Remote participation: can we do it?

We talked earlier about what this new roundtable could accomplish with an official meeting room and time at SAA. But we also know that attending SAA is out of reach for many new archivists, and that wireless access, at least for the next few years, may not be available. And my hope is that this group will be active throughout the year, not just at SAA. So, a few questions we need to answer:

  • How can archivists who can’t attend SAA participate in our RT meeting? Is providing a summary of the meeting after the fact good enough?
  • How will we communicate with each other throughout the year? (Not to bias anyone, but I’ll be sad if the only online activity we have going on is on a listserv.)
  • Any other issues related to remote participation?
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What’s a new archivist, anyway?

In order to propose a roundtable for new archivists, we have to define what we mean, exactly, by “new archivists.” The RT will be open to anyone, but we need to define the subset of archivists that our RT aims to serve. I would also like to see leadership roles limited to people who meet our definition of new archivists.

There are a few ways to define new archivists:

  • Number of years as a professional
  • Number of years since graduation from a master’s program
  • Number of jobs held (e.g., someone in his/her first professional job is a new archivist)

(And maybe others? Add your ideas in the comments!)

Below I have some fictional examples of people who might consider themselves new archivists, based on the criteria above. As you can see, it gets complicated fast! Which of these people would you consider “new archivists”? Are there any useful examples I left out? If so, please add them in the comments! (I will add your suggestions to the list below.)

  1. John is currently a student in a master’s program with a concentration in archives. He’s not working in the field yet.
  2. Maygene is still in college, but she wants to eventually get her master’s and become an archivist.
  3. Peter has been a professional archivist for 20 years, and is now working on his master’s with a concentration in archives.
  4. Brenda has been a professional archivist for X years. (How big does X have to be before Brenda isn’t a new archivist anymore?)
  5. Nicholas graduated with his master’s X years ago. (How big does X have to be before Nicholas isn’t a new archivist anymore?)
  6. William has only been a professional archivist for 2 years, but in that time he has worked 5 different project positions.
  7. Frank graduated with his master’s 5 years ago and has been working as an archives assistant (paraprofessional) for the last 10 years. He is looking for a professional position
  8. Mark graduated with his master’s 5 years ago and is still looking for a job in the field.
  9. Richard graduated with a master’s in archives 5 years ago and has been a reference librarian in a public library ever since. He is now looking for his first archives job.
  10. Elizabeth has been a part-time archivist for 5 years (in number of hours, about 2 years of full-time experience).
  11. Rebecca (that’s me!) worked as an archives assistant for 3 years and has been a librarian (who does some archives things and some non-archives things) for six weeks.