This blog was written by Debbie Davendonis-Todd, director of the Poage Library and the Bob Bullock Archivist.
The Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC) was founded in 2003 as an independent alliance of organizations and institutions that promote the study of the U.S. Congress. The W. R. Poage Legislative Library is a founding member of ACSC. ACSC draws on the talents and resources of its members to promote a wide range of programs and research opportunities related to Congress. Like many of the member institutions, the Poage Library houses archival collections of former members of Congress and other related research collections.
Every spring, ACSC members gather in various locations for an annual meeting. This year, the ACSC returned to Washington, DC, and the magnificent Library of Congress (LOC). As our nation’s oldest federal cultural institution, the LOC is home to numerous congressional collections, is the primary research arm of the U.S. Congress, and the sponsor and host of many innovative programs and outreach initiatives, making the it an ideal location to meet.
I had the honor and pleasure of serving as the Program Chair for the annual meeting, so my trip to DC was the culmination of a year’s work. With the support of terrific colleagues from the Senate Historical Office and the National Archives Center for Legislative Archives, we developed a program, “Congressional Centers: Connecting and Communicating.” We focused on incorporating Library of Congress resources into our sessions and worked on strategies for reaching new audiences and strengthening existing connections.
Highlights from this year’s meeting included a session featuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his archivist, Deborah Skaggs of the McConnell Chao Archives at the University of Louisville and former Representative Barney Frank. Senator McConnell’s presence at the meeting marked the first time a sitting senator (and one with a leadership position, no less) met with our group. We also tried a couple new session formats to engage our members and shake up some of our old meeting standbys. The first was an edit to our typical keynote speaker address. This year we designed a fireside-style chat session. We were honored to have the Library of Congress’ Dr. Colleen Shogan, Deputy Director of National and International Outreach for a lively conversation. Dr. Shogan focused on the LOC’s core strategies for best practices related to the development, execution, and evaluation of outreach initiatives. Another fun element we added to the program was a speed-geeking session. Speed Geeking is a participation process used to quickly view a number of presentations within a fixed period of time. This session helped transform our member update session into a more engaged and participatory event. The meeting was a success and DC is always fun to visit, but it sure is nice to be back home at Poage!
Next year, ACSC heads to the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.