SCA Conference was a ‘Good First Experience,’ says Student

iStudent Blog

Published: August 8, 2023 by Sarah Lewis

SJSU iSchool Exhibit Booth at the 2023 SCA ConferenceThe Society of California Archivists conference was such a great experience. The highlights for me were the local library and archive tours, presenting a poster, and networking with professionals with diverse experiences. 

The first day of the conference brought lots of opportunities to explore libraries and archives in Sacramento. This was my favorite part of the experience! I was only sad I had to choose and couldn’t attend a tour every hour.

The first stop was the California State Archives. I really enjoyed the favorite artifacts and stories shared by the archivist that led the tour. We spent a lot of time in the conservation area, seeing fascinating projects and asking lots of questions. The digitization lab was interesting since it coincided with learning about digitization equipment in one of my courses.

Next stop was the State Capitol Tour, a fascinating walk through the building. I then hurried next door to the California State Library, California History Room Tour. The librarians there had laid out lots of examples of interesting collections.

Sarah Lewis standing in front of her poster at the SCA 2023 ConferenceThere were several other students I had met in my classes and through the SJSU SAA Student Chapter, and it was so great to meet up in person at the evening reception. We got to network with each other and archivists from all over the state. I loved meeting new people and hearing about their work and projects. I met one archivist from the Getty who said the project she was working on just hit a linear mile! Other archivists had backgrounds in historical societies and smaller museums, so it was nice to meet professionals working in many different settings.

The second afternoon I was excited for the poster session. I had spent lots of time designing my poster, so it was great to finally show it to the world. I had my poster up early that morning, giving the best opportunity for people to see it. It was fun to engage with those who attended, explain my project, and meet new people. One person I met was an SJSU graduate, and we had taken the same class. He told me how his current job had grown out of that class project, and talked about his experience working for small historical societies. I loved being able to feel like I added to the archival conversation, even as a student.

Overall, the conference was a really great experience. I am especially glad I attended, since they have since announced that next year’s conference will be virtual only. I wanted to attend the SAA conference this year, but because of a family conflict, I couldn’t go. I know that conference is much bigger, but I had heard that the SCA conference would be a good first experience – smaller, more intimate, and easier to network and talk to people. I definitely found this to be true. I was so glad to get the experience of presenting a poster, and it was so nice to be around others that find archives as exciting and interesting as I do!  

Editor’s Note: The SJSU iSchool highly encourages students to attend professional conferences but also realizes that it can be cost prohibitive. Travel grants are available to eligible students to help lessen the financial burden and increase conference participation. iSchool student Sarah Lewis received one of these travel grants.


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