Friday, February 19, 2010

A is for ????

How do you define Access (as in Reference, Access and Outreach)?

During the breakout discussions at SAA, this question came up for the RAO mission discussion and it's come up in several email conversations. Do we have a clear enough definition of access to keep the word in our title?

While I'm writing this in part because all the RAO board members have committed to writing blog entries, I really interested in the question and generating some comments.

A recent opportunity on my campus to be part of a multi-disciplinary panel series around the concept of memory (how different disciplines define and work with it), I was reflecting on the inherent politics of archives - who gets to control information --what is gathered and who has access? Those questions generated a fair amount of interest from historians and psychologists.

But are they of interest to the members of our Section? What is your definition of access? If you were to design a workshop around access, what would the content be?
Is it about who gets to use materials? and what barriers still exist or or being created with digital access?
or addressing physical barriers (ADA compliance issues)?
Is it about description - generating more access points, more subject headings?

How does it relate to or differ from Reference and Outreach - is it already implicit in those activities?

I'll add my reflections in a later post, but I want to start with questions and the conviction that RAO members will want to chime in on these questions - so hit that comment button and share your thoughts and definitions and experiences!

Jan Blodgett

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

National History Day Committee Volunteers: Back on the Road Again

The Reference, Access, and Outreach (RAO) Section of the Society of American Archivists is seeking enthusiastic volunteers to join the section's National History Day Committee. Volunteers are not required to be members of the section and archivists with varying levels of experience with National History Day including as archivists, judges, or participants are encouraged to participate.

Members of RAO have been engaged in National History Day (NHD) for some time (see the RAO website and the most recent issue of the RAO newsletter for more information). The NHD Committee is charged with sharing information about and advocating for NHD amongst archivists and archival repositories, the NHD organization, and NHD participants. Potential activities of the NHD Committee include: disseminating information to the archival community; reviewing resources of potential use to archivists; compiling bibiliography for and from archivists participating in NHD; exploring and fostering collaborations with other groups; and others.

Expressions of interest should be sent to NHD Comittee co-chair Doris Malkmus ( In particular, anyone interested in developing its online presence for archivists and educators is encouraged to join.