Friday, August 24, 2012

University of Delaware is looking for an Affiliate Assistant Librarian

If you're comfortable working with both paper and electronic records and live or would like to live in Newark, Delaware for a couple of years, the University of Delaware Library may have a two-year temporary position for you.  N.B.:  The deadline for applying for this position is 31 August 2012.
Reporting to the Head, Manuscripts and Archives Department, this position will be assigned to special processing projects for large congressional collections. The position will work independently to accession, appraise, arrange and describe collections with text, media and electronic records. The position will apply uniform arrangement and description standards for congressional collections, and contribute collection descriptions to special collections databases using established archival standards. The successful applicant will also provide reference assistance and information about the collections, as appropriate, in support of assigned congressional processing projects. The successful applicant will also contribute to University of Delaware Library efforts to expand access to its holdings through the Internet and other digital initiatives, and may contribute to other departmental duties, as assigned.

ALA accredited Master's degree in library/information science with concentration in archival administration [required]. Experience and/or training with textual and electronic records management. Excellent oral and written communication skills for project progress reports and promotion of the collection. Strong organizational skills, project management skills, and the ability to work independently. Ability to perform physical activities associated with archival environments. Familiarity with efficient processing procedures for large collections (MP/LP), as well as DACS, EAD-XML, MARC and other metadata standards. Ability to communicate effectively and to interact well with people of diverse backgrounds.

Knowledge of twentieth-century American history and politics and historical research methods. Supervisory experience. Experience with archival description standards. Knowledge and awareness of current trends in digitization of primary source material for preservation and access. Demonstrated experience with HTML, XSLT, and web applications, EAD, XML, etc.

General Information
The University of Delaware Library makes accessible a broad range of electronic resources, including over 42,000 electronic and print journals, over 320 databases and over 26,000 videos. Library collections which are broadly based and comprehensive include over 2.8 million volumes. The Library has 275 public access workstations, 200 laptop connections and wireless access. The Library is a Member of the Association of Research Libraries, Center for Research Libraries, Coalition for Networked Information, Council on Library and Information Resources, Digital Library Federation, OCLC Research Partnership and SPARC. The Library is an Affiliate member of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) that promotes health information, education and/or access in the Mid-Atlantic Region which includes Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. More information about the Library is available at

Special collections holdings of the University of Delaware Library include books, manuscripts, maps, prints, photographs, broadsides, periodicals, pamphlets, ephemera, and realia from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. Printed collections number more than 200,000 titles and manuscript collections span more than 5,000 linear feet. The collections complement the University’s teaching programs and the Library’s general collections with particular strengths in the subject areas of the Arts; English, Irish, and American literature; history and Delawareana; horticulture and the history of science and technology. The Department has an active exhibition program, is engaged in several ongoing Web-related activities, including online finding aids to manuscript and archival collections, online exhibitions and digitization of selected collections. Additional information about special collections at the University of Delaware Library is available online at:

Vacation of 22 working days. Liberal sick leave. Generous flexible benefits program. TIAA-CREF or Fidelity retirement with 11% of salary contributed by the University. Tuition remission for dependents and course fee waiver for employee.
The University of Delaware's compensation schedule indicates that the minimum salary for this position is $39,168 and the maximum is $66,606.  The listserv message that drew my attention to the existence of this posting indicates that the successful candidate's salary will be approximately $45,000 per year.

For detailed application instructions, consult the position description.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

College of Wiliam & Mary is looking for a Digital Archivist

If you've worked with born-digital archival materials, are familiar with archival descriptive standards and mechanisms for making access tools available online, and have digitized analog archival materials and live or would like to live in Williamsburg, Virginia, the College of William & Mary -- one of the United States' oldest institutions of higher learning -- may have a job for you:
Position Summary
The Earl Gregg Swem Library actively participates in the teaching and research missions of the College of William & Mary by providing services, collections, staff, and facilities that enrich and inform the educational experience, and promote a lifelong commitment to learning.

The Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) supports the College's teaching and research mission by collecting, preserving, describing, and making accessible original manuscripts, archival materials, digital records, rare books and periodicals, photographs, audiovisual materials, and other items relating to history and culture, emphasizing Virginia, the South, Williamsburg and William & Mary.

The Digital Archivist serves as the SCRC's expert relating to all aspects of digital collections and activities; and will take a lead role in the creation, maintenance, and stewardship of digital collections in the SCRC, coordinate the SCRC's archival management system, discovery tools, and online presence via the web and social media; perform regular archival duties including reference service, outreach activities, and instructional activities with classes visiting the SCRC.

Managing digital collections will include:

  • Working with other special collections archivists and librarians to identify, acquire, and make accessible collections that were born digital as well as to create digitized collections based on the department's holdings and mission.
  • Helping develop and implement workflows and processes enabling the effective acquisition, description, access, management and preservation of a broad range of digital content, including (but not limited to) digitized manuscripts¸ audiovisual materials, and photographs; university records; websites; and personal digital archives.
  • Investigating, planning, and managing digital format conversions and migrations in conjunction with Library Information Technology staff.
  • In conjunction with the Director of the SCRC, seeking grant funding for digital initiatives and managing digital projects.
  • Serving as the department's expert on digitization and metadata standards.
  • Training and supervising student workers, volunteers, and staff in creating metadata and digitizing materials.
Managing discovery tools for the SCRC will include:
  • Working closely with SCRC, Library Information Technology, and Content Services staff to implement and maintain discovery tools related to the SCRC's collections.
  • Serving as the SCRC's expert on discovery tools, including remaining current with emerging standards and professional best practices.
  • Training and supervising SCRC students and staff in using discovery tools and encoding finding aids with EAD.
The successful candidate will have:
  • Demonstrated knowledge of digital archival and records management theory, practice, and experience with digital asset management systems such as DSpace or Fedora and with XML and digital content creation/transformation tools.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of descriptive metadata standards including MARC, DACS, and Dublin Core and of data structure standards relevant to archival control of digital collection material (ex. EAD, MODS, or METS). 
  • Strong initiative and ability to work effectively as part of a team as well as individually.
  • Working knowledge of basic office software applications.
  • Effective organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills. 
  • Ability to plan, coordinate, and implement effective programs, complex projects and service.
The College conducts background checks on applicants for employment.

Required Qualifications
The successful candidate must possess a Master's degree in Library Science, Archival Science, or Information Science with an emphasis in archives and digital projects from an American Library Association accredited program or international equivalent, or a master's in a related program with an emphasis in archives and digital projects at the time of appointment.

At least two years' experience working with digital content in a special collections or archives setting; experience in using an archival management system such as Archon or Archivists' Toolkit; experience in digitizing special collections materials such as manuscripts and photographs and demonstrated knowledge of best practices and standards for digitization. Effective organizational, interpersonal, and communication skills.
Preferred Qualifications
Experience with Archon. Experience with DSpace. Experience providing reference services in a university special collections or archives setting.
The salary range for this position is $42,000-$48,000 per year, and detailed information about benefits is readily available online.

This posting will remain open until the position is filled, but review of applications will commence on 20 August 2012.  Consult the position description for detailed application instructions.

Monday, August 13, 2012

SAA 2012: archives and social justice

Of all the sessions I attended at this year's annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists, “In Pursuit of the Moral Imperative: Exploring Social Justice and Archives” was the most thought-provoking and satisfying. I had the option of attending not one but two electronic records-focused sessions during the same time slot, but this one promised to speak to the deeper convictions that I bring to my work. I enjoy working with records and messing around with digital stuff, but these things are only the means to an end: doing whatever I can, in my own very small way, to help build and safeguard an equitable and open society.

Imagine my surprise when the cartoon above popped up on my Facebook feed this morning. I've often referred to appraisal as the “archival superpower” – the ability to determine who is or is not reflected in the historical record – and in its funny way this cartoon really drives home the extent of the power we wield. (Thanks to Russian Serbian archivist Arhivistika for posting it to her Facebook feed, archivists around the world for making it go viral, and my colleague Suzanne for sharing it with me and all of her other friends.)

All three presenters are still graduate students at Simmons College, two of them were presenting at a conference for the first time, and all of them gave polished presentations that adhered scrupulously to the session's time limits. Some of my more seasoned colleagues could take a lesson from these rising archivists.

 Noting that archivists often link their work to social justice issues but don't define “social justice” with any precision, Erin Faulder asserted that archivists need to move beyond their usual focus on human rights and governmental accountability and think of social justice as an everyday archival concern. Citing the work of philosopher Iris Marion Young, whose theory of social justice moves beyond issues of equal access to and distribution of resources and asserts that the profession would benefit from examining the work of philosphers and political scientists who have attempted to define social justice. Drawing upon the work of Axel Honneth, who asserts that recognition of an individual's dignity is a prerequisite of social justice and that injustice is the withholding of this recognition, she noted that archivists are the keepers of materials documenting this recognition (or lack thereof) and that our collecting efforts in and of themselves help to legitimize individual identity Faulder also asserted that archivists should look to the work of Iris Marion Young, who moved beyond issues of equitable access to and distribution of economic resources and asserted "social justice concerns the degree to which a society contains and support the institution for the realization of these values: (1) developing and expressing one's experiences, and (2) participating in determining one's actions and the conditions of one's actions." Young stressed that oppression is always contextual and that it often takes the form of myriad small actions, and Faulder noted that the processes of oppression that Young identified – economic exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism and violence – almost always leave records behind.

Faulder ended with a provocative question: what if we sought to document the social forms of oppression, not identities, and started pointing out to political scientists and philosophers that our records support their theories?

Amanda Strauss focused on the work of Chilean archivists who have sought to document the extrajudicial killings, torture, and other human rights violations that took place during the seventeen-year dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet and its broader implications for archival practice. As Strauss noted, the Chilean archivists engaged in this work recognize that it is inherently political -- some Chileans still are still ardent defenders of the Pinochet regime -- and many of them are actively involved in the Chilean human rights movement, which has placed great emphasis upon documenting the regime's abuses. Noting that social justice is based upon the premise that every person has inalienable rights (among them the right to be recognized as a person before the law, not to be tortured or punished unjustly, and to be free in thought and worship), Strauss offered her own definition of social justice. Drawing upon Norwegian archivist Goodman Valderhag's assertion archivists can collect the records that enable courts, tribunals, and legislatures to pursue social justice, James O'Toole's conception of a moral theology of archives, Latin American liberation theologians, she asserted that for archivists, social justice means service to the society one documents.

As a concrete example of this sort of service, she cited the Museum of Memory in Santiago, Chile, which actively seeks to collect materials that shed light upon the people who actively committed abuses, those whose quiet consent allowed the regime to keep operating, and those who suffered at the hands of the regime. In an effort to ensure that all Chileans have access to its holdings, the museum has created numerous traveling exhibits that bring documents out of the stacks and into spaces in which a wide array of people can access them. Strauss argues that this practice challenges “the archival temple” and makes it plain that these documents are owned not by the archives but by the Chilean people themselves and that the acquisition of human rights archives is, in the final analysis, not about the archives but about the men, women, and children whose rights were violated by the regime. Strauss concluded that the call of justice requires that archives be open, and although I can think of more than a few instances in which withholding specific records would better protect the rights of individuals, I generally agree with her. I'm also heartened by her closing assertion concerning the nature of archival power: if social justice requires that the archivist serve the community, allowing the community to create the archives allows for the sharing of power between the two. Archives should be places for discussion and the finding of common ground, not remote temples staffed by people oblivious to the ways in which their collecting activities may reinforce or subvert existing inequalities.

 Jasmine Jones focused on the development of community-based North American archives documenting the Ukrainian famine of 1931-1932, which are spaces for debating – on the Ukrainian emigrant community's own terms – the contours of their experiences and fostering transgenerational memory of what transpired. These archives were established because of the archival silence that surrounded the famine: the Soviet government, which pursued agricultural policies that caused the famine, actively sought to obscure its role in causing the famine and restricted access to archival records documenting its policies and their impact upon the Ukrainian people. Even after the Soviet Union collapsed and its archives were opened, the continued silence of the Russian government has prompted Ukrainian emigrants living in the United States and Canada to continue documenting the experiences of famine victims and survivors.

Jones emphasized that the Soviet conception of multiculturalism required that one identify as primarily Soviet – and that doing so required that one suppress one's past and normalize one's conception of self so that it matched that articulated by the state. However, one does not forget trauma, tragedy, or the details of one's struggle to survive, and the men and women who started gathering materials documenting the famine were trying to take back their own sense of self-direction by rejecting Soviet conceptions of culture and self and claiming their status as survivors.

As Jones pointed out, the Soviet regime was able to keep the true causes of the famine under wraps until the 1970s. As a result, the community-based archives established by Ukrainians living in North America were for decades the only repositories that contained substantial bodies of material documenting the famine and its impact. Moreover, these archives also collected records and other materials that documented life in Ukraine before the famine; some mainstream repositories collected a few Ukrainian materials, but only the community-based archives reflected the multiplicity of Ukrainian voices and experiences. The Soviet Union's collapse led to the opening of some Soviet archives, but large quantities of records are still off-limits to researchers. As a result, the community-based North American archives remain an essential source of information about one of the greatest human rights abuses of the 20th century; the predominance of oral histories and eyewitness testimonies within their collections may pose some methodological problems, but the fact remains that these materials played a key role in shaping discourses that countered the official Soviet explanation of the famine's causes.

Jones concluded by citing David Wallace, who has stressed the need for archivists to be aware of the conditions under which knowledge is produced and to reach out to community-based archives.

I'm of two minds about community-based archives. In some respects, I see the emergence of community-based repositories as a sign that the archival profession has failed to serve a segment of the community to which it is answerable. Community-based archives documenting the lives of LGBTQ people dot the landscape because until very recently, mainstream repositories either didn't want to collect materials documenting the lives of “those people” or were afraid that donors or other stakeholders would object. The emergence of community-based archives documenting the Ukrainian emigre community is a sign that mainstream archives weren't paying attention to the emerging emigre communities in their midst – in no small part because their staff lacked the language skills needed to do so.

At the same time, I'm always awed by the passion and commitment that community-based archives display. The LGBTQ people who established community-based archives were convinced that LGBTQ people had worth and a history that was worth documenting, and the Ukrainian emigres in Canada and the United States established their own archives in part because they were not willing to allow the Soviet Union to define their sense of self or paper over their experiences. For community-based archives, gathering the historical record isn't a workaday activity but a political, psychological, and moral imperative. Moreover, community-based archives help to broaden the reach of archival knowledge. Most of the volunteers who start community-based archives aren't professional archivists, but, at least in my experience, most of them want to care for their holdings properly and actively seek out advice and those that don't may have good reasons for not doing so. I also know several top-notch archivists who were pursuing other careers when they began volunteering in community-based repositories, realized that they had a real passion for archival work, and ended up getting graduate degrees in history or library/information science.

During the question-and answer segment, a couple of interesting issues came to the fore. The first centered upon how to avoid coming from a place of privilege, and all of the participants emphasized the need to be aware of how one's own background shapes one's experiences and the need to respect differing experiences and perspectives. Moderator Terry Cook made what I thought was a particularly important point: some communities may experience our ways of acquiring, preserving, describing, and providing access to records as small actions that contribute to their oppression, and we ignore this possibility at our peril. Another hot issue: how do archivists help people come to grips with their mixed histories of both being oppressed and actively oppressing others? Faulder suggested that Young's focus on the processes of oppression may help us stay focused on the records documenting these processes and remind us that we cannot pick a “side” and that we should document people's experiences as broadly as possible. Jones emphasized that we need to promote the idea that our repositories are home to a multiplicity of voices.

Terry Cook followed up this question by asking the panelists whether we should document the lives of neo-Nazis, homophobes, murderers, and the like. Jones concluded that we should focus on documenting all voices, refraining from telling people what to think, and give people the tools to make their own choices. I'm not perfectly happy with this answer. I have no problem, in select circumstances, with archivists asserting that they document some governments, organizations, or individuals precisely because these governments, organizations, or individuals were, in an explicit and sustained manner, actively committed to engaging in the processes of oppression. However, this is an argument that should be deployed with great care and restraint; for example, it's an appropriate approach for documenting Pinochet-era Chile but not for, whatever its failings, the present-day Chilean government. I think that, in most cases, Jones's position is the prudent one.

 I'll end this post with Terry Cook's provocative closing statement. When Chilean human rights activist Ariel Dorfman gave the 2010 Nelson Mandela Lecture, he asserted that communities give themselves the chronicles they need and that nations whose stories depend upon the suppression of some voices are building their foundations upon sand. We need to start thinking about archival documentation in the same way.

Friday, August 10, 2012

SAA 2012: electronic records in political collections

I spent most of yesterday afternoon contending with a migraine, so my memories of yesterday's “Share a Byte! A Practical, Collaborative Approach to Electronic Records in Modern Political Collections” session are a bit vague in spots, but I was so impressed with both presentations that I feel compelled to write about them. I only hope I can do them justice.

The first presenter, Jennifer Huebscher of the Minnesota HistoricalSociety, discussed her repository's quick-and-dirty but highly effective approach to increasing access to electronic records. She focused on the electronic records of former Governor Timothy Pawlenty, who was exploring a presidential run at the time the records were transferred, and on the records of a gubernatorial redistricting commission.

From the start, the Minnesota Historical Society's collaborative relationship with the Office of the Governor smoothed the way. The records were covered by a retention schedule that was devised during the tenure of Pawlenty's predecessor, and as a result Pawlenty's staff knew that certain types of records should be kept. Toward the end of Pawlenty's second term, his staff contacted the Minnesota Historical Society and then arranged an in-person meeting to discuss the impending transfer.

At the end of the year, the Office of the Governor placed the records on portable media and gave them to the Minnesota Historical Society. Owing to its discussions with the governors' staff, the archivists had a clear sense of what to expect, were able to compare the files it had in hand with the list of files it anticipated receiving, and were able to obtain a missing set of files from Pawlenty's staff

The files consisted of image files, sound files, and one moving image file. The image files, which consisted of digital photographs of Governor Pawlenty and the First Lady, were transferred on two DVD-R discs and consisted of 1,740 files, most of which were in JPEG format but also included some TIFF, PDF, and BMP files. Images of the Governor were placed on one disc, and images of the First Lady were placed on the other, and each disc contained nine folders – one for each year the Governor was in office. The file names ranged from descriptive to vague, and the naming conventions used for images of the Governor differed from those used for images of the First Lady.

Some of the sound files were transferred on CD and DVD, and Minnesota Historical Society harvested others from the Web using HTTrack. Most of the 410 files were in MP3 format, but others were WAV or CDA files, and one was an MP4 file.

Minnesota Historical Society's electronic records archivist copied the files onto a secure Storage Area Network maintained by the state's Enterprise Technology department, and staff continue to run checksums periodically; however, a full-fledged framework for preserving these files has yet to be developed.

Internal collaboration made the records broadly accessible. The electronic records archivist produced a set of copies that cataloging staff processed and described, and the two worked together to figure out how best to provide access to them. Owing to significant public and media interest in the files, Huebscher and her colleagues sought to apply the principles of More Product, Less Process processing. They didn't alter file names or the overall arrangement of the files unless duplication or other problems made doing so absolutely necessary, they didn't create a set of preservation masters in normalized formats, they didn't add any extra metadata, they didn't do any additional research that would have enhanced description of files that had non-descriptive or undated file names. They created the finding aids describing the records by using a simple template, extracting file names, and using matching the hierarchical arrangement of the finding aids to the hierarchical arrangement of the files themselves.

The finding aids also facilitate access to the files themselves. The sound recordings finding aid covers a mix of born-digital files and physical cassettes and CDs, the display is simple and uncluttered, and the access copy of each born-digital file is hyperlinked in a field so users can easily download the files; the finding aid also includes file sizes to that users could estimate download times. The photographs finding aid includes a thumbnail illustration for each photograph (housed within a tag), and the amount of description varies depending upon information provided with each photo.

The Minnesota Historical Society took a similar approach to making accessible geospatial data created by a gubernatorial redistricting commission, and plan to use the procedures they developed when processing the Pawlenty records and the redistricting commission files to make other records transferred on disc accessible via the Web.

I was in pretty bad shape by the time Jim Williams of Middle Tennessee State University's Albert Gore Research Center began discussing his institution's efforts to rescue two U.S. Representatives' constituent service files, so my notes and my memory of his presentation are both deficient; as a result, I'm limiting my comments to the portions of the presentation I remember semi-clearly.

The constituent services files Williams and his colleagues sought to preserve were created using Lockheed Martin's Intranet Quorum (IQ) application. The offices of many U.S. Representatives use IQ to track correspondence, store constituent contact information, and track the progress of constituent cases. IQ is proprietary, and each office that uses it pays roughly $60,000 per year to do so. Lockheed can convert the data in IQ systems to a more user-friendly format, but there is a cost associated with doing so.

Middle Tennessee State University was able to persuade the U.S. Representatives who donated their records to pay for the conversion of their IQ data, but other repositories may find themselves forced to pay for conversion or to convert the data themselves. As a result, the university hopes to take the lead in developing ways to reconstruct IQ databases and to collaborate with other archives seeking to to the same thing. Anyone interested in participating in a consortium devoted to preserving IQ data should contact Williams at

Image:  Light fixtures in Sapphire Room OP, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, 10 August 2012.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tennessee is searching for a Records Management Director

No SAA-related blogging today; the effects of air travel, time change, and sleep deprivation have really caught up with me, and I'm heading to bed in a few minutes.

If you're an experienced records manager who is comfortable working with both paper and electronic materials and who lives or would like to live in Nashville, the Tennessee Department of General Services may have a job for you.
To develop, lead and direct the State of Tennessee’s Records Management program, including administrative, fiscal, legal, evidential, and historical records; and to ensure state-wide compliance with State’s statutory policies, guidelines and procedures as interpreted by the Public Records Commission (PRC), the Secretary of State (SOS), the Electronic Records Committee (ERC), and DGS Chief Legal Counsel and Executive Management.


Records Management Leadership: Provide executive leadership and oversight for the DGS Records Management team responsible for assessing, monitoring, analyzing, interpreting, training, and assisting all State agencies in proper records management to ensure state-wide compliance with State of Tennessee statutory policies, guidelines and procedures as interpreted by the Public Records Commission (PRC), the Secretary of State (SOS), the Electronic Records Committee (ERC), and DGS Chief Legal Counsel and Executive Management. Ensure that all statutory state and federal laws are followed when storing, disposing, or converting hardcopy records to electronic storage mediums.

Strategic Records Disaster Planning: Recommend and assist Executive Management, agency records officers/coordinators and/or agency general counsels in developing their disaster recovery plans which include: storing records off site at the State Records Center (Richards & Richards); implementing established evacuation plans; using records management (RM) tools such as retention schedules and essential records reports in critical situations; surveying damage, and reporting back to Executive Management and the PRC what strategies have been implemented.

Research: Research established records management benchmarks and best industry practices used in both the public and private sectors. Serve as the liaison between IT and the Records Management team for the development of criteria for needed software applications to improve records management processes across the State. Stay current on latest guidelines and standards governed by the National Association of Government Archives & Records Administrators (NAGARA), and the Generally Accepted Recordkeeping Principles (GARP) as set by the Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA). Reporting: Present monthly and quarterly status reports to the Public Records Commission (PRC), agency records officers/coordinators, and general counsels, and to DGS Executive Management as required, to include recommendations, findings or progress-to-date on any RM issues.

State Records Center: Oversee the operation of the State Records Center currently under contract with Richards & Richards to ensure compliance with all State of Tennessee laws governing the storage and disposal of State records. Requirements


Basic Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience in records management or classified document control for an organization or institution.

Preferred Requirements: Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) and 10 years of government records management experience and a recognized certification in records management. 

  • Knowledge of statutory, regulatory and other legal requirements associated with information resources management, records management, privacy, and access for all record mediums 
  • Knowledge of management processes involved in the life cycle of records, including filing and retrieval systems, automated and manual records schedules, records appraisal, archival management 
  • Knowledge of records and information management concepts and practices as described in the handbooks of the Institute of Certified Records Managers and the Academy of Certified Archivist 
  • Knowledge of recordkeeping processes associated with the creation, maintenance, use and disposition of electronic records
  • Knowledge of Information Technologies
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills
  • Excellent Time Management skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Ability to problem-solve
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Keen attention to detail
N.B.  The position posting, which contains detailed application instructions, makes no mention of an application deadline.  However, the 9 August Council of State Archivists listserv message that alerted me to the existence of this posting states that "applications will be accepted for the next two weeks."

The posting doesn't include any information about salary or benefits, but the State of Tennessee's employee compensation plan indicates that the minimum monthly salary is $3,354 and the maximum monthly salary is $5,368.  General information about State of Tennessee employee benefits is also available online.

The posting

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

San Diego's East Village and SAA's LAGAR meeting

I'm in San Diego, California for Beyond Borders, the 76th annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists and will blog as much as I can during the next few days. 

I was initially dismayed to discover that the "bayfront" view from my room at the San Diego Hilton Bayfront features not only San Diego Bay and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge but also a massive Dole Food Company trucking facility, masses of railroad tracks, and a marine shipping terminal.  However, I find myself liking it more and more.  I find transportation infrastructure fascinating, and San Diego's deepwater harbor is its raison d'être.  Moreover, the Hilton -- San Diego's newest large hotel -- is adjacent a new Major League Baseball stadium, a new shopping mall, a convention center, and other recently built leisure facilities.  I would much rather look upon San Diego's unglamorous shipping facilities than upon a tourist fantasyland.

I had a little free time this morning, so I ventured into the city's East Village neighborhood in search of postage stamps and non-perishable breakfast food.  The East Village is the largest of San Diego's downtown neighborhoods -- it encompasses some 130 blocks -- and until recently was down on its luck.  Artists seeking modestly priced living and working space were drawn to the area, but many buildings were vacant and many social service agencies serving the homeless were also located there (sounds kind of like my neighborhood in Albany).

Completion of the new baseball stadium in 2004 led to redevelopment of much of the neighborhood, but it still retains something of its gritty character . . . and amidst all the new construction you occasionally find an older building that has survived.  This pair of structures located a stone's throw away from the intersection of 9th Avenue and E Street sits between two 21st-century apartment buildings.

The downtown branch of the U.S. Post Office, which spans E Street between 8th and 9th Avenues and is directly across the street from the Central Library branch of the San Diego Public Library, is another legacy.  It was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and opened in 1937.  I'm a sucker for Art Deco architecture, and I regret that I couldn't get a better picture of it; I simply wasn't up to standing in the middle of 8th Avenue or crossing 8th Avenue and dealing with the scary-looking guy who kept glowering at me as I took pictures.

The building features nine glazed terra-cotta panels that depict "The Transportation of the Mail." They were designed by Los Angeles sculptor Archibald Garner, who won a U.S. Department of the Treasury competition to create the facility's artwork and are tied together by a line of text:  "Through science and the toil of patient men thought traverses land and air and sea."

I'm particularly fond of the reliefs depicting air mail service . . .

. . . and marine transit of the mail.

Unlike many WPA-built Post Office facilities, the interior of San Diego's downtown Post Office doesn't feature any painted murals.  However, San Diego abounds in murals.  This mural decorates the 8th Avenue exterior of the restaurant Pokéz, which sits at the intersection of E Street and 8th Avenue.

And this mural depicting a group of musicians is located on a building just across 8th Avenue from Pokéz.

I headed back to the hotel to catch up on some work-related e-mail, attend the 2013 Program Committee meeting (yep, I'm helping to shape next year's annual meeting program), and meet with a Canadian colleague, and then I headed off to what for me is always an SAA highlight:  the meeting of the Lesbian and Gay Archives Roundtable (LAGAR).  LAGAR, which exists to promote archival documentation of LGBT people and communities and the interests of LGBT archivists, is one of SAA's most energetic and good-natured groups, and I always leave LAGAR meeting wishing that I could spend more time in the company of my fellow LAGAR members. 

I didn't get the chance to read the most recent issue of LAGAR's newsletter before heading to San Diego, so I was surprised -- and very pleasantly so -- to discover that pioneering lesbian historian Lillian Faderman was one of the featured speakers.  (The other featured speakers were representatives of the Lambda Archives San Diego, but I'm going to refrain from blogging about their presentation until after I visit the Lambda Archives this Saturday.)

Driven by the desire to help create something that was almost completely lacking when she came out in the 1950s -- a written history of LGBT people -- Faderman began researching women's romantic and sexual relationships as the gay rights movement began taking shape in the early 1970s.  Her talk contrasted the challenges she and other pioneering historians faced in the "bad old days" with the much changed situation that exists today.

Faderman learned quickly that one couldn't trust published sources.  Her research began with Emily Dickinson, who wrote forty poems that were obviously about a woman.  Faderman discovered that the woman in question was undoubtedly Susan Gilbert, who eventually married Dickinson's brother . . . and that Susan Gilbert Dickinson's daughter, who produced a book documenting the correspondence between the two women, exised many emotionally intense passages.  The letters were subsequently published in their entirety in a multi-volume collection of Dickinson's correspondence, but anyone seeking evidence of Dickinson's passionate attachment to another woman would have to wade through a ton of other letters.

Moreover, the archival profession hasn't always been particularly helpful. Harvard's Houghton Library holds the Dickinson-Gilbert letters, but neither the catalog record nor the finding aid describing this collection hint that scholars of LGBT history might be interested in them.  Other repositories have, for a variety of reasons, withheld materials:
  • Fear of shocking donors or, in the case of colleges and universities, parents and alumni.  Anna Mary Wells, who was writing a biography of Mount Holyoke College president Mary Woolley, discovered a trove of love letters between Woolley and Mount Holyoke professor Jeanette Marks in an unprocessed collection held in the college's archives.  Marks preserved these letters, donated them to the college, placed no restrictions on access to them, and quite plainly knew that the letters would be interpreted -- and correctly so -- as evidence that she and Wooley were lesbians.  However, when Mount Holyoke president David Truman learned of Wells's discovery, he tried to suppress the letters and to bar Wells from quoting them in her book.  He backed down only after the American Historical Association, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and other scholarly groups protested, and Woolley's papers were eventually opened to "qualified researchers."
  • Misguided desire to "protect" prominent people.  The Minnesota Historical Society holds the papers of Henry Whipple, the first Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, and his wife, Evangeline Simpson Whipple.  For years, the repository refused to process of make accessible one of the fourteen boxes in the collection -- the box that held the passionate correspondence between Evangeline Simpson Whipple and Rose Cleveland, the sister of U.S. President Grover Cleveland.  Evangeline Whipple Simpson deliberately preserved these letters, but the Minnesota Historical Society refused to make them accessible until historians began pressuring it to do so.  Fifty years after the letters were first accessioned, they were finally opened to researchers.
  • Descendants' insistence.  When Jonathan Ned Katz, another pioneering historian of LGBT people, attempted to gain access to the emotionally intense correspondence between birth control activist Margaret Sanger and Dr. Marie Equi, Sanger's son barred him from doing so and asserted that only Sanger's activist career was of any interest to the public.
Noting that circumstances are quite different today, Faderman made an argument that I find quite sensible:  we need to have archives devoted to documenting the experiences of LGBT people and LGBT archivists planted in mainstream institutions.  Owing in no small part to "plants" who have gently educated their colleagues, Faderman can now readily find materials in mainstream libraries and archives, staff at these institutions can be counted upon to provide access to materials of interest to her, and finding aids often point her directly to collections of interest.  And as one of my fellow LAGARites pointed out, the process is reciprocal:  the existence of historians of LGBT people and communities enables archivists to make a compelling case for publicizing the existence of their LGBT holdings.

By the way, Faderman's own papers are held by the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives in Los Angeles, which has entered into a collecting partnership with the University of California at Los Angeles, which has begun digitizing them.