I can speak more intelligently about the process of empowering and collaborating with community-based organizations in future years.

I also got to participate in THATCamp Austin, which I’ll post about shortly.

On Wednesday I took the ACA Certified Archivist exam. I will have more to say about that experience in a few weeks when I find out the results! All I can say right now is that I was the first to finish the exam that morning, which could be a very bad or a very good thing.


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August 2009
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