Steering Shares provide an opportunity to learn more about the I&A Steering Committee and the issues that the committee members care about. This post come courtesy of committee member Stephanie Bennett, Collections Archivist at Wake Forest University.
What is your favorite thing about the archives profession?
There are lots of things that I enjoy about our profession – providing access to unique materials that tell stories and demonstrate history outside of rare books; working with our students, who brighten my days with their good-natured smiles and 90s renaissance denim; researchers full of questions; finding aids with well-structured, clear information. But my favorite thing is archivists! I have so much respect for my coworkers and professional colleagues – interesting people who are invested in our work and who also have developed other aspects of life, deeply. We are archivists and also artists, activists, bakers, gardeners, hikers, many adoring pet owners, movie buffs, sports enthusiasts, woodworkers, and on. I thank y’all for being generous with your skills and passions – archival or otherwise – on the clock, on the internet, and over lunch at SAA annual meetings. I do my best to pay your goodwill forward!
What made you want to join the I&A Steering Committee?
I admired the work of Issues & Advocacy and wanted to help make it happen! It can be a struggle to fit professional work into busy lives (see above), for all of us who have the means to join committees and those who do not. But committees are so useful for helping us all advance goals at work and on a broader societal level. They – we – take on some of the bigger questions or issues that I am too tired to tackle alone after a day on the job, days when I struggle to go for a run or eat some pizza (or both). Individually I’m not going to think deeply about innovative ways to talk to various communities about archives and archivists, advocating for work that confronts our biases instead of concealing them, finding sparks of inspiration from conferences that I haven’t gone to. But that’s what I&A is for! My time on the section’s steering committee has been as rewarding as I had hoped when I put myself up for nomination.
What is an archival issue that means a lot to you?
Most things that are intrinsic to archives are important to me. As a Collections Archivist, my day job centers around providing access to all, eliminating backlogs, and introducing people unfamiliar with archives to our field (not sure how many archivists can get away with not having to explain our work to the uninitiated!). But I am really, really, passionate about archives salaries and other things wrapped up in the “people at work” part of our profession: salary and other benefit negotiations, well-developed leadership in archives and libraries, fair pay for us and our paraprofessional colleagues, and all that jazz. One day, I would love to do proper research and advocacy in this area, because I think these topics are tied up in how archivists advocate within our institutions and in our communities and countries. But my brain and my planning skills haven’t caught up with my ambitions yet! I’ll let I&A know when they do.