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Sustainable Archives: AUSTIN 2009

Joint Annual Meeting of the Society of American Archivists and the Council of State Archivists
Pre-conference Programs: August 9–11, 2009
Conference Dates: August 11–16, 2009
2009 Exposition Dates: August 13–14, 2009
Hilton Austin

Call for Session Proposals

The 2009 Annual Meeting is being held in a city that marches to a different drummer. Austin is Texas the way the locals like it: fresh, innovative, progressive, and quirky—all that and a vibrant self identity that attracts new residents by its undisguised confidence. The confluence of southwestern geography and modern urban community makes this Joint Annual Meeting of SAA and CoSA, August 11–16, 2009, an event that you shouldn’t miss!

Managing change, controlling growth, and nourishing inclusive lifestyles are mainstays of the Austin frame of mind. Citizens are also mindful of global interests and the need for sustainability at home, at work, and in the context of the various environments that support them. Sustainability is about maximizing value and finding underutilized potential in the human and material resources that are essential to our work and livelihood.

Sustainability is also a framing concept for conversations that archivists are having within the profession and with their resource allocators: How to manage change now, how to grow our programs to meet complex information ecologies, and how to nourish ourselves professionally to thrive in the unfolding information environment. Today’s archival holdings exist within environments in which recorded information is swiftly becoming more compressed, wired, and remote. Organizations are constantly redesigning their communications infrastructure to stay in sync with external change while preserving their essential mission and values.

Archivists must be a creative part of the capacity- building process if we are to remain relevant. Immersed in the record creating environment, archivists bring a wide-angle lens of insight to new information systems. Archivists have learned to improvise and practice our art and craft, even when the tools are oddly unfamiliar and the solutions are mostly untested. We increasingly find ourselves balancing interim measures with the search for longterm solutions to preserve recorded information in all formats across the continuum. Scaling and applying today’s promising solutions requires intuition and a willingness to take risks. A certain bricolage kicks in and merges with the solid theory and methodologies that are a baseline resource for the archival enterprise.

SUSTAINABLE ARCHIVES / AUSTIN 2009 is an opportunity to explore the concept of sufficiency across all aspects of archival practice, theory, and visioning. Is there any one of us who is not trying to do it better, stretch resources over a wider playing field, or grow a new idea by borrowing from a colleague’s seed bank of experience? What have we learned from the short- and mid-range strategies that enable us to reduce our processing backlog, maintain legacy archives, or acquire e records that might otherwise be permanently lost? Is archival activity simply more dynamic today than it ever has been, and what does that say about the kinds of leaders and practitioners we need to hone our professional edge?

SAA’s 2009 Program Committee issues a call for session proposals that:

  • Address a range of problem-solving strategies, methods, and tools that offer evidence of our ability to sustain our archives and the archival community,
  • Meet our local and global responsibilities for archival preservation, and
  • Engage new technologies and social dynamics with confidence and creativity.

The Annual Meeting’s organizing theme of sustainability serves as a broad guide. The Program Committee welcomes proposals on all new trends and important research. One of our many goals is to reach a diverse membership with sessions that appeal to a range of attendees, including newcomers and veterans, arrangers and administrators, institutional archivists and specialists. Co-sponsorship of SUSTAINABLE ARCHIVES / AUSTIN 2009 with the Council of State Archivists lends a special interest in exploiting our capital city venue to intersect with government archives and their impact on our lives as citizens and archivists. To avoid professional isolation, the Program Committee asks proposers to consider how the global perspective and the international archival context enrich the professional discussion.

Framing Proposals

Session proposals are welcome on any aspect of the archival enterprise, with special attention to program implementations, best practices, innovations, and solutions that enable us to test and reformulate our theoretical and methodological assumptions. Proposals will be evaluated on the strength of the 75-word abstract, the completeness of the proposal, the diversity of the speakers and their experience, and attention to the meeting’s theme or organizing goals. Session proposals that incorporate one or more of the following will be given special consideration:

  • Elements of the theme of sustainability in archival programs and practice.
  • The impact of government on archival enterprise in a pluralist society.
  • International voices.
  • SAA Section or Roundtable endorsements.
  • Content scaled to a variety of experience levels.

Proposals for the 2009 meeting will be due on October 13, 2008 (extended). Proposal forms and suggestions for how to craft a successful session are posted on the SAA website at:

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2009 Program Proposal Form (Excel)
Proposals Due: Oct. 13, 2008 (extended)

Tips for Strengthening Session Proposals

Call for Pre-Conference Workshop Proposals
Proposals Due: Oct. 15, 2008