Steering Shares are an opportunity to find out more about the I&A Steering Committee. This post is from Steering Committee member Tara D. Kelley.
How did you get involved in archives?
I grew up in a town central to Revolutionary War history, the home of the Culper Ring (you can watch fictional versions of our local heroes on AMC’s Turn), so I was always interested in history and ephemera. That, along with an insatiable appetite for reading material, brought me to my local public library, the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. They had a 16mm film projector and screened films every week. I became an avid viewer and decided I wanted to work in film production. As an undergraduate, I worked for my university’s Media Center projecting 16mm film, organizing special event screenings, and shipping prints. I noticed the quality of the prints and became more interested in the physical condition of what we screened.
After graduating and spending the first part of my career in film casting and PR, I realized that I wanted to pursue film archiving and preservation. As a first step on that path, I earned an MLIS at Rutgers University, then was accepted to George Eastman Museum’s Selznick School of Film Preservation.
Why did you get involved with the Issues & Advocacy Roundtable?
I knew I&A by reputation: they were the ones bringing important news about archives to our attention. It was particularly impressive that I&A followed up with action; for example, issuing letters of support and working in concert with other organizations to resolve problems. When I&A began to look for Steering Committee members, I hoped to be able to contribute to their efforts. Also, as an AMIA member, I hoped there would be areas where we could collaborate.
What is an archives issue that means a lot to you?
Right now, my major concern is funding, whether that’s funding for archive positions (as budgets are cut and salaried jobs with benefits are jeopardized) or for archives as a whole (as in Illinois, where the governor has eliminated funding and closed the Illinois State Museum). It’s an ongoing problem.
How would you define advocacy?
I think of advocacy as a constant public relations campaign in support of a cause. You need to inform the public about why a particular issue is important and do that in a way that is brief but memorable. I think about Keep America Beautiful’s 1971 PSA showing Native American Iron Eyes Cody crying: that had a major impact on public attitudes about pollution and the environment. What would our PSA look like? What is our message about the importance of archives?