Research Libraries Meeting

To finish day 1 of SAA, I went to my first Research Libraries meeting. Boy am I glad I did! It was great to hear so many positive tales of collaboration across library departments in the face of budget cuts due to the Great Recession. As Tom Hyry characterized the current landscape, as we’ve emerged from the worst of the recession, our mandate as special collections repositories has expanded. We’re expected to be more responsive to the technoligical needs of users and to provide technological expertise, increase and expand our outreach and instruction work, as well as develop records management and e-records programs. 

Teresa Mora, who recently began as university archivist as UC Santa Cruz, but was formerly as UC Berkeley shared how a lack of attrition planning can have a real negative effect on the moral of staff and overall productivity. Teresa believes that period of decreased staffing levels offer the opportunity to return to foundational aspects of archival work and planning. Conducting a collection survey, using grant funds, enables staff to develop processing and digitization prioties that might have been unknown before. There may be additional funding that can be sought for these specific projects, once the foundational work is done. 

Jennifer King, the manuscripts librarian from George Washington University, offered her thoughts for “calling all hands on deck” as she did when she initaited a volunteer processing project and recruited 10 library staff members to create folder lists for a heavily used collection.

Dawn Schmitz of UNC- Charlotte shared her experience and emphasized the importance of “inserting yourself into the process” and aligning the goals of your staff and department to the broader structures and priorities of your parent institution. 

Katie McCormick of Florida State University also shared a silo busting experience. She invited course reserves and circulation staff, among others, to describe local history photos in the digital respository. These area natives have a lot to offer archivists, and it can turn your colleagues into department advocates. 

What have you done at your institution to break down silos in the face of increasingly competitive funding streams and economic uncertainty? 

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