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ARCHIVES 2008: Archival R/Evolution & Identities

72nd Annual Meeting
Pre-conference Programs: August 24–27, 2008
Conference Dates: August 26–30, 2008
2008 Exposition Dates: August 28–29, 2008
Hilton San Francisco
333 O'Farrell Street

“Archival R/Evolution & Identities”-hmm…


Since the 2008 Call for Proposals was issued, you may have wondered – as have many of our colleagues – just what a conference carrying this theme would look like. Frankly, we’re delighted by the creativity and spirit of those inspired to explore “who we are, where we are, and where we’re going.” Revolution, evolution, or soul searching, ARCHIVES 2008 promises to be an exciting and stimulating week!

The archives profession is at a crossroads in so many respects, and our conference theme is meant to capture a sense of the uncertainty that characterizes where we find ourselves today. What lies at the heart of our professional identity? When we’re fully honest with ourselves, we must ask if we really know what makes this a “profession” and what constitutes the price of admission to this guild. Some would say the time for handwringing about this is over; others would say it’s just started. Most would say they’re uncertain….

Professional identity(ies) is a primary topic of many of the sessions selected for ARCHIVES 2008. SAA President Mark Greene promises to give this theme focused attention in his Presidential Address. Other sessions explore it from the perspectives of our professional ethics, our education programs, our relationships with allied practitioners and users, and much more.

Questions of identity(ies) are embedded in each of the three strategic priorities that SAA has adopted (technology, diversity, and public awareness), and our conference purposely includes sessions exploring current and future matters in these areas:

  • "R/Evolution" most readily brings to mind the role of archives in the digital age. There can be no denying that technology continually and rapidly transforms our work and the contents of many of our repositories. At ARCHIVES 2008 you'll find help in your efforts to harness the computer's capabilities and to understand (or debate) where the latest advances may be leading. Are you open to the possibilities? Presentations include enhancing discovery of archival material at the Web's surface, incorporating Web 2.0 technologies in archival description, exploring the pros and cons of digitizing entire collections, and employing the Internet in self-mediated reference. If you're addressing electronic documentation preservation and accessibility, you'll find an abundance of information on such topics as acquiring digital manuscript collections, capturing born-digital photographs and other audiovisual sources, preserving Web content, examining new tools and approaches for handling electronic records, and more. Several sessions showcase the need for adapting education programs and skill sets for data curation and the demands for digital content development, maintenance, and standards.
  • The archives community has miles to go in building a work force that more nearly reflects the cultural composition of society as a whole and in ensuring more inclusive documentation from its various sectors. These issues are prominent in a number of sessions addressing strategies for documenting ethnic communities, "second wave" feminism, Asian American experiences, and advancing diversity in institutional archives. One session is devoted to discussion of the recently developed "Protocols for Native American Archival Materials."
  • How do we stack up with respect to public awareness? As this is being written, controversies swirl about the release of past records for presidential candidates and vanished email at all levels of government. Archives and archivists - for better or worse - increasingly find themselves in the news. But how do we build on this momentum to the profession's advantage? Several sessions explore outreach and forging new connections with users and other stakeholders beyond our boundaries.

Do we have a global role as archivists? Are our international colleagues similarly challenged? We gave special encouragement for proposals introducing international aspects of the questions of definition and direction, particularly from our Pacific Rim colleagues and others. The response is rewarding - an exceptional number of presenters from different countries will bring comparative points of view to topics such as outreach, education, and digital preservation and access. In a featured Global Issues Forum, Verne Harris (of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa) and David Wallace (University of Michigan) will deliberate on our responsibility in relation to archives and social justice, as SAA Committee on Ethics and Professional Conduct Chair Rand Jimerson moderates. International contributions will enrich our discussions, and we hope you join us to promote a greater sense among US archivists of being part of a worldwide community of practice.

The Program Committee heard your feedback from the 2007 program and has responded to your request for sessions that speak to the wider audience, include the small repository, cover those with fewer resources, and offer practical yet creative ideas and solutions. Look for the "Practical Perspectives" sessions tracked across the schedule, and choose among topics such as collection development, outreach in exhibits and in work with undergraduates, digital dilemmas, AV preservation, and archives management.

Be sure to plan time to support our student participants - in a featured paper session and in poster presentations - who are attending the SAA annual conference in greater numbers than ever before. And don't forget the "Professional Poster" showcase, an untapped opportunity for many of us.

Have we covered it all? No way! The agenda is so packed that we had to add a day to the schedule. The increasingly popular pre-conference workshops will be joined early in the week by the dynamic Research Forum, a forum on "Protocols for Native American Archival Materials," and several independent programs planned by Roundtables. Special events and plenaries are tucked in each conference day.

We hope that you'll join us for our own R/Evolutionary moment at ARCHIVES 2008. Meet up with old friends, and make new ones. Explore our differences and commonalities. Expect some surprises!

We'll see you in San Francisco - for a memorable learning experience and a wild ride!

~ The ARCHIVES 2008 Program Committee


SAA Is Grateful for the Outstanding Work of the ARCHIVES 2008 Program Committee!

Sheryl B. Vogt (Co-Chair)
University of Georgia

Joel F. Wurl (Co-Chair)
National Endowment for the Humanities

Ruth Bayhylle
Big Pine Paiute Tribal Archives

Beth Bensman

Peter Blodgett
Huntington Library

Bruce Bruemmer
Cargill Incorporated

James Cartwright
University of Hawaii

Su Kim Chung
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Matthew Darby
University of Texas at Austin

Valerie Komor
The Associated Press

Heather MacNeil
University of British Columbia

Mark Myers
Kentucky Department for Library and Archives

Mark Duffy
(Ex-officio - 2009 Co-chair)

Aimee Felker
(Ex-officio - 2009 Co-chair)

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SAA thanks the following ARCHIVES 2008 sponsors for their generous support:

2008 International Archives & Information Technology Exposition Exhibitor List