More about Innovative Practices in Archives & Special Collections books (and a discount code for ordering!)

I hope you’re not unaware of the fact that the first four books in the Innovative Practices in Archives and Special Collections series are now available from Rowman & Littlefield.  The publisher has done a rather good job of promoting them, I think, but there’s not a whole lot of information about each title available on their site. So in this post and the four that follow I’ll be sharing some of the text from the introductions for the books to give you some insight into what you can expect from each title. In addition, as you may have seen if you got the publisher’s flier in the mail, there’s a discount code which will save you 20% off the cover price if you order from the R&L site:  7S14ARCH. 

In each of the introductions there’s a section in common that addresses what I mean by “innovative practices.” I know that “innovative” is one of those buzzwords that’s used a lot lately, but I think it’s a useful way to describe the content of the books. Besides, the publisher probably wouldn’t have been comfortable with Some Cool Stuff People in Archives and Special Collections are Doing. Here’s what I wrote about the series as a whole:

I debated with myself for some time over the title of this series, “Innovative Practices for Archives and Special Collections.” After all, what is innovative and new to one person is often standard procedure to another. Another option was to call them best practices and follow the model of a series of similar books from the same publisher featuring case studies from libraries. But this seemed equally problematic. In a field that seems to embrace the phrase it depends as a mantra, putting forward the experience of any one archives as best practice seemed ill advised.

It is the very diversity of our field, though, that caused me to stick with my innovative label rather than shying away from it. There are new ideas in these books, or at least ideas that are new to many readers. My philosophy in selecting case studies for the books in this series has been to keep in mind a broad spectrum of readers and to position the series so that it is as valuable as possible for a diverse audience. In each book are case studies from both big organizations and small ones. Some of the creative ideas presented are being implemented with costly tools and robust infrastructures, and others are being done on a shoestring. In determining what to include, I wanted to ensure that every case study incorporates ideas that are transferrable, even if the specific implementation might not be.

This commitment to making the series broadly valuable and practical has meant striving for a balance that favors more approachable innovations over implementations that are aggressively on the cutting edge. The ideas presented here are within the reach of most archives and special collections, if not right away, then in the near future. They represent the creativity and commitment to serving and expanding our audiences that I think are the defining characteristics of the archival profession in the early twenty-first century.

Because archival functions and processes are interrelated and don’t always fit neatly into compartments and because most archivists perform several of them in the course of their daily work, the contents of each of the volumes in this series has both its own clear focus and overlapping relationships with the others. Case studies in reference and access touch inevitably on description and outreach. Because the overarching purpose of description is to facilitate use, issues relating to reference, access, and outreach are components of the case studies in that volume. The overlap of the management volume with all of the others should not be surprising, though the focus of the case studies there are more explicitly on management issues. These interrelationships are inevitable given the nature of archival work, and most practitioners and students will find all of the volumes useful.



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Wow, you people are generous: The Spontaneous Scholarships 2014 numbers

It was a very good year.

Thanks to 120 people, 28 students and 23 regular members will be attending the SAA annual meeting in a happier state of mind. Your donations of $11,210 are funding the registrations of 51 people. Over the previous three years scholarships have been given out to 98 people–so in this one year we’re more than half way toward doubling that number. You have been very generous–and some of you (you know who you are) have been crazy generous.

This year was exceptional also for the high percentage of people we were able to fund. We were able to give money to 28 out of the 42 students who asked, and to an astonishing 23 out of the 37 regular member applicants. So 67% of the people who asked for money were able to receive it. I’m particularly pleased about the number of scholarships for regular members we were able to give this year, considering that at $319 a pop they’re much more expensive than the students ($139).

I also want to recognize two anonymous donors who got into the spirit of the campaign by offering matching donations. The first offered to match all donations made by SAA’s SNAP Roundtable members, up to $1,000. SNAP members met and exceeded that pledge, giving a total of $1926. Another person offered to donate $1 for every donation. I know these two matching pledges encouraged many people to donate something, even if they couldn’t afford much, knowing that it would be doubled (+ $1). Anyone who wants to consider doing something similar next year, let me know!

So over the past four years, together we’ve raised over $31,700 and helped 149 colleagues. For that, all donors, over all the four years, deserve thanks. But clearly this year was phenomenal.  If you’ve donated, I’ve already thanked you, so I hope some of people who’ve benefited from your kindness will thank you themselves in the comments below. If you got a scholarship this year, or any year, please take a minute and share your appreciation and how much this assistance means to you. I’m lucky enough to see all the happy messages people send when I let them know they’ve been picked. Please share some of that with the supportive and lovely people who send in the money!


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Scholarship update: Money still coming in, people being notified

A quick update: The first round of names were picked from the hat and the winners notified on Monday. If your name was pulled, an email was sent to you on Monday morning. A few people have not responded yet to accept the scholarships and as the message says, there’s a deadline for getting back to me. We’ll also be pulling more names out tonight (since we have more donations) and I’ll notify another batch of people, and again, you need to get back to me and accept the offer. So basically, if you applied for a scholarship, please make sure you’re checking your email this week.

Feel free to keep donating via the Paypal link on the site for the next few days, and I’ll post a final update with all the numbers once we’re done giving away the donations.

But please, if someone you know applied for a scholarship let them know to keep an eye on his or her email account!


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It’s now the SAA-Award Winning Spontaneous Scholarship program (plus update on stats)

With about ten days to go in this year’s campaign, we have some great news to share. I am delighted to announce that SAA has honored me with this year’s Spotlight Award for the Spontaneous Scholarships. This award recognizes “the contributions of individuals who work for the good of the profession and archives collections—work that does not typically receive public recognition.” Regular readers will have no doubt about how the scholarships benefit the profession, but if you’d like to read the SAA statement accompanying the award, it’s available here. (You may also browse the full list of award recipients here. It’s worth spending some time learning about the work of these great people and organizations.)

My deepest thanks to those responsible for nominating me, and, of course, there are no scholarships without the donors, so heartfelt thanks to all of you who have made this program continue to be successful over the years.

And speaking of donors … we now have 76 of them. So the generous donor who volunteered to contribute $1  for every contributor will have to dig a bit deeper. Can we push him/her to a $100 donation?I think we can. We’ve already succeeded in meeting the pledge to match all donations by SNAP Roundtable members, up to $1,000, so thanks to all the members of SNAP who have made donations, big and small.

This morning’s tally of donations stands at $6,360. We now have 33 student applicants and 27 people who will be registering at the full SAA member rate, which means we currently have enough to fund 48.2% of the applicant pool. That’s certainly very good, but as you might expect there is usually a last minute rush of names being thrown into the virtual hat, so I cannot feel complacent. With things wrapping up on June 27, there’s still a lot of time for people to donate and apply. If you need information about how to do either, here’s the original announcement post. (You’ll also notice the Donate button at the upper left hand side. Convenient, isn’t it?)

As always, please help spread the word to those who might be able to contribute or who could use a little help. Give if you can, ask if you need!






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Two weeks to go for Spontaneous Scholarships: here’s where we’re at

With just a little over two weeks to go for the Spontaneous Scholarships, we have raised about $5,100, with ~$700 in so far from SNAP Roundtable members eligible for the matching pledge. That money has come from 54 individual donors, which means a matching donation of at least $54 so far from the other matching pledge. So that’s all very good. At around this time last year I was concerned because we were so far behind the previous year’s rate of donations. We’ve had several large donations already this year, which warms the cockles of my heart, but all donations are good donations. If you want the cockles of your heart warmed, maybe you want to read the post I put up a few days ago, with messages from donors.

But what’s the status of the hat? We have the names of 29 student registrants and 24 at the regular member rate. So we’d need $11,687 to fund everyone we currently have. Of course, the plan isn’t to fund everyone who asks, but I’d like to get closer to at least 50% if we can. (As you might expect, the number of names in the hat rises every year. At this time last year we had 22 students and 19 regulars.) 

I’m hoping to see enough donations from SNAP members over the next few weeks so we make that pledge to match up to $1,000, and I’m also hoping we can get closer to funding about half the people who have asked for help. Bear in mind that we usually get a last minute rush of applicants near the deadline after I remind people that the end is near. So if you haven’t donated yet, I hope you will do so. I’m hesitant to post with such positive news for fear it will make people think we’re all set, but in the interests of transparency, this is where we’re at right now. We’re in pretty good shape, but we always need more. As always, give if you can, ask if you need!



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Attn archives entertainers: sign up quickly for Raiders of the Lost Archives at #SAA14

I’ve been tardy about posting this, so if you’re interested, jump on it quickly!

No apologies for cross-posting. This announcement is awesome and everyone should read it, preferably multiple times.

Raiders of the Lost Archives was a series of musical comedy performances presented at SAA and MAC in the 80′s and 90′s. We’ll be resurrecting the tradition Friday night at SAA 2014, and we need your help! If you can sing, act, write, direct, play an instrument, or otherwise contribute to a performance, we’d love to have you. Even if you can’t–we’re not picky.
Here’s how to get involved:
If you’re interested in participating, join our Google Group at!forum/raiders-of-the-lost-archives-the-next-generation. If you have any trouble signing up, you can email and we’ll manually add you to the list.
If you’re interested in attending, or want to help out on an as-needed basis, follow our public announcements at
Please feel free to email me off-list if you have any questions, and I look forward to seeing you at SAA!
Rebecca Goldman, Raiders co-wrangler


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Donations to Spontaneous Scholarships are about more than just money

As I said last night on Twitter, running the Spontaneous Scholarships allows me to see a very positive and supportive side of the archival profession, which although we all know it exists, we sometimes don’t see as much of as we’d like. One aspect of this is that although everyone knows that the donations are primarily about the money, I also get to see that the opportunity to give back or pay it forward provides donors a direct and tangible way to show their support for others. I also get to hear from people asking for help that even if they don’t get lucky and have their name pulled out of the hat, just knowing that other archivists want to help them makes them feel like others in the profession care. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Below are some excerpts from notes and a selection of tweets that show how people feel about the program. And after you read them and get inspired, donate if you can.






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Two matching pledges for the Spontaneous Scholarships!

First, thanks to everyone who’s already donated via PayPal and who already has put a check in the mail. I know this is no Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign, but still, I’m hoping we can at least match last year’s total of close to $7,500.

And to help us reach that goal, I’m happy to announce that two donors have stepped forward with matching pledges. First, a very generous donor has pledged to match all donations made by members of the SNAP Roundtable, up to $1,000. So for SNAP members your donation, at whatever amount you can afford to give, will be doubled! Second, a donor with a generous spirit but a smaller checkbook has volunteered to donate $1 for every donation made. So again, any donation will generate a little something extra. My heartfelt thanks to both these donors for not only their financial contributions, but for encouraging others to donate. If anyone else wants to stop forward with an idea for matching, step right up!

Names are piling up in the hat as well, I’m happy to say. Thanks for everyone’s help in getting the word out about this opportunity, as well as for helping encouraging your friends and colleagues to donate. Again, if you missed the kickoff, you can read more about the Spontaneous Scholarship campaign in the previous post.

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Spontaneous Scholarships 2014: How to give, how to apply

Yes, it’s the fourth year of this wonderful crowdfunding effort to help our fellow archivists and archives students attend the SAA annual meeting. In the past three years you’ve helped 98 people–58 of them students–and I know how grateful all of them were for your donations. With the SAA meeting in DC this year (traditionally the location with the highest attendance), I think there will be more people than ever who might really appreciate a little bit of help. And so, on to the details!

What is this about?

We’re giving money to people to fund their registration for the SAA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Rather than pay for full travel or lodging for just a few people, I try to give a little bit of help to as many people as possible. This effort is not affiliated with SAA in any way. Your donations are not tax deductible. It’s simple. You send me money. I give it all away within a few weeks to colleagues who need it.  In 2011 this campaign ran for two weeks and 94 generous people gave scholarships to 26 happy people.  In 2012, over four weeks we had 103 donors fund 34 people. Last year, in a little over four weeks 38 lucky people were funded by 84 contributors. Overall you’ve given over $20,000 and helped almost a hundred fellow archivists and future archivists.

How you can help

If you want to give, you have several options, outlined below. My preference is for checks because that means PayPal transaction fees aren’t deducted from your donation, but I know it’s easier to click and donate while you’re thinking of it, so by all means, click and donate if that’s easier for you. Here are your options:

  • Pay by check– email me (info [@] or my regular email if you have it) or leave a comment (for which you must supply an email). I will reply with a mailing address. Or if you are an SAA, MARAC, or MAC member, you can look up my address in their member directories.
  • Pay via PayPal–click on the “Donate” button at top right of the sidebar.
  • Pay via credit card–send me an email, and I’ll send you an invoice using PayPal.

Give as much as you feel you can. Every little bit helps. Don’t feel like whatever you can afford to give isn’t enough. But if you’re fortunate enough to be in a comfortable position, please give generously.

How to put your name in the hat for scholarship

If you need help funding your SAA Annual Meeting registration, please send a message to info [@] providing your name, and whether you are a student or regular SAA member (note, you must be an SAA member to be eligible). You must do so by midnight on Friday, June 27. On Saturday June 28 I will draw names out of a hat and notify the lucky people. This will allow you to register by the early-bird deadline of July 7. Once you forward me the confirmation of your registration, I will send you a check.

One note based on a previous year’s experience. One year there were a surprisingly large number of people whose names got pulled from the hat who backed out because they hadn’t realized how high the other costs of attending the meeting would be. Which was fine in the long run. I just gave the money away to people on the waiting list, but it caused quite a hassle for me. So I understand that things happen and your plans could change, but please do a bit of homework first and make sure you think you really can attend the conference before you apply. Also, previous scholarship winners are not eligible to receive another one.

That said, all you need to do to apply is email me with the information listed above.That’s it. It’s on the honor system. Don’t ask unless you need, but if you need, go ahead and ask. This isn’t just for students and new archivists, it’s for everybody who needs a little help.

Which is why I’m asking you now to give, if you can. And why I’ll keep asking until June 27. Please share this through your own networks. (Goodness knows I will!) And if you need some help, throw your name into the virtual hat!

Posted in Spontaneous Scholarships | 9 Comments

Responding to Mike’s comments, and should I put this on a t-shirt?

In response to my post “The Future of Archives is Participatory: Archives as Platform, or A New Mission for Archives,” Internet Celebrity and King of People Who Tweet About Museums, Mike Edson, left this comment:

Hi Kate – – thank you for writing this out!

re: the mission – – “Archives add value to people’s lives by increasing their understanding and appreciation of the past.”

How? Tell me some stories about times when peoples lives became more valuable because they had an increased understanding and appreciation of the past. I’m sure it’s true – – I want it to be true – – but as presented it feels more like a slogan or a statement of intent than a conclusion one would reach by observing archival usage (and users) in the wild. I think the stories you choose will speak volumes about the possible dimensions and impact of this mission. I want to grasp onto some incredible story about how the world I’m living in has been changed by by the best of what can happen in/because of an archive!

Not being an archives guy myself, all the examples I can think of are of two varieties: 1) A historian uses an archive to write a book that changes everyone’s ideas about something that happened in the past, and 2) Somebody walks into an archive and understands something new about their past/family/community and a happy/sad/meaningful/warm-fuzzy feeling ensues. Both of those feel a little…soft…to me. Not enough to drive an entire profession to change its doctrinal practices. (“Doctrinal” – – is that a word?)

I’m kinda craving a story that has a truly life changing, course-of-humanity changing dimension to it. Even better if the example is made possible by the kind of outward looking, open, inclusive, results oriented, civic minded attitude you (we, if I may) want memory institutions to have.

Also, while I’m already moving the furniture around, I want the mission statement to be more forward looking. We humans are not exactly dazzling the universe with our ability to think hard thoughts and do smart things re: the future right now. It’s kind of a problem.

How about: “Archives change history.”

I think that’s a keeper.

Thanks for your comment, Mike, and I disagree.

(FYI, Mike and I go way back. We’re friends. He’s brilliant. Which is why I feel comfortable expressing my disagreement with him in a rather passionate way.)

Continue reading

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