SAA Archives Records 2022 Redux
Let’s Do It Again!


Published: September 13, 2022 by Melissa Prunty Kemp

The Society of American Archivists concluded its 2022 annual meeting in Boston this year. After a two-year in-person hiatus due to COVID 19, conference attendees enthusiastically returned to stimulating plenary sessions and workshops. Our own Professor Patricia Franks and others presented the in-person seminar – “AAA – Are you an AI aware Archivist?” Unfortunately for us, this was not one of the many virtual sessions, so we cannot benefit from the rebroadcasts of all virtual sessions available to registrants here and to receive access here.

Plenary Session 1 – The Presidential Address by Courtney Chartier, Director of Rare Books & Manuscripts Library at Columbia University emphasized that we each have value that we should each believe in and guard furiously. That value also does not have to be tied to not upsetting others in our professional or personal lives. We must give ourselves daily grace for our fears and short comings, so that we can give the same to others, especially on our most challenging days. We should strive to remember that there is joy in our profession.

If you have joined the Society of American Archivists Student Chapter or the American Library Association Student Chapter, you have probably been encouraged to volunteer on one of the many committees and boards. Finding the time to add a professional development activity to your schedule is quite difficult.

The virtual session Labor is Not Free: Examining Volunteer Labor, Equity, and Business Models of Professional Service presents a realistic look at volunteer labor in our nonprofit organizations. Increasingly, employees and faculty are impressed into after hours unpaid work, sometimes couched as volunteerism. Just as necessary is balancing these demands to maintain self-care and work-life balance.

Plenary 2: Keynote Address - Katrina Spencer and Jamillah Gabriel for an examination of overcommitment and setting professional boundaries. This session weaves in a discussion of Spencer’s ebook The Comprehensive Guide to Resisting Overcommitment with the stories of how these two Black, female LIS got acquainted with each other and learned to cope with volunteerism. They found “without much effort at all, they are often met with proposals from many enthusiastic collaborators and must exercise careful selectivity to make their workloads manageable and prevent burnout. In a field that thrives because of partnerships, teamwork, and shared vision, LIS workers must insist upon work cultures that foster balance, humane pacing, and built-in opportunities for meaningful reflection and assessment, particularly during the ongoing pandemic.” Spencer suggests valuing your own time and expertise enough to say no to requests to give it away. Their talk nicely followed the previous seminar “Labor Is Not Free.” 


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