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!






Posted in Society of American Archivists (SAA), Spontaneous Scholarships | Leave a comment

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!



Posted in Spontaneous Scholarships | Leave a comment

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


Posted in Fun stuff | Leave a comment

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.






Posted in Spontaneous Scholarships | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Spontaneous Scholarships | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Participatory archives | 5 Comments

How you can get one of those “this is not an archive” USB drives

Like this one:

"this is not an archive" USB drive

(Well, basically like that one. They will not be exactly like the one in the picture–may have different color/style, but the text will be the same.)

I’m happy to promote this fundraising effort for the Association of Canadian Archivists Foundation (ACAF).* You can order one of these drives for $20 (Canadian) + 5$ shipping to Canada or $10 to outside Canada. (It’s $10 per shipment, so you may be able to combine orders with your local friends/colleagues.)

You can find their order form here. All orders must be received by June 6, 2014 at noon (EST).

*(As noted on the form, this effort is an independent project by Canadian archivists Rodney Carter and Loryl MacDonald,  who are not acting on behalf of, nor do they represent, the ACAF. They are independently producing these as ACA members wishing to raise a bit of money for this charity.)


Posted in Fun stuff | 1 Comment

What’s going on with me …

Regular followers may have noticed I’ve been unusually quiet, both here and on Twitter. It’s been a hectic spring and once things calmed down a bit I have been taking a little break to rest and reflect. So here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on and what you can expect to see coming soonish in this space and others.

First, the books. Four of them, as you may have seen announced in this lovely glossy brochure mailed by the publisher:

R&L brochure

I think I’ve finished up reviewing all the final proofs and I don’t yet have confirmation of when they’ll actually be available, but before SAA certainly. R&L will be having a booth at the SAA annual meeting, so if you’ll be there you can check out the books in person. I have confirmed that SAA will not be carrying this series in their bookstore, so sorry, no option for an SAA member discount for these ones.

Second, the next books. In addition to these first four (Description, Management, Outreach, and Reference & Access), I’ve confirmed all the case studies for the next two books in the series. These will be on Appraisal & Acquisition and Educational Programs. So thanks to all the brave souls who signed on to contribute to those books, which should be available in Spring 2015.

Third, I’ve received very nice news from several organizations who like my work and want to recognize it. As soon as they make those announcements, I’ll share them here. And as you may have seen, this winter and spring I was asked to speak in Canada, Norway, Germany and the Czech Republic (although the Lufthansa pilots’ strike prevented me from actually making those last two). I’m not really accustomed to this kind of jet-set lifestyle, but as long as people want me to come and talk, I’ll happily oblige.

Fourth, yes, it’s that time of year again. Spontaneous Scholarships will be starting up next week. This is the also the fourth year of this campaign, and although I’m happy to organize it again, I have some trepidation about how it’s going to go. The overall number of donors was down last year (only 84 compared to 103 the previous year).  To be honest, it’s rather discouraging. I’ll do my best to drum up more support this year, so prepare to be inundated with cheerful messages from me asking for your money.

And what else?

Well, I want to try doing some new things. I’ve got three possible projects, all of which I think I’ll probably be trying to launch this year. (Well, maybe only two of them will get off the ground this year …) I’ve been writing this blog for a long time and I won’t be abandoning it, but it’s time for something  new, I think.

So, still no full-time day job for me, my friends. This is what I do. As always, thanks for everyone’s continuing support over the years, and I’ll keep you posted on what’s coming next.


Posted in Shameless self-promotion | Leave a comment

The Future of Archives is Participatory: Archives as Platform, or A New Mission for Archives

This is the talk I gave this morning—by phone rather than in person because of the Lufthansa pilots’ strike—at the Offene Archive 2.1 conference in Stuttgart. It’s also similar to the talk I gave in Oslo a few weeks ago at the #arkividag conference. While I also made a recording of it as a backup, since I have it all more or less written out I thought I would post it here too. (I’ve inserted a few images from my presentation but not all the transitional slides or ones that are just repeating things in the text or showing screenshots.) There are some interesting ideas in it, I think, and I’m sure some readers will have comments and additional food for thought. Please remember, it’s a talk, not a journal article. The intent is to give people some big ideas to think about. So I might as well do that here on the blog as well!

UPDATE: If you’d prefer to listen rather than read, the recording I made of me reading the talk over the slides is now available at I was reading very slowly and carefully, so I think I sound a bit like a robot, but it’s available if you’d rather listen and see all the slides as they were presented.


                   *                                          *                                                  *

Continue reading

Posted in Archives 2.0, Conferences, Crowdsourcing, Flickr, National Archives & Records Administration (NARA), Outreach, Participatory archives, Social networking, Technology for archives, Twitter, Web 2.0 & Archives | 11 Comments