How to get involved in archival organization?

Blake Relle MARCNEA Conf Boston 2015
Blake Relle speaking at NEA/MARC Conference Boston 2015

As a graduate student, I joined the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and The Louisiana Archives and Manuscripts Association (LAMA). Upon graduating, I asked myself, “How does a person like me get involved in an archival organization?” 

How can new members or recent graduates participate in archival organizations?

  1. One way to get involved is to offer your assistance. In other words, make yourself available.
  •  One could volunteer to be a speaker at a conference. I wanted to get involved in the archival profession, but I did not know how to go about  doing so. I received an email from Casey Davis that said she was looking to put together a session for the joint meeting of NEA and MARAC (Spring 2015 meeting). I emailed and ask how can I help? Her reply was “Can you come to Boston?” My answer was “Yes.” In other words when one gets an email from someone asking for assistance, offer your assistance.
  • One can write something for the archival organization’s newsletter. For example, I am updating the history of the Society of Southwest Archivist and writing an article on “Providing access to non-digital archival collections to people with disabilities.”
  • One could research a topic of concern to the archival profession or a topic that interests them and present their research at a conference.
  • One could attend conferences and workshops. Somebody may mention that they are working on a project and needs help. People are needed to hand out flyers, answer questions, and provide directions at conferences. You never know who you will meet.
  1. Offer an answer to an email on one of the mailing list. For example, there was an email on the mailing list regarding guidance on conducting a legally mandated inventory of the repository’s art objects. I just completed taking an inventory of ninety-six shelves of oversized material at the Louisiana State Archive. So, I emailed the person back and told him or her what information I recorded. Also, I suggested speaking to the person who needed the inventory in order to make sure the needed information was recorded. I also made the suggestion of using the inventory for disaster planning or a way to highlight preservation needs. The person emailed me back thanking me as well mentioned that he or she like the idea of using the inventory to highlight preservation needs.
  1. Become a mentor to a new professional.
  • I attended the Society of American Archivists’ annual meeting in New Orleans in 2013. They had an event for the new professional/first time attending the conference. I attended this event along with my fellow LSU SLIS students. Being the shy person I am, I stood by my fellow LSU students. It would have been nice at this event if the older members went around introducing themselves or I had a mentor to introduce me to the people at this event or at the conference itself. Older members of the organization should keep in mind, how it felt being the new person in the room. Some people may feel that they should not approach older members or that they should not say much since they are new.
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