On September 27th, 2021 DVAG hosted an informal SAA conference wrap conversation for members. The event kicked off with Eileen Fay, recipient of this year’s SAA Annual Meeting Travel Grant, discussing “Outreach and Online Access Innovations from Smaller Institutions” session she attended. Fay discussed how small institutions with little resources over the last year were able to rethink outreach and access like recording walking and driving tours and converting legacy finding aid documents to libguides. Fay reiterated from her blog post, Heidi Morse’s six best practices to help any organization create a successful outreach project: 1) identify need; 2) determine type of access for your audience ; 3) build relationships; 4) ask for feedback; 5) provide accessible usability; and 6) promotion. The session review opened up discussion how local institutions have created walking tours and scavenger hunts. And one of the biggest take away is the continued struggle to get active engagement.
Robert McInnes kindly reviewed the session on NAFAN (National Finding Aid Network), which is CDL (California Digital Library) and OCLC is collaborating on developing a national archival finding aid database. The potential national network of finding aids would expand access to collections and assist reference archivists and librarians in directing to centralized location of research. McInnes also reviewed the “From the Page” session, which is the crowdsourcing transcription platform. McInnes described the ease of use in the interface where you can transcribe and see the document on the same page.
A question posed to the group was how conferences should be done moving forward. The overwhelming consensus was having virtual options provides more accessibility. Maybe a hybrid model is key moving forward? Or rethinking what a conference should provide it’s members?
A reoccurring theme of this year’s SAA conference was community archives and relationship building, so the group talked a little about their own personal examples; but what really sprung from the conversation was the continued importance to digitizing collections. With that a conversation if there should be more professional development in the field around digitizing best practices.