Mid-Year Steering Share: Activating Coordinated, Compelling Advocacy

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This mid-year post is from I&A Steering Committee member Laurel Bowen, University Archivist at Georgia State University.

In the last few months, the Issues & Advocacy Section has been adding new content from the history and historic preservation professions to our Toolkit.  In a separate venture, many members worked on research teams to find information about legislators that could help SAA advocate on our behalf.  

Thinking about both projects, I wonder if we, as archivists, should (1) look to a broader range of professions for joint or coordinated advocacy; and (2) craft a value statement for archives that is as relevant and compelling as those done by the history and historic preservation professions.

We hear that “all politics are local”—that to get and remain elected, politicians must first focus on their home community and constituents.  A legislator whose constituents are passionate about their region’s wide open spaces may more readily support funds for parks, while a lawmaker representing an urban area that has fallen on hard times may lean toward funding historic preservation as a means of revitalizing that city.  

But these initiatives are not mutually exclusive.  The National Park Service manages not only natural areas but historic sites, monuments, buildings, and collections related to them.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation advocates for “saving places,” but how can either built structures or natural areas be restored to their former glory without documents, photographs, and objects that describe and illustrate what that past glory was?  Archives, libraries, museums, parks, historic sites—all provide ways to understand communities, places, and their interrelationships over time.  As a profession, we already work cooperatively with the library and history professions—why not with the historic preservation and park people as well?

Dennis Meissner tells us that compelling advocacy needs to be grounded on “data that speak to the archival value proposition:  economic impact, audiences served, outcomes achieved.”  The Preservation Leadership Forum (National Trust for Historic Preservation) has stepped firmly in that direction, linking their work to

  • engaging diverse communities;
  • “promoting building reuse in cities as essential to economic growth and vibrant communities”;
  • being environmentally responsible and creating “economically vital, socially equitable, and strong resilient neighborhoods.”

In addition, they articulate their value to those who redevelop property, and speak about their “new relationships” with historic sites (that often include collections) and with federal agencies that manage our vast historic and cultural resources.

The history profession, through the History Relevance Campaign, is also identifying “the value of history in contemporary life.”  History is essential because it:

  • nurtures personal identity in an intercultural world;
  • teaches critical 21st century skills and independent thinking;
  • lays the groundwork for strong, resilient communities;
  • is a catalyst for economic growth, drawing people to communities with a strong sense of historical identity and character;
  • helps people craft better solutions;
  • inspires local and global leaders.

And finally: “Through the preservation of authentic, meaningful places, documents, artifacts, images, and stories, we leave a foundation upon which future [generations] can build.”  At the bottom of all this…lies archives!  Surely we, as archivists, can craft as compelling, clear, and relevant a value statement as colleagues in allied professions.

As archivists, we know the inherent power of archives and how archives can be used in meaningful ways to change lives.  In my university archives are documents that: 

  • provided proof of employment and its length so an employee could claim retirement benefits;
  • enabled an alumnus to reconnect with a former classmate, pleasing both the older gentleman and his state legislator who made the request on his behalf;
  • estimated the cost of a former student’s education so he could claim his fair share of the estate of his deceased relative (and former benefactor).

Similarly, records are important in local governance. In my community, I’ve used:

  • court and county records to support our neighborhood’s position that a proposed commercial development abutting our homes wouldn’t enhance the livability of our community or the value of our homes (it was defeated);
  • planning documents to reveal that drawings of a proposed development didn’t include generous greenspace (the lawyer colored the parking areas green);
  • government engineering records to dissuade an eager decision-maker from quickly approving an expanding business that wanted to avoid connecting to a sewer line.

The archives we know, and that we use in powerful ways to change lives, are the underpinnings that support, strengthen, and insure the validity of the work of other professions.  Some of the same themes that flow through both the history and historic preservation value statements could be adapted to an archives value statement.

Ultimately, it’s about how communities can live and grow together through the years in harmony with each other and with the places they occupy.  We live in challenging times. Working with a wider variety of allies could help us compete more effectively for those dwindling resources. As one of our Founding Fathers remarked upon signing the Declaration of Independence, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Step Up to the Plate: Archival mentorship for students and early professionals

Archivists on the Issues is a forum for archivists to discuss the issues we are facing today. Today’s post about early career mentorship comes from Adriana Flores, Assistant Archivist for Acquisitions at Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center.

If you have an issue you would like to write about for this blog series or a previous post that you would like to respond to, please email archivesissues@gmail.com. Please note that opinions expressed in Archivists on the Issues posts do not indicate an official stance of SAA or the Issues and Advocacy Section.

As an early professional, my path to becoming an archivist has been filled with mentors. I have no doubt that I would have eventually made it to where I am today on my own, but I arrived much faster with the help and guidance of professional mentors. Although I was extremely lucky to have multiple mentors who prepared me for graduate school and assisted me in my career, not every young archivist is provided that service. Since I made the transition to full-time archivist and now supervise student employees and interns, I have contemplated what makes a good mentor and how to become one myself. I explored archival literature, interviewed people I know throughout the field, and reflected on my own personal experiences in the hopes of starting a greater conversation on how to become a mentor and why mentorship is vital in our field.

Be open and willing to share with others

Archivists first need to be open and willing to share with others. There have been many conversations lately about archivists moving away from a “gate-keeping” mentality, which we can practice not only with our patrons but with our students and early professionals. If archivists are more willing to openly share their experiences with others, within and beyond the profession, then our profession will be much more visible and approachable. In an article entitled “Mentored learning in Special Collections: Undergraduate archival and rare books internships,” the authors elaborate on this point in the context of student internships:

It is imperative for all library professionals, regardless of their responsibilities, to reach out to and mentor individuals who are interested in our profession if it is to remain relevant and vibrant in the future…By creating meaningful internship experiences for our students and volunteers, at the very least we will engender goodwill for our profession and create future ambassadors for our institutions and for our professional role in society. (page 60)

By being open and sharing knowledge with others, archivists can generate mentorship opportunities.

Actively look for mentoring opportunities

Next, I encourage all archivists to actively look for opportunities to become mentors. Although outgoing students will often seek out mentors themselves, it drastically helps when the mentor takes initiative and identifies mentorship opportunities themselves. If you actively search for opportunities to share knowledge, either through a workplace supervision role, at a local LIS program, or at a conference, you will foster potential mentoring relationships.

One of the easiest ways to become a mentor is through supervisory work. When asked about the main difference between a supervisor and mentor, Simmons College’s Professor Donna Webber responded:

I would say a supervisor directs and instructs work and the relationship usually ends when the internship ends. A mentor develops a long-lasting relationship and helps guide a new archivist into the profession. (Webber, personal interview)

If you are hoping to transition from supervisor to mentor, talk with supervisees about life beyond daily responsibilities. Ask them to take part in office meetings, explain the institution’s organizational structure, or discuss archival trends and issues with them. All of these actions will instill confidence in your protégé and will help guide them through their early career.

Don’t let your age or length of career stop you from mentoring

Even if you are a young archivist, I recommend thinking about becoming a mentor, even if you’re also a protégé. It is hard to recognize when you have learned enough to pass on knowledge, but in my experience it happens much quicker than you would expect. One of my past fellow interns and the current Project Archivist at Hoover Institution Archives, Paige Davenport, spoke with me recently about her attitude towards becoming a mentor as an early professional. She shared:

Although I have not participated in an official mentorship program, in my current position I supervise two graduate interns. It is my hope that I can guide them into the field as my internship supervisors did for me, as well as excite them about being part of this field. (Davenport, personal interview)

Like Paige, you do not need to participate in an official mentorship program to become a mentor. Start small if you’re concerned about your qualifications, but never pass up an opportunity to help and advise others due to your age or number of years in the profession.

Support mentorship programs

My last suggestion is to support any and all archival mentorship programs, especially programs that focus on diversity. Mentorship programs provide structure and resources for professionals who are new to mentoring, and they provide an avenue for students and early professionals to seek guidance and support. Mentorship programs are vital to the survival of the profession and programs that emphasize diversity are key to making our profession more reflective of the society we live in. Marginalized groups of people deal with many professional barriers and mentorship may help young archivists from these groups successfully navigate the workplace. If our profession is to grow and prosper, then we need to support the amazing mentorship programs that are available and create more to address the profession’s shifting needs.

Avenues for mentoring

Here are a few resources to explore if you’re interested in becoming a mentor:

  • Become a SAA Mentor. Learn more about the SAA Mentoring program here.
  • If you can attend the annual meeting, become a SAA conference navigator and advise a student or early professional through the experience. Keep an eye open on information regarding this program as SAA 2017 approaches.
  • Support any of the Association of Research Library’s diversity programs, especially their joint program with SAA, the Mosaic Program.
  • See if your regional association has a formalized mentorship program, such as the Northwest Archivist Mentorship Program or the New England Archivist Mentoring Program. If not, and you’re willing, start one up!
  • ALA’s Libraries Transform has a broader range of library and information science mentorship opportunities if none of the above hit the mark.

Please share other suggestions for mentorship opportunities and mentoring in the comments. I hope that this has been thought provoking and helpful; I owe a lot to the mentors in my life and I hope I’m doing my part by becoming a mentor myself and keeping the conversation going.

References

 

Adriana Flores is the Assistant Archivist for Acquisitions at Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center. She graduated in 2016 with her MLIS from Simmons College, with a concentration in Archives Management. Currently, Adriana is also a contributor for SNAP’s “Year in the Life” blog series.

 

Research Post: the National Security Entry Exit Registration System, past, present, and future

I&A Research Teams are groups of dedicated volunteers who monitor breaking news and delve into ongoing topics affecting archives and the archival profession. Under the leadership of the I&A Steering Committee, the Research Teams compile their findings into Research Posts. Each post offers a summary and coverage of an issue. This comes from On-Call Research Team #2, which looks into real-time issues affecting archivists and archives. 

Please be aware that the sources cited have not been vetted and do not indicate an official stance of SAA or the Issues and Advocacy Section.

In 2002, the National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS) established a national registry for foreign visitors from 25 predominantly Middle Eastern countries (Gamboa 2003). NSEERS, also referred to as “Special Registration,” was a post-9/11 program that consisted of three components:

  • non-citizens had to register when they entered the U.S.
  • they had to regularly check in with immigration officials
  • and those leaving the country were tracked to ensure that people did not remain in the country illegally

Registering entailed getting fingerprinted, photographed, and interrogated. Those in violation of this program would be arrested, fined, and possibly deported (Muaddi 2016).

The program did not operate fully, even early on; parts of the program were dropped beginning in 2003. At that time, the registration portion of NSEERS ended because it was made redundant by other programs in place or being developed (Gamboa 2003). The Obama administration suspended NSEERS in 2011, though it technically remained in place, and finally ended it in December 2016.

While in place, NSEERS resulted in zero terrorism convictions and even the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) thought the program was redundant and ineffective (Mauddi 2016). In his letter to President Obama calling for the end of the NSEERS program, Eric Schneiderman, New York State Attorney General, wrote that not only did it not reduce terrorist activity, but it encouraged mistrust and fear towards law enforcement in some communities (Liptak & Peled 2016).

The United States enacted similar programs in the recent past. From 1942-1946, the U.S. incarcerated as many as 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese descent in ten concentration camps following the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II. This program has been widely panned as unjust and a national disgrace, yet some supporters of a national Muslim registry have referred to this program as precedent (Ford 2015; Hawkins 2016). Similarly cited, Carter’s efforts during the Iran hostage crisis, 1979-1981, banned Iranians from entering the U.S. (with some exceptions for religious minorities and those with medical emergencies) and required the registration of roughly 60,000 Iranian students already in America. Experts find the comparisons don’t hold up (Jacobson 2015).

Other modern programs that are reminiscent of NSEERS include the influence of “see something, say something” initiatives in the U.S. (Mirza 2016) that mirror a DHS initiative begun around 2010; the growing network of facial recognition databases being used by law enforcement agencies across the country and globally (Newman 2016; Beaumont 2013); and the terrorist watch list, which is notorious for incorrectly including people on its various manifestations (Zetter 2016).

The Trump administration may roll back the Obama administration’s full NSEERS cancellation. Should NSEERS prove to be gone forever, the historic record demonstrates that future programs will follow.

 

Sources Cited

  • Beaumont, P. “NSA leaks: US and Britain team up on mass surveillance.” The Guardian, 2013 June 22. Retrieved 2017 February 27.
  • Ford, M. “The Return of Korematsu.” The Atlantic, 2015 November 19. Retrieved 2017 January 29.
  • Gamboa, S. “Homeland Security Ends Registration.” Associated Press, 2003 December 1.
  • Hawkins, D. “Japanese American internment is ‘precedent’ for national Muslim registry, prominent Trump backer says.” Washington Post, 2016 November 17. Retrieved 2017 January 29.
  • Jacobson, L. “Why Trump’s Muslim Ban Isn’t Like Jimmy Carter’s Actions on Iranians.” Politifact, 2015 December 17. Retrieved 2017 January 29.
  • Liptak, K. & Peled, S. “Obama administration ending program once used to track mostly Arab and Muslim men.” CNN, 2016 December 22. Retrieved 2017 February 27.
  • Mirza, W. “‘See something, say something’ culture is dangerous: How it spawns Islamophobia and keeps America insecure.” Salon, 2016 August 20. Retrieved 2017 January 29.
  • Muaddi, N. “The Bush-era Muslim registry failed. Yet the US could be trying it again.” CNN, 2016 December 22. Retrieved 2017 February 27.
  • Newman, K.H. “Cops Have a Database of 117M Faces. You’re Probably In It.” Wired, 2016 October 18. Retrieved 2017 January 29.
  • Zetter, K. “How Does the FBI Watch List Work? And Could It Have Prevented Orlando?” Wired, 2016 June 17. Retrieved 2017 January 29.

Archivists on the Issues: Disability Records Accessibility at the University of Texas at Arlington

Archivists on the Issues is a forum for archivists to discuss the issues we are facing today. Today’s post about the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries’ Texas Disability History Collection comes courtesy of UTA’s Jeff Downing and Betty Shankle.

If you have an issue you would like to write about for this blog series or a previous post that you would like to respond to, please email archivesissues@gmail.com. Please note that opinions expressed in Archivists on the Issues posts do not indicate an official stance of SAA or the Issues and Advocacy Section.

July’s oven-like heat drenched Jim Hayes’ shirt with sweat as he pulled cable for Western Electric one last time. On Monday he was going to trade his workman’s clothes for the olive drab of the Army, but today was his 18th birthday and he intended to celebrate.

Once home, he shoehorned eight of his family and friends into his 1963 Ford Fairlane and made the short drive to Fort Worth’s Lake Benbrook.  During the ride Jim’s younger brother, John, bragged that he could swim the length of a nearby cove faster than Jim. As soon as the car pulled up to the lake, John sprang from the car and sprinted into the water. John was far ahead even before Jim got out of the car, but Jim knew a shortcut and he was a fast runner. He tore across the bank to a floating barge and climbed on top of the slippery barrier rail, ready to jump over it and into the lake.

Jim Hayes acquired quadriplegia on July 28, 1967, when he lost his footing and pitched head-first into two feet of water, breaking his neck.

After the accident, Jim enrolled at the University of Texas at Arlington. In 1971, only two majors were taught in wheelchair-accessible buildings—history and accounting. Jim chose history; he hated math.

Jim had been an athletic youth and he worried about the health effects of a sedentary life in a wheelchair. In 1976 he founded the Freewheelers wheelchair basketball team, which later changed its name to Movin’ Mavs. The team brought national attention to UTA when it won four National Wheelchair Basketball Association championships in a row, establishing the school as a leader in adaptive sports. In 1989, Hayes and UTA offered the first full-ride scholarships for adapted sports in the country, forcing other universities to follow suit or lose talent to UTA.

Cover, Sports 'N Spokes, May/June 1992
“15th National Intercollegiate Wheelchair Basketball Tournament: Movin’ Mavs Successfully Defend Title,” Sports ‘N Spokes, May/June 1992. From University of Texas at Arlington. Movin Mavs Records.

When Jim died in 2008, hundreds attended the memorial service on the UTA campus and told stories of how he encouraged them to persevere. Jim’s own view of perseverance was summed up best in an interview he gave to the Dallas Morning News: “You can sit in a dark room watching TV and eating Cheetos for the rest of your life, if that’s what you want. But you don’t have to.”

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates nearly one-fifth of the population has a disability, making this the largest minority group in the country and the only one that anyone can join at any time. The history of disability leaders, activists, and milestones is often marginalized, making it difficult for members of the disability community to discover their own stories of empowerment, development, and activism.

Jim’s story is one of hundreds preserved in UTA Libraries’ Texas Disability History Collection (TDHC) online. The site, launched in 2016, makes once-hidden disability records available to researchers anywhere. The project was a collaboration between two Libraries’ departments, Digital Creation and Special Collections, and the University’s Disability Studies Minor. Funding was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act.

UTA Libraries believed it was crucial to incorporate best practices for online accessibility into the website, encompassing visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. During the website development process, UTA Libraries followed the standards issued by the Web Accessibility Initiative.

Special Collections partners were tasked with selecting 1,500 documents and photographs for the site from existing archived collections. Locating records not accessed regularly proved challenging.  A priority was to determine keywords to use for searching finding aids, since Special Collections houses few collections entirely comprised of disability records. For example, we encountered difficulty finding polio records; it took a while to learn that, decades ago, polio was often called infantile paralysis. After re-thinking our search terminology, we located many more disability manuscript and photograph records than we thought possible.

The Digital Creation department staff were responsible for project management, scanning materials, and building the website using Drupal. The chair of the Disability Studies Minor and her assistant were tasked with compiling a group of 40 oral histories, as well as advising on the site’s taxonomy.

Building for the Future

The foundational work on TDHC described above feeds into coming work by the Disability History/Archives Consortium in building a U.S.-wide portal for disability history collections. UTA researchers are already using the TDHC as a primary research tool. As a result of the project, UTA Libraries has developed expertise around designing maximally accessible websites and collecting disability-related materials. Growth of the collection and website is assured with $10,000 in additional support from UTA’s College of Liberal Arts. Connections are being made with State of Texas officials responsible for supporting disability efforts. In 2017-2018, an inventory to identify other disability-related collections in Texas will happen to inform planning of future activities.

Because of the project, the UTA Libraries has added disability records to its collection scope and is the “only repository in the state focused on collecting Texas disability history.” There remain many stories to tell.

 

Authors:
Jeff Downing, Digital Projects Librarian, UT Arlington Libraries. Jeff has been a Digital Projects Librarian at UTA Libraries for four years. During his 35 year career, Jeff has worked for a number of libraries and library-related organizations, including Amigos Library Services, the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory Library and of course UT Arlington.

Betty Shankle is the University and Labor Collections Archivist at the University of Texas at Arlington Special Collections. Betty has worked in the Archives field since 2004 and served on local, state and regional professional committees, presented at local and regional conferences, published articles, and curated several archival exhibits.

Steering Share: the Digital Library Work Behind “An Other War Memorial”

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post is from I&A Vice Chair Rachel Mandell. She is Metadata Librarian at the University of Southern California. The Mid-Year Steering Share was developed to discuss projects currently active or recently completed, either personal or professional.

Since my last steering share, I started a new position at a new university. I am now a Metadata Librarian working in the University of Southern California’s (USC) Digital Library. Fight on! Under this new title, I have relinquished some traditional archival tasks like processing collections, creating finding aids, and rehousing archival materials. However, I am still very much involved in archival description and cataloging, as one of my main responsibilities is to provide the metadata and publish collections online in USC’s robust Digital Library.

One of my current projects is to create a collection based on the work that USC professor and Pulitzer Prize winner, Viet Nguyen has conducted with his students in our digital library. The website, “An Other War Memorial: Memories of the American War” http://anotherwarmemorial.com, was developed for a class Nguyen teaches titled, “The American War in Vietnam.”

"An Other War Memorial" home page

The goals for this course are multi-faceted, “Besides learning critical thinking skills and acquiring knowledge about the war, what students will take away from the course is a set of multimedia skills and the ability to use them to share their scholarship and ideas with the general public” (http://anotherwarmemorial.com/about/ ). The multimedia skills referred to here are those involved in contributing to the website which profiles and commemorates witnesses of the war and testimonies to the dead through oral history interviews. The students themselves have been charged with conducting the oral histories in collaborative groups, using the WordPress website to construct the profiles, and also upload the videos of the oral histories using YouTube. Each profile includes background information about the interviewee along with the videos of the interviews and the transcripts, which have been organized into thematic segments depending on the content of the interview. Those profiled share a variety of experiences and perspectives as they were somehow involved or affected by the war in myriad capacities–from soldiers to civilians.

The “An Other War Memorial” website was designed with simplicity in mind, in order to empower the students to take an active role in creating this resource and reduce any technological difficulties that might have hindered the final product. The idea then is to create a resource that the students can use in their own studies, can be shared with the public, and hopefully be used by students and researchers in the future.

At the Digital Library, we are working to essentially capture the information found on the An Other War Memorial website and bring it into our digital library, thereby making this material accessible and discoverable to a wider community and user group. The important work of bringing these perspectives together into a single portal has already been done by Nguyen and his students, though I am hopeful that the new digital library environment will also yield new ways of experiencing, interpreting, and analyzing this material. We are still in the early stages of capturing the information on the website, choosing an appropriate metadata schema, and transforming the information into the new environment.  In the digital library environment, we are able to standardize certain aspects of the material, which can certainly assist in making the material more discoverable. However, we also want to retain the original content and feel of the original website, as well as preserve the students’ involvement in the development of the project.

I am so excited to be part of this project and this new team of colleagues. Keep an eye out for this incredibly interesting resource in the months to come!

Announcing Advocacy Toolkit Updates

Thanks to our steering committee member Laurel Bowen, we have successfully updated the I&A Advocacy Toolkit to include several new features! We now have a section specifically dedicated to historic preservation initiatives, including archives and the physical structures that accompany them.

In addition to historical preservation resources, the new material provides substantive ideas on how to think about the value and impact of archives, ways to craft value statements about archives, and advice on how to lobby or energize the support of decision-makers and funders.

In addition to new items, broken links have been fixed and new links have been created to provide more direct connections to relevant websites and resources!

Appropriately related to the update, please check our newest Archivists on the Issues Blog Post written by Heidi Bamford of the Western New York Regional Library Council on creating a local advocacy campaign: Library Advocacy or Climbing Mount Everest: Which Would You Choose?

Research Post: “Protect from Potential Grizzlies”: How Local, State and Federal Concealed Carry Rules Apply to Libraries, Archives, and Museums

I&A Research Teams are groups of dedicated volunteers who monitor breaking news and delve into ongoing topics affecting archives and the archival profession. Under the leadership of the I&A Steering Committee, the Research Teams compile their findings into Research Posts for the I&A blog. Each Research Post offers a summary and coverage of an issue. This Research Post comes from On-Call Research Team #1, which looks into real-time issues affecting archivists and archives. 

Please be aware that the sources cited have not been vetted and do not indicate an official stance of SAA or the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable.

Proposed and already enacted concealed carry legislation in numerous states has spurred questions regarding policies for libraries, archives, and museums. What can – and cannot – individual institutions and organizations do regarding patrons and guns given their locally applicable bills? Concerns vary not just by state and institution type, but even by possible need for concealed weapons.  For example, Wyoming’s need for weapons in primary and secondary schools may be affected by the potential for grizzly bears nearby, a suggestion posed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

On American college campuses, various state rules apply to concealed carry. Four states allow guns on campuses, six states allow for guns on campus in restricted areas, 10 states allow campuses to choose, 10 states allow storage of weapons in vehicles, and 20 states prohibit guns on all campuses. Employment status can be a factor, as well. In Tennessee, although students can only store weapons in vehicles, faculty and staff are allowed concealed carry. While these variations only apply to college campuses, laws can be more convoluted with other institutions: public or federal buildings and state parks, for example. Since libraries, archives, and museums can be within public, state, corporate, federal, or college entities, we will all be affected by concealed carry laws differently.

Proponents for concealed carry argue that states that allow it on campuses, provide improved safety and that threats to the learning environment are false. These proponents argue instead that active shooter incidents such as the Virginia Tech massacre may have ended more quickly and safely with an armed student body on hand.

People working in libraries, archives, and museums voice concerns that guns can create more violence rather than less, but they are also concerned that concealed carry can limit free speech and introduces complicated security issues. Faculty and students may not safe practicing academic freedom under the new rules. In one instance in Utah, a feminist speaker backed out of a campus event after threats were made on her life and the Utah State University could not provide increased support for her safety. Concealed carry proponents believe that such situations can be mitigated and that the university could have provided better security, albeit at increased cost and intrusiveness of individual searches.

Another, more common example of security complications can be found in archives and manuscript repositories. They typically have patrons place bulky materials, such as jackets and bags, in lockers, but having patrons remove guns can violate state laws and possibly be illegal.

Many states have been in the news for legislation regarding concealed weapons on college campuses, which covers Oregon, Minnesota, Michigan, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Texas. At the University of Texas at Austin, guns are restricted in its Tower area, due to the 1966 sniper attacks by Charles Whitman. Often, libraries are not included as restricted areas on college campuses. Some areas can be negotiated, but if a state wholly allows for concealed carry, then libraries and archives cannot create rules or policies that negate the relevant legislation. Virginia’s Richmond Public Library found this out when they posted that guns were prohibited and the Virginia’s Citizens Defense League (rightly) disagreed. After changing the rule to read that it was prohibited “except as permitted by the law,” the League still determined the language was not acceptable and protested.

Overall, it is the burden of each library, archives, and museum to determine what policies they are allowed to enact based on the laws and regulations of their state and the rules within their affiliated institutions. This poses issues for creating standards and for enacting and managing policies effectively. After all, your institution may need protection from a grizzly.

A bibliography is provided below. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and some articles may require a subscription.

All States

Texas

Tennessee

Colorado

Utah

  • Annale Renneker, “Packing More than Just a Backpack.” Journal of Law and
    Education, vol. 44, no. 2 (Spring 2015): 273-282.
  • Jennifer Sinor, “Guns on Campus Have Already Curtailed Free Speech.”
    Chronicle of Higher Education, vol. 61, no. 10., 2014 October 27. Accessed January 3, 2017. http://www.chronicle.com/article/Guns-on-Campus-Have-Already/149663

Idaho

Resources for understanding and tracking legislation

Library Advocacy or Climbing Mount Everest: Which Would You Choose?

Today’s post comes courtesy of Heidi Bamford, Outreach and Member Services Coordinator for the Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC). As archivists and archives-funding organizations continue to advocate for our institutions, WNYLRC’s work provides examples of how to structure outreach and engage with local and state government leaders.

If you are in the library world, you know how hard it is to get people to think of your work and your space as anything more than a quiet place to read a good book. And you always hear the phrase, “Everyone loves their library” to the point you want to throw down the gauntlet and ask, “Do you REALLY?!” Library advocacy can be a difficult and frustrating activity, but like the glaciers, things will eventually begin to move and people will take notice!

The Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC) began a concerted library advocacy campaign about three years ago and have been fine tuning and changing it up since that time. The first year began with office visits to New York State Senate and Assembly members representing people, and libraries, in upstate New York’s six counties. The goal during our first year was to establish a connection with each of the district offices we visited – getting to know both the representative and his or her staff – and to assess who were our best potential allies and active supporters. We sent them a quarterly e-newsletter of library achievements in their districts to keep us on the radar after the budget was passed that year.

younggoodellpic
NY Assemblyman Andy Goodell, 150th district, far back left at the cabinet corner, with staff, trustees and friends of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System and the Southern Tier Library System libraries

From the start, the intention was to make our advocacy efforts an educational experience for the legislators. We assumed their knowledge of what libraries are and who we serve was limited – which was the case with most representatives. In the second year, we worked to help them realize that libraries are everywhere. Their districts encompassed not just public libraries but school, academic, hospital, corporate, museum, historical society, and art gallery libraries! During the second year, we gave each representative a framed historic image from his or her district that had been digitized and put up on New York Heritage – a WNYLRC program services for members. We also made note of each member’s committees and their biographical information. What schools did they attend? Maybe one of our academic libraries. What were their special interests or organizations? Maybe one of our special libraries… and so on.

This year, we held district meetings at various public, school, academic and special libraries across the region, instead of going to district offices as in previous years. Library programs and services were highlighted, demonstrating our support of community lifelong education, regional economic development and quality of life! We touched on some “negative” aspects of our situation: the dire need for basic construction and renovation of many library buildings; the lack of staff to meet growing demands for library programs and services; the high cost of maintaining technology and electronic resources. But our main focus was that libraries are vibrant and necessary elements in the lives of practically everyone living in New York State! This year, we shifted the emphasis from “I love my library” to “I NEED my library.”

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NY State assemblyman Ray Walter, 146th district, left, with Amherst Libraries’director Roseanne Butler-Smith,WNYLRC Executive Director Sheryl Knab, and Nioga Library System director Tom Bindeman

Recently, we were able to meet with the Governor’s regional representative to bring our message to the executive branch. We have consistently faced our stiffest resistance to budget growth at the state level. We had no idea of the existence of this office and so were pleased to have the opportunity to bring our message to the Governor. We noticed that the office has less awareness of libraries than legislative offices, simply because it is removed from the local everyday interactions with entities like libraries! So, reaching out to make these important connections and to inform policy makers of the work we do and the impact we have on people is critical to our success – no other way around it! Our efforts are not just about the resource allocators’ awareness of what librarians’ work, but of telling them an attention-getting story of how we do it. So go on, get out there and start those glaciers moving!

Heidi Bamford has been with the Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC) since 1990, first as the Regional Archivist for the Documentary Heritage Program and more recently as WNYLRC’s Outreach and Member Services Coordinator. Before that she worked at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. after graduating with an MA from the University at Buffalo. She has two daughters who she is very proud of and who are also library supporters, both in terms of using them and often owing fines for overdue materials!

Mid-Year Steering Share: Breaking the Silence

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post is from Daria Labinsky, an archivist at the National Archives in St. Louis, who works primarily with 20thcentury military personal data records. The Mid-Year Steering Share was developed to discuss projects currently active or recently completed, either personal or professional.

In my first Steering Share, I mentioned that one of my greatest concerns is the deliberate or accidental creation of archival silences by record creators and keepers. When I wrote that post, I did not foresee how relevant this concern would become. Tweets that may be federal records are being deleted, and White House staff may be using private email accounts and encryption/deletion software to conduct government business.

And it’s possible (probable?) that efforts to hide or destroy information concerning the operations and motives of the administration will only increase. As the group Concerned Archivists has pointed out in A Statement to the Archival Community, the president’s corporations destroyed emails in defiance of court orders before he was elected.

The Federal Records Act states, “Electronic messages created or received in a personal account meeting the definition of a Federal record must be forwarded to an official electronic messaging account within 20 days.”  Likewise, the Presidential Records Act, states that the president, vice president, or member of their immediate staff may not create or send a presidential or vice presidential record using a non-official electronic message account unless they copy it to an official account or resend it via an official account within 20 days.

Some of the president’s tweets on his personal account, but not all, have been retweeted on @POTUS, the official account.

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As for the deleted tweets, under 44 U.S. Code § 2209 the president could argue that they are personal records of “purely private or nonpublic character which do not relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties of the President.”

Shontavia Johnson, professor of intellectual property law at Drake University, offers a well written and thorough dissection of the relevant issues in “Donald Trump’s tweets are now presidential records.” She closes with, “To create a full digital picture of Trump’s presidency, we may have to rely on the screenshots from private citizens or others.” Entities such as Pro Publica, whose Politwoops is capturing deleted tweets to the best of its ability, and the Internet Archive, which launched the Trump Archive to collect televised material, are among those answering her call. While these wouldn’t be federal records covered under the laws pertaining to them, they are admirable attempts to keep history from vanishing.

There are also efforts under way by public officials to fight potential historical silences. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) introduced a bill to strengthen federal records laws. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who co-chairs the Congressional Transparency Caucus, has emphasized the need to demand transparency from the presidential administration as well as from Congress.  Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) are investigating whether any laws were broken by administration staffers who were using the private email accounts.

It’s sad that any of this has to be dealt with in the first place, but it is refreshing that vigilance is not defined by party lines. The efforts of these and other people and organizations give me hope that we can turn the silence into noise.

The contents of this message are Daria’s personally and do not necessarily reflect any position of the Federal government or the National Archives and Records Administration.

Mid-Year Steering Share: Dealing with Controversial Collections-the Remnants of Racist Artifacts and Objects

Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post is from Issues & Advocacy Section chair Hope Dunbar, an Archivist at SUNY Buffalo State. The Mid-Year Steering Share was developed to discuss projects currently active or recently completed, either personal or professional.

The materials that comprise the Lester Glassner African American Experience Collection were gifted to the SUNY Buffalo State Archive & Special Collections in 2009 upon Mr. Glassner’s death. From his late teens onward he collected dime store memorabilia and other pop-culture artifacts until his collection amassed many rooms within his New York apartment and numbered into the hundreds of thousands. A significant portion of his collection centered on black memorabilia—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Collection items range from 1850 to 2005 and include a staggering span of African American depictions in pop culture within the United States.

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Upon the donation of the collection, the Archives & Special Collections had to determine how this material would be treated. Would it be displayed? Would it remain in the collection? Many items, most of the collection, depict patently racists images ranging from Sambo, Mammy, Uncle Rastus, and general “pickaninny” depictions. Archivists and librarians adhere to codes of conduct and ethics developed by both regional and national organizations, including SAA. We are taught through coursework and practical experience the complex nature of archival assessment and collection development, however we are rarely told what to do with offensive items. If we have tackled such topics, it is likely in our direct work with donors, patrons, and administration, as opposed to a formal introduction through classroom instruction.

In this instance, the Archive & Special Collections decided that the act of repressing such images would be to pretend such images, and consequently such opinions, did not exist. Instead, we framed the collection through the lens of discussion. These artifacts exist, they were produced to a mass market, and they depict cultural understandings of a historical period. Lester Glassner’s collection is extensive because he documented a full range of African American depictions through various time periods. He insisted the collection remain intact to provide context to the patron and student. Later items include positive representations such as African American Barbies, Santas, action figures, soldiers, and individual character depictions, such as Star Wars’ Mace Windu, Kendra from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Morpheus from The Matrix.

A selection are displayed in the main reading room and students who visit the department are encouraged to join the active discussion as we talk about the background and how the collection informs or clashes with their cultural perspectives. In addition, our collection page includes the historical background of the collection written by a former archivist in the department, again, to give context to the items.