SAA’s Equal Opportunity/Non-Discrimination Policy

Just a little “yay team” note, the Society for American Archivists has added language to their non-discrimination policy protecting people in “gender identity/expression,” “religion,” “sexual orientation,” and “veteran status” categories from discrimination. The policy is here with a strong support statement; some bloggish discussion here (and see the previous post linked form that one) and here. [via]

Society for American Archivists changes stance on listserv archives

After a lot of blustery back and forth, the SAA has reversed its decision to ditch the SAA listserv archives. I think this is a smart plan, but it was interesting to watch the back and forth on this topic. Some salient points

  • The “lifetime of your comments” issue – one of the issues involved potential trouble with people wanting their material purged from the listserv archives. Back before things like this were easily Googleable, you could post things to a listserv that mostly remained only within the collective memory of the group, that is no longer the case. This presents trouble for some people, and may represent trouble for the groups. When I was on ALA Council, I was always surprised that people didn’t seem to have an understanding that anything that they posted to the list was linkable on the Internet via the Council archives.
  • The cost issue – if it’s too expensive to store your online content, you are probably not making the most of available options. For savvy non-profits, storing text online — even heavy-bandwidth content — is often free or close to free. If someone is charging you a lot of money, consider changing your hosting options.
  • Admin hassles – again as with the previous topic, depending on the tech-savviness of your membership and your willing volunteers, techie projects like moving an archive can seem simple, or too-difficult difficult. If you have people who are telling you that a tech project is “too hard” ask around and see if you can find other people who have a different viewpoint. I think it’s a good idea to never look a gift volunteer in the mouth, and of course we all do our share of unpaid work to help our professional organizations, but sometimes this government of the willing doesn’t result in the right person for the right job. It’s a tough balance, often made tougher by the fact that a group of non-techie people will think that many techie projects are hard when what is more true is that the techie project is outside of their abilities — something that they may not even know themselves. Working out these dilemmas often requires more diplomacy than the average super-techie person is used to working with, and this is a problem that I personally grapple with on an almost daily basis.

So, good on you SAA for doing the right thing. I hope this decision turns out to not be too onerous for all involved.

Archives + Blogs = ???

When I went to the Society for American Archivists conference, one of the reasons I was invited was to be a positive presence and advocate for librarians (and by extension, archivists) using blogs, or at least paying attention to them. Many people told me “you think librarians don’t use technology, wait til you meet archivists!” I think there is a lot of competitive jostling in the multi-way tie for last place for “getting” technology in some of the helping professions, but as always, people are doing some neat things to sovle the problem.

Mark Matienzo, who I saw at SAA and at Library Camp and managed to not say hello to, has a few neat thoughts and widgets. First, a post at hig blog The Secret Mirror about how he selects and thinks about archive blogs. This is particularly interesting, because Mark is the maintainer of the ArchivesBlogs site which aggregates the content of blogs by and for archivists. It’s also noteworthy as a resonse to this post by Thomas Lannon, himself an archivist, in which he blogs about disliking blogs. How meta! Food for thought, as always.

I have witnessed how blogging tends to suck the life out of people as they turn from multidimensional humans into single-minded RSS feeds. Blogging deserves a large amount of criticism even from those who do partake in it, as a technology it rests on flimsy foundations of emerging, changing tools and only a slim representation of people find time to write them. Constructive criticism is just and no matter how much I think blogging is purile, I still can’t help from posting these silly notes.

my SAA talk, notes and photos

I gave my talk about collaborative information systems and blogs generally at the closing day of the SAA conference yesterday. Here are my slides: Capturing Collaborative Information: News, Blogs, Librarians, and You. It’s pretty picture-heavy — thank you Flickr — but you can click on the “printable version” link in the last slide to see my notes. You can also see a few pictures in my Flickr photostream under the saa tag. I went to another discussion on the link between archives and justice that I’ll be writing up later today as well as tracking down some of the reports from people who blogged about my talk yesterday.