Gearing Up for #AskAnArchivist Day

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The members of SAA’s Committe on Public Awareness (COPA) have gathered in Chicago this week to review and rework our work plan for the next year. With #AskAnArchivist Day fast approaching (it’s this Wednesday, October 4th, in case you missed the announcement), we’re dedicating a chunk of time today to get ready our favorite day of the year.

Last year, the COPA members and SAA staff had fun creating promotional memes for the annual event…

…so we’re creating a few more today for a last promotional push.

Follow the official hashtag, #AskAnArchivist, on Twitter–we’ll keep sharing our memes (the good, the bad, and the ugly) up until the big day. And it looks like University of Chicago Special Collections is getting in on the meme fun this morning as well…

Think you can top these #AskAnArchivist Day promotional memes? Share yours on Twitter today and tomorrow to build up momentum heading into Wednesday!

Don’t worry, we’re not spending our entire in-person meeting creating memes. We’ve also come up with a number of questions that we plan to ask throughout the day on Wednesday so that COPA can join the conversation and hear about your archival outreach successes…and failures.

We’ll be asking/prompting:

“What’s an archivist?” elevator speech in 140 characters or less. Go!

What has been your favorite outreach event that brought people to your archives?

Any collections or repositories you’ve heard of that made you say “There’s an archivist for that?!”

…so get your answers ready, and be prepared for more questions coming from COPA! We’ll be using an added hashtag, #ArchivesAWARE, to make it easy to follow our questions.

See you Wednesday!

#AskAnArchivist Day 2017 participants list

 

A COPA Guide to SAA 2017

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Just one month to go until the annual conference in Portland!  As you plan your conference schedule, take a look at the Committee on Public Awareness (COPA)’s guide to all things public awareness-related at SAA 2017: https://archives2017.sched.com/committeeonpublicawareness.

To make it even more digestible, we’ve broken down the Sched list into the top 5 things you should check out.

1.) Be sure to catch our 2nd annual Advocacy Forum on Thursday at noon!  Our timely topic is “Archival Advocacy and Awareness Amid Social/Political Upheaval.”  This talk will be moderated by COPA chair Sami Norling and the Committee on Public Policy (COPP) chair Dennis Riley.

2.) Chat with us during our COPA office hours in the Exhibit Hall on Friday.  We’ll be there from 8 – 8:30 am and 12:30 – 1:30 pm.  We’ll be collecting your Federal Funding Impact Stories, ideas for Ask An Archivist Day 2017 (October 4, 2017), nominations for inspirational archives speakers and stellar collections, and soliciting contributions to this very blog!

3.) Still not sure what COPA does?  If you arrive early, join us for our meeting on Wednesday at 2:00 pm.

4.) Staying late?  Take advantage of all of The Liberated Archive sessions, happening throughout the day on Saturday.

5.) Finally, look at all of that green in the middle of our schedule.  There are so many great sessions highlighting archival outreach to the community this year.  You’re sure to find one which fits your particular public outreach interest.

See you in Portland!

Federal Funding Impact Story #5

Project: Music Quest

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Granting Agency: Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Grant Program: LSTA Grants to States
State Library Administrator: California State Library
Grant Program: Eureka! Leadership Program
Institution: Contra Costa County Library
State: California
Congressional District: 11th California Congressional District
Grant Period: 2014-2015
Award Amount: $5,000
Institutional Match Amount: $5,000

Project Description
Music Quest was created to help supplement the lack of music programs in the lower income community in Pittsburg, CA by offering free music workshops for teens, which allowed them to learn the fundamentals of playing musical instruments, improve their reading and social skills, and to help them learn how to integrate music into their
lives.

What was the need for the grant?
The objective of implementing this program at the Pittsburg Library and Oakley Library was to offer lower income youth an introduction to music at no cost, which would enhance their understanding and knowledge of music and empower them to seek out other musical opportunities. After doing extensive research it was determined that music is a highly effective motivator for teens and as I have seen first hand it can change a teens life to learn to play an instrument.  After delivering the guitar and drum workshops, it was clear that the students were learning basic skill levels in guitar and drums and would be able to continue to play on their own. After these workshops, these students began to understand the power of music lessons and wanted to continue with instruction to further their skill and knowledge.  Some of the students were at the time of the workshop sessions homeless and despite their challenged living situation they attended every single workshop.  It became clear that when the teens were learning and playing the instruments they became inspired, motivated, and wanted to learn more.  They also connected with their fellow peers, bonded, and some formed lasting friendships and are still connected even now.

What has been the primary impact of this project?
Music Quest participants were evaluated on attendance plus participation and were given a survey at the end of the workshop series in order to gauge increased skill level, opinion of the workshop content and the instruction process. By observing the workshops and evaluating the surveys, the results proved that all of the teens that participated in the guitar workshops ended up with more than a basic understanding of the different parts of the guitar, tuning, and were able to learn chord progressions and drum beats. The program definitely had an impact on the local community.  Partnerships were made with the City of Pittsburg and Pittsburg High School, Freedom High School in Oakley. Local music instructors were chosen to give the lessons and spent many hours working with the teens at the library.  Local musicians visited the sessions and a special finale concert was put together for the community to gather together to see these amazing teens play instruments.

A total of 87 students participated in the Music Quest program over a one year span at the library.  After taking the music lesson workshops, these students began to understand the power of music lessons and wanted to continue with instruction to further their skill and knowledge. In addition, through the workshop survey, it was determined that all of the students that participated in the guitar and drum workshops agreed that music is a lifelong source of enrichment and became much more interested
and aware of music opportunities available to them such as careers in music, recording, and sound management.

Submission by: Kimberli Buckley, Community Library Manager, Contra Costa County Library

 

Federal Funding Impact Story #4

Project: Detroit Institute of Arts Archives Assessment

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Detroit Museum of Art exhibition catalog, 1886.

 

Granting Agency: National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
Grant Program: Humanities Collections and Reference Resources
Institution: Detroit Institute of Arts
State: Michigan
Congressional District: 13th Michigan Congressional District
Grant Period: June 20, 2016-July 31, 2017
Award Amount: $40,000
Institutional Match Amount: $40,000

Jobs Created:
– 1 PTE 28 hr/wk position for 12 months
– 3 graduate students earning 3 credits each for 5 months of experience

Project Description
Assess and establish intellectual control over a collection of 11,000 linear feet of the museum’s administrative records, dating back to its founding, including 30 years of unprocessed artists’ correspondence, acquisition records, director’s files and curators’ exhibition papers.

What was the need for the grant?
Documents within the DIA’s Research Library and Archives detail pivotal moments in the City of Detroit’s history. Most recently, they described the DIA’s role in the resolution of the City of Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy. It was the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history both by debt, estimated at $18 billion, and by population, over 700,000 residents. At the time, the DIA was owned by the City of Detroit. It was also the city’s most valuable asset. Following the bankruptcy filing, creditors asked for the sale of DIA art. News agencies predicted the museum would close.

During bankruptcy proceedings, the DIA’s archival records helped save the museum. During the trial, over 180,000 DIA records were digitized for court proceedings. The documents showed that most of the museum’s most important works came from non-City of Detroit support. They were used extensively during the approval of a financial agreement that would come to be known as the “Grand Bargain.”

Unfortunately, like most of the DIA’s archival records, very few of the bankruptcy documents had previously been appraised, accessioned or processed. All such activities stopped thirty years ago, following severe museum-wide budget cuts and the dissolution of the DIA’s archival team. Therefore thirty years of records, including artist correspondence, directors and curators’ papers, and acquisition documents, have not received archival treatment. Many of the museum’s earlier documents, dating back to the late 19th century, have not been processed either.

Following Detroit’s bankruptcy and its resolution, the museum has better financial stability than at any other time in its modern history. With financial stability and a bankruptcy behind it, the DIA has resumed its commitment to its archival activities.

What has been the primary impact of this project?
The holdings survey was the key to understanding the unknowns of the materials currently held in RL&A. The museum is fully committed to making its archives more available and better organized for researchers. The Project Director and DIA Archivist are now able to better strategize future use of the DIA archives upon discovering its full contents. An immediate outcome of the holdings survey is improved access to collection, in particular, those that have been “hidden.” The collections-based reports can subsequently be translated into finding aids and catalog records for better access to the local, national, and international community.

The Project Team synthesized the results of the holdings survey with the input of the Advisory Team. The combined intelligence has been used to strengthen physical and intellectual control over the collection. The holdings survey provided the evidence needed to move forward with making sound decisions for improvements in description and access, prioritizing preservation needs, informing workflows, identifying issues we were not aware of, and plan for future projects (such as a future digitizing project).
Impact 3: To date, 164 collections (approximately 8,000 cases and 4,700 cubic feet) have been identified within the Library Stacks (the library’s book storage area) Archives Stacks, the DIA’s offsite Warehouse, and various other departments within the museum including AV offices and the Photography Department. Materials in each of these locations were inventoried and compiled into a single database for ready reference with rankings to reflect housing quality, physical quality, physical access, intellectual access, and intellectual value. These rankings are to inform and prioritize for future digitization efforts.

Submission by: Danae Dracht, Project Archivist, Detroit Institute of Arts
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Federal Funding Impact Story #3

Project: Documenting Modern Living

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Alexander Girard textile design floor plan, ca. 1956, on the IMA Archives Digital Archives Portal landing page (archive.imamuseum.org)

Granting Agency: National Endowment for the Humanities
Grant Program: Preservation and Access: Humanities Collections and Reference Resources
Institution: Indianapolis Museum of Art
State: Indiana
Congressional District: Indiana US District 7
Grant Period: April 2012 – May 2015
Award Amount: $190,000
Institutional Match Amount: $221,000

Jobs Created:
The largest portion of the award received from NEH went to the hiring of two full time employees–one for 18 months, and the other for 24 months.

Project Description
Digitization of the Miller House and Garden Collection, and creation of a Digital Archives Portal for delivery of content.

What was the need for the grant?
The Miller House and Garden Collection documents the design, construction, decoration, and maintenance of the iconic mid-century modern property for over 50 years. When the house and garden were gifted to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, this important archival collection also came to the museum. To assist the IMA in successfully stewarding the home and the many collections materials that came along with it, increased access and better preservation of the archival collection were key. Digitization would solve both needs, and a grant would allow for the purchase of digitization equipment and the hiring of staff to undertake the years-long process.

What has been the primary impact of this project?
This project has allowed for unprecedented access to an important mid-century design collection that documents the legacies of Daniel Urban Kiley, Eero Saarinen, and Alexander Girard. The easy availability of this material has made it possible for the Indianapolis Museum of Art to present the story of the home to the Columbus and broader Indiana  and national communities at a level of detail and accuracy that would not have been possible without the grant award. Perhaps the greatest impact that this project has had is on the country’s future architects, as architecture students from around the country have requested the high-resolution images of the home and landscape architectural drawings to further their studies. Students of interior design have similarly benefited, and will continue to do so for many decades to come.

This grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities has also had a direct impact on the lives of the two full time, temporary employees hired with the grant funds. One has gone on to further the Columbus Indiana Architectural Archives as their archivist, and the other was offered a job at a high-profile design company immediately following the grant period as a result of their work on the Documenting Modern Living project.

Submission by: Samantha Norling, Archivist, Indianapolis Museum of Art
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Federal Funding Impact Story #2

Project: Preservation at the Charleston County Records Center

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Granting Agency: National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
Grant Program: Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions
Institution: Charleston County Government
State: South Carolina
Congressional District: SC 1st Congressional District
Grant Period: January 2016 – June 2017
Award Amount: $6,000

Jobs Created:
1 contract consultant job created

Project Description
Preservation needs assessment conducted by a Lyrasis consultant, along with the purchase of preservation materials to rehouse archival collections.

What was the need for the grant?
Many of the oldest, most valuable records held at the Charleston County Records Center (CCRC) were in need of preservation. Federal grant funds from the NEH aided in beginning the process of developing a preservation program through the preservation needs assessment and provided funds for rehousing materials needed to adequately preserve archival records.

What has been the primary impact of this project?
The project impacted the local citizens of Charleston County by developing a plan to ensure their records and their ancestor’s records are in good condition and accessible in the future. At the national level, this project looked at how to ensure that historical records of research interest will be preserved for future research purposes. The grant also made it possible for CCRC to purchase 150 archival boxes to rehouse historic Clerk of Court records that date pre-1950.

Submission by: Haley Doty Vaden, Records Manager, Charleston County Government

Share Your Federal Funding Impact Story!

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On Thursday, March 16, 2017, President Trump sent an outline of his proposed FY 2018 budget to Congress, to be followed by a more detailed proposal in the spring. The budget, known as “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” proposes a $54 billion increase in defense and public safety spending that is offset by equivalent cuts in discretionary non-defense programs. Included in those cuts are reductions in, or the total elimination of, funding for federal agencies with a history of supporting cultural heritage organizations and projects.

Share Your Story!

The proposed budget eliminates funding for the following agencies with a history of supporting archival and other cultural heritage projects:

  • Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
  • National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

The proposed budgets for other agencies with archives-related programs have not yet been released. These include:

  • National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)
  • Library of Congress
  • Smithsonian Institution

Although this budget originating from the Oval Office is only a proposal, with Congress ultimately controlling appropriations, this proposal serves as a reminder to cultural heritage professionals in archives, libraries, and museums that it is always important to advocate for our institutions and those sources of funding that are so crucial to the work that we do.

During the lengthy appropriations process to come in the House and Senate, we should focus our advocacy efforts on the appropriations subcommittees with jurisdiction over the programs that affect SAA members and the institutions that employ them. By sharing examples of the positive impact of federal funding for the arts and humanities with representatives in both the House and Senate, we as a profession can hope to affect the decisions made regarding these federal funding agencies.

As archivists, librarians, and museum professionals, we know how our collections, institutions, and local communities have benefited from grant funding from these federal agencies. We collect statistics about the work we accomplish under these grants, but we also know that the impact goes far beyond numbers alone.

Consider: Did your federal grant-funded project empower K–12 educators to teach with primary sources, connect family members through genealogical records, or inspire a community art project?  Did a federal grant enable your institution to create jobs, contract with an external vendor, or carry out a project that had a fiscal impact on your institution? It is these stories of direct impact, whether personal or fiscal, and at all levels–within your institution, your local community, or even on a national scale–that speak to the true value of federal grant funding for the arts and humanities.

Personal impact is powerful. Please share the details of your federally funded project and the story of its impact. Access the online submission form at the following link:

Share Your Story!

Submitted stories will be published online by the SAA Committee on Public Awareness, and promoted by the Society of American Archivists through their website and social media channels. We hope to gather stories representing all types of archival repositories, and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, so please consider sharing your story–no impact is too small when it comes to advocating for federal support for the arts and humanities! Please check back regularly to ArchivesAWARE and the main landing page for the Federal Funding Impact Story initiative on the SAA website to read and share stories of impact.

NEH        NHPRC

IMLS

NEA

Header image courtesy of the Library of Congress.