Saturday, September 14, 2013

2014 Session Proposals due by October 4th for Endorsement

As session proposal season continues, the RAO Steering Committee excitedly awaits receiving your proposals for endorsement. Next year’s theme is “Ensuring Access,” and we encourage you to continue using the RAO listserv as a means to brainstorm and collaborate on possible topics. The deadline for proposal submissions is September 30. To learn more about writing and submitting a proposal, see:
The Reference, Access and Outreach Section may endorse up to two session proposals. If you wish to seek endorsement from RAO, please send your proposals to by October 4.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Mary Manning, RAO Chair, or Lisa Sjoberg, RAO Vice-Chair. We’re happy to help however we can.

Thank you, and we look forward to seeing your proposals!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Results of the RAO Election

Greetings RAO Members,

I am delighted to announce the results of the recent SAA Reference Access and Outreach Section 2013 Election.

Lisa Sjoberg will be the vice chair/chair-elect and Matt Herbison and Jodi Allison-Bunnell will  be steering committee members for 2013-2015.

On behalf of the nominating and elections committee for RAO I send heartfelt  thanks the wonderful slate of candidates who tossed their respective  hats in the ring for this year's election.

Vice-chair/Chair-elect Candidates:

Greg Kocken
Lisa Sjoberg

Steering Committee  Candidates:

Rebecca Bizonet
Jodi Allison- Bunnell
Matt Herbison
Nora Murphy

The vibrancy of an organization is measured by the quality of candidates who seek to lead it!
Onwards and upwards!

Chair, RAO 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Have You Voted Yet?

On July 1, 2013, you should have received an email from the RAO listserv giving the following information on the election:

Greetings RAO members.  We have an excellent slate of candidates this year for the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect and for two open Steering Committee positions.  In addition, there is a ballot referendum on the bylaws, which cleans up some typos and a few changes that clarify and reflect current practice.  Specifically, the chief substantive revisions establish the position of Web Liaison as a voting officer of the section, and detail the broader range of duties performed by the Communications Liaison.

To review candidate statements/bios, please visit:

To review the proposed bylaws, please visit:

To vote, please visit:  Only RAO members may vote, so we are not providing the link here.  If you did not receive the listserv email, or have deleted it without voting, please contact Kathryn Otto (kathryn.otto AT

Voting will close on July 15, 2013. Please vote now!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

RAO Steering Committee Nominations: Nora Murphy

Bio:  Nora Murphy is the Archivist for Reference, Outreach and Instruction at the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology Institute Archives and Special Collections. Since arriving in 2000, Nora has overseen public service. She runs the reference services and reading room, and has worked with many different types of researchers, from National History Day high school students to established historians. She works with faculty in different disciplines to introduce undergraduate and graduate students to primary sources. Nora routinely gives talks and presentations to alumni, staff and donors at MIT, and coordinates presentations by other staff. She collaborates on and curates exhibits (physical and virtual) is always eager to promote the use of the archives and special collections.
Prior to arriving at MIT, Nora worked with archives at the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives and Records Preservation, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the Massachusetts State Archives, and on a number of grant-funded archives projects.
Statement: I bring a breadth and depth of experience in reference having worked with researchers in a variety of different archival repositories. I have initiated and collaborated on many outreach efforts, from newsletters, to presentations, to exhibits, and enjoy working with faculty in difference disciplines (including architecture, music, history and writing) to tailor instruction sessions to the needs of a class. Whether working in a one-person archives or in a larger repository, I have worked with professional colleagues and interns to make collections available for use as quickly as possible, and to find ways to share information about our holdings. I enjoy working in archives and learning from my colleagues. I hope for the opportunity to work more closely with my RAO colleagues to share ideas about how to inform and engage researchers and others about the amazing materials we curate.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

RAO Vice Chair/Chair Elect Nominations: Lisa Sjoberg

Bio:  My current position is the College Archivist and Digital Collections Librarian at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Since I joined SAA in 2005 as a graduate student, I have been a member of the Reference, Access and Outreach Section. I have been fortunate to serve on RAO task forces (National History Day and currently as co-chair of the Teaching with Primary Sources working group). I have also served as the RAO Communications Liaison for two years, and am the editor of the RAO Newsletter.

Statement: My involvement in the RAO section has allowed me to work with amazing people and also to learn how the Section operates. This knowledge and experience is one of the skills that I will bring to the Section as the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect. Another skill I have to offer is passion. My archival bailiwick is promoting the use of collections. I am deeply invested in generating new methods and ideas for reference, access, and outreach not only at my place of employ, but in the profession more broadly. I love learning and pursuing new ideas, and I really enjoy looking at the big picture to innovate new practices and advance archives. Finally, as a lone arranger in my day job, I rely on collaboration to make progress on initiatives. Therefore, one of the best words to describe me is “connector” because I thrive on being in conversation with others and linking people to resources they are seeking whether that is information sources, people, or ideas to lead them on their path of discovery. Because of all of these interests, I have strong listening and interpersonal skills, and I enjoy serving others. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my involvement in the RAO Section, and I thank the RAO leadership for the nomination to serve as the next Vice Chair/Chair-Elect.

Friday, June 7, 2013

RAO Vice Chair/Chair-Elect Nominations: Greg Kocken

Bio: Greg Kocken is an assistant professor and Head of the Special Collections & Archives Department at W.D. McIntyre Library, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.  Prior to joining the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Greg served as a reference archivist at the American Heritage Center in Laramie, Wyoming and at the Wisconsin Historical Society before that.  He holds a B.A. degree in History, with an emphasis in Public History, and earned an M.A. degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Greg has served as a member of the RAO steering committee since 2011 and is actively engaged in issues related to reference, access and outreach.
Statement: Reference, Access and Outreach is constantly evolving, and as a community we must address challenges and embrace opportunities. If elected, I will provide the leadership necessary to strengthen existing RAO initiatives, and engage our community through new initiatives. Previously, I have been involved with RAO’s National History Day Committee and the Navigating Minimal Processing and Public Services working group. My experiences with these groups helps provide me with the foundation needed to lead RAO. An issue which I hope to address is how RAO can serve as a leader in helping our profession to address the challenges of providing access to born digital materials. RAO’s members have great ideas, and if elected I will channel those ideas to help us all better understand this and other important issues.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

RAO Steering Committee Nominations: Rebecca Bizonet

Bio: My job for the past five years as part of the Ford Historical Resources Collaborative at The Henry Ford has been to provide research and reference services to my colleagues at the Ford Motor Company Archives, drawing on the significant collection of historical records and photographs that the company donated to us in 1964.  I’ve also facilitated public access to our collections during regular reference shifts in our reading room.  It’s been extremely helpful as a processor and cataloger (which I was in a former life, and still try to do when I can) to see how the collections I’ve described are actually being used.  In addition, for over a year now I’ve been the social media liaison for Historical Resources (which includes archivists, librarians, and curatorial, conservation, and registrar staff).  This involves coordinating blog posts from recruiting writers, to educating, encouraging, and editing – along with serving as a resource on collections information for our institution’s social media manager. 

Outside of work, I’m the co-editor of Michigan Archival Association’s biannual newsletter, Open Entry, and am also a member of the MAA board.  In both roles, it’s been my mission to ensure that our members are well informed and have a voice in the organization.  As part of SAA’s Annual Meeting Task Force over the last two years, I’ve helped analyze current practices and formulate recommendations for updating and improving SAA’s annual meeting. Specifically, on the Online Access Subgroup of the task force (first as a member and later as its chair), my group and I researched and recommended ways to increase and modernize online access to the annual meeting.  Through it all, communicating our charge to SAA members and gathering and listening to their input was crucial.  The task force’s work continues this summer with the hosting of a forum for member discussion of our final report.  I’m also a member of MAC (Midwest Archives Conference), and I served on its 2011-2012 Nominating Committee.

Statement: Some running threads through my work in archives and in other professional activities, especially in MAA and SAA, have been a commitment to service, fostering constituent inclusion and participation, working as part of a team for the common good, and being on the lookout for creative ways to make things better.  As a research and reference archivist, I provide as good of an answer as I can on a sometimes tight deadline.  As an editor of both a blog and a newsletter, I relish providing a forum for many voices and shepherding my contributors’ work to completion.  I love getting the word out to a larger audience about things archival, whether it’s sharing stories about our collections with the public or promoting the work of my colleagues within the profession.  I look forward to being able to contribute my skills, interests, and enthusiasm to the RAO Section Steering Committee, and in turn to learning from my RAO colleagues.

Monday, June 3, 2013

RAO Steering Committee Nominations: Jodi Allison-Bunnell

Bio: Jodi Allison-Bunnell is the Program Manager for Northwest Digital Archives at the Orbis Cascade Alliance, where she has worked with archives and special collections repositories in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Alaska since 2007. Her prior positions were at Oregon State University, the University of Montana, and the University of Maryland. She holds an MA in American History and an MLS from the University of Maryland at College Park and a BA in English summa cum laude from Whitman College. She is active in the Society of American Archivists and Northwest Archivists. She is most likely the only archivist in the US with a cat and a vat of sauerkraut in her office.

Statement: I have observed the very dynamic activities of the RAO Section over the last four years with interest. With a broad charge and a rapidly changing landscape that brings many new opportunities, RAO is clearly in for more dynamism! I'd love to be a part of guiding and coordinating the activities of this section in these very interesting times, bringing my experience in coordinating many people across vast geographic distances and making things happen. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

RAO Steering Committee Nominations: Matt Herbison

Bio: Matt Herbison is the Reference& amp; Outreach Archivist at the LegacyCenter of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Matt writes, "I enjoy advocating for the rights of archives users—and for the obligation and right of archivists to actively cultivate and meaningfully engage as many new archives users as possible. I have a particular interest in working with K-12 and undergraduate students and teachers to bring primary sources into the classroom in both face-to-face and online settings, with the goal of building 'simple' document analysis skills all the way through to the complex task of intelligently incorporating archives into students' research processes.

Statement: For the last two-plus years, I've been working with the RAO Teaching withPrimary Sources (TPS) Working Group, as a member of the TPS Survey group and as a leader of the group creating the TPS Bibliography. I have also done stints as Web-person for MARAC and the SAA Museum Archives Section. I am active in local groups, including leading the THATCamp Philly organizing group, am a founding member of the Greater Philadelphia Digital Humanities Group (PhillyDH), and am currently Immediate Past Chair of the Delaware Valley ArchivistsGroup. I'm also a member of the 2013 cohort of the Archives Leadership Institute.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Don’t Be Shy, Apply!
Deadline for RAO Marketplace Vendors Extended
to May 23, 2013

Consider an Arranged Marriage…

There is still plenty of time to propose your own hot topic or cool demo for this year’s magical marketplace extravaganza, but here are a few suggestions that the marketplace team believe could be the perfect match for the today’s chic, super-cool RAO archivists:

Possible Cool Demos…

Elevator Speech Lab: Facilitator(s) would discuss what makes a good elevator speech (as an elevator speech delivered in 90 seconds or less) and then participants would have 5 minutes to draft a speech and  share (on a voluntary basis) other booth shoppers.

When the keyword is not enough: reference and instruction strategies for the Google generation: A moderated discussion of what works well to get researchers to move beyond the basic keyword search

Steps to obtaining your own Wikipedian in Residence: The hot new thing for outreach and access is to leverage the power of Wikipedia and its legion of users and creators by embedding a Wikipedian-in-residence.  Discussion leaders share steps and answers questions for establishing a Wikipedian-in-residence.

Possible Hot Topics…

Outreach to community archives:
How can we help groups and organizations interested in preserving their history themselves make good decisions and get the help they need?

To loan or not loan; that is the question: RAO recently supported the effort to have the SAA standards committee endorse the guidelines for loaning and borrowing with a few caveats.  Facilitators could continue the discussion started at last year’s marketplace on the challenges and opportunities of lending and borrowing.

Copy requests in the reading room: what is the current state of the safe harbor of fair use? Many archives allow patrons to make their own copies with digital cameras or with a photocopier in the reading room.  What are best practices to ensure safety and integrity of materials and that fair use is upheld.

What makes a great archives exhibit? Discuss strategies for creating engaging exhibits that add value and interest to archival materials on display

Make a Proposal…

Applying to purvey hotness and coolness is simple and easy:
 1.      Draft a brief description of the demonstration or hot topic and explain how and/or why it relates to reference, access, or outreach archivists and their work. 
2.      Come up with a working title.
3.      Determine who will lead the demo or moderate the discussion (this may be you, so talk to yourself)
4.      OR, VOLUNTEER to lead one of proposed hot topics or cool demos suggested above and use the proposal form link below to do so.
5.      Visit and complete the online proposal form
6.      Deadline to apply is May 23, 2013
7.      QUESTIONS? Contact Jill Severn at 706-542-5766 or

More details in case you missed them…

Wanted: Hot Topics and Cool Demos
 The 2013 RAO Program Committee seeks Hot Topics and Cool Demonstrations for provocative conversation and deep thinking in a hotel in New Orleans in August.   On August 15th 2013 RAO will host its second annual Marketplace of Ideas and seeks purveyors of hot topics and cool demonstrations to sell their wares to a savvy audience of RAO archivists.

What is an RAO Hot Topic?
 An RAO hot topic is an issue, a concern, an idea that has sparked recent attention in RAO circles.  It can be something that seems novel or cutting-edge; it can be an enduring issue that is garnering new attention or approaches. 

What Makes an RAO Hot Topic HOT?
 An RAO hot topic can be provocative and even fractious; it can also be surprising and funny. Above all else, a hot topic should engender passion, engagement and excitement.   

What is an RAO Cool Demo?
 An RAO Cool Demonstration is a presentation of an approach or technique that has enhanced services, simplified processes, or transformed workflows and approaches. It could be a simple fix or adaptation, or a reinvention of the wheel.

What Makes an RAO Cool Demo COOL?
 An RAO Cool Demo should be widely applicable to RAO archivists and simple enough to explain in a low-tech manner in a short period of time.  Think of it as an app that works without a mobile device.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

RAO Wants YOU!

Seeking a few good members to run for the RAO Steering Committee!

Please send us any nominations for Steering Committee for the Reference, Outreach, and Access Section. And of course, you’re welcome to nominate yourself!

Here are the (short) by-laws that explain the duties and terms of the officers:

Serving as a section leader is a great way to get involved with—or continue to be involved with—SAA, and a chance to benefit your profession. The Nominations Committee would be glad to answer any questions you might have; please feel free to contact us!

Nominees should submit their name, a brief bio, and a short statement to a member of the Nominations Committee.  Deadline: May 31, 2013. 
Each nominee will get their own post here on the blog as their nominations come in. Plus we will be posting the short statements on the RAO website and in the next issue of the RAO newsletter.

~The Nominations Committee

Rachael Dreyer,

Jean Green,

Kathie Otto,

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Teaching with Primary Sources Survey

RAO's Teaching with Primary Sources group has a survey they would like you to complete by Friday, January 25, 2013.

The goals for this survey are:
1) to obtain data on current instructional trends among archivists;
2) to identify successful methodologies and resources for instruction; and
3) to identify needs for tools and professional support for archives instruction.

By completing the survey, you will be eligible to WIN one of five copies of the recent publication Past or Portal? Enhancing Undergraduate Learning through Special Collections and Archives, containing nearly 50 widely ranging case studies on engagement with special collections. These books are very generously donated by ACRL!

Deadline to complete the survey: Friday, January 25, 2013
Estimated time to complete the survey: 15-20 minutes

Note that multiple people from a single repository can take the survey.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Seeking Nominations for Archival Advocacy Award

The J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award Subcommittee of the Society of American Archivists seeks nominations for the 2013 award.

Established in 1989, this award honors an individual, institution, or organization that promotes greater public awareness, appreciation, or support of archival activities or programs.  The individual's or institution's contributions may take the form of advocacy, publicity, legislation, financial support, or a similar action that fosters archival work or raises public consciousness of the importance of archival work.  Contributions should have broad, long-term impact at the regional level or beyond. Up to three awards may be given each year.

Recent Winners:
  • 2012:  Eve Kahn, Bebe Miller, Phillip Stewart
  • 2011:  "Who Do You Think You Are?" (NBC)
  • 2010:  The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
  • 2009:  Ross King (Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board)
  • 2008:  Data-Intensive Cyber Environments (DICE)

Eligibility: Nominees must be from outside the archives profession.  Individuals directly involved in archival work, either as paid or volunteer staff, or institutions or organizations directly responsible for an archival program are not eligible for this award.

Mailed materials must be postmarked by February 28, 2013 and should be sent to:

J. Franklin Jameson Archival Advocacy Award Committee Society of American Archivists
17 North State Street, Suite 1425
Chicago, IL 60602-4061 

Nominations may be submitted electronically; please see the nomination form for details.  For more information on SAA awards and the nominations process, please go to:>