In late July I had the pleasure of participating in the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and serving as a co-panelist at a rights-oriented session: https://archives2017.sched.com/event/ABHL/504-the-rights-stuff-encouraging-appropriate-reuse-with-standardized-rights-statements. The session was moderated by Kelcy Shepherd (DPLA Network Manager, Digital Public Library of America). and my co-panelists were Laura Capell (Head of Digital Production & Electronic Records Archivist, University of Miami), MJ Han (Metadata Librarian, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), and Sheila McAlister (Director, Digital Library of Georgia).
The session was quite well attended, with approximately 150 in attendance, and heavily promoted after the sessions were made available online (I’ve seen it float by on multiple mailing lists!). Although the introductory slides are available I strongly recommend this excellent summary of the panel from Michael Barera (Archivist, Texas A&M University-Commerce). Given our audience – archivists who likely hadn’t implemented standardized rights statements to any great degree – we provided an introduction to RightsStatements.org and the standardized statements, and moved to a panel discussion of the benefits of providing standardized rights information, the panel’s implementation hurdles, the complexities that we’ve encountered in rights statements assignments, and answered questions from the community.
As for the meeting itself – it was very large with multiple concurrent sessions, and there were a few days of Society business meetings and workshops before the primary conference sessions, and an unconference after the meeting. The meeting was hosted at the Portland Conference Center and to everyone’s delight, one of the conference hotels hosted a cat show the day after the conference.
Need some conference time cat therapy? Check out the window of the Pixie Project on MLK. #saa17 pic.twitter.com/nJRQCpsIg4
— Caryn Radick (@carynradick) July 27, 2017
As a copyright attorney working as a librarian, archivists’ work can be somewhat opaque and having the opportunity for informal networking and discussion of archival practices in the rights context in other institutions besides my own was invaluable.
I attended sessions that were pretty unique to SAA. My favorite was Everyone’s Vested Interests: Archivists and Affinity Groups, which turns out to be a really oblique way of saying super unique corporate archives. We were regaled with tales from Coca-Cola, Levi, IBM (including the making of Hidden Figures), Harley-Davidson, and Disney. The session was a must-attend for anyone working in archives that preserve fandom-focused materials (and as a Penn State Employee was actually useful in helping to understand how the Archivists & Special Collections team uses what we have to cultivate our fan base and obtain important scholarly collections). Plus, the exhibits hall was packed full of vendors showing off their new techy wares – I was particularly taken by automatic microfiche scanners!
Finally, one of my favorite things were the epic ribbons that SAA provides conference goers! A more accurate badge has never been assembled.