This blog post was written by Amanda Fisher, Collections Services Archivist.
Recently, archivist Amanda Fisher attended the Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) 2019 annual meeting in Tucson, centered around the theme of “Crossing Borders, Blazing Trails.” The conference opened with a plenary address by Michelle Light, former vice president of the Society of American Archivists. She recently stepped down in order to assume a new role at the Library of Congress. Light’s address focused on the conference theme and discussed the need for diversity in archival collections. She talked about community development, cultural competency, and the importance of listening and learning about cultural differences. Archivists have a lot to learn, room to grow, and need to be willing to stretch and bend archival practices to allow for inclusion. Light emphasized that it takes human connections to make positive changes.
Amanda attended informative sessions focusing on the future of archival education, assessment of archival processes, social media, community-driven archives, and methods for helping donors choose a repository to donate materials.
In addition to these sessions, she toured the University of Arizona Special Collections which focus on the history of science, the Borderlands, Arizona, the Southwest, rare books, and performing arts. Touring other archives is a good practice that provides ideas and inspiration for archivists to take back home to their own repositories.
The last evening of the SSA annual meeting was an all-attendee reception, which usually features good food and conversation in a local museum or archive. This year, SSA-ers met at the Arizona State Museum, which displays artifacts of ancient indigenous cultures of the Southwest. Exhibits open for the event included Hopi agriculture, Hopi Katsina dolls, and Native basketry and pottery.
The annual meeting concluded with a fun SLOTTO raffle and silent auction to support archival student scholarships. Amanda bid and won this sweet Arizona-themed basket in the silent auction.
Attending the Society of Southwest Archivists meeting is always a real treat and a great opportunity to connect with archivists from other institutions, to share and learn new ideas, and to be challenged.