SCA is pleased to continue our monthly virtual meeting series for members (and anyone interested in joining us!) to discuss various topics of interest in an informal, online environment. On Friday August 14th from 12-1:30pm, we will meet to discuss the Archives for Black Lives in Philadelphia Anti-Racist Description Resources, and make action items from these resources for our own work. We will reconvene in a few months to report our progress on these action items. We will also spend the last half-hour discussing labor issues of interest to the group, so that we can plan for further monthly discussions around labor.
Please RSVP for the August meeting at this link:
If you would like to be part of the steering committee for this monthly meeting project, or if you have any questions, please let us know.
My deepest hope is that this letter finds you all healthy and safe. Our worlds, both personal and professional, have been and continue to be radically altered in ways we could never have imagined; many of us are still adjusting to new realities, losses and difficult transitions. But in the midst of the health crisis of COVID-19, I am inspired to see that we continue, as archivists, to bear witness to and record the inequities and trauma in our communities by soliciting stories from workers, students, and the public at large, thereby amplifying their present experiences. Every week, the number of these projects expands; within the CSU system alone, eight different projects have been launched as of May 31, and many other institutions have launched projects as well. Your fast work and thoughtful approaches will document this moment as few other global events in history have been documented in real time.
A more specific professional loss felt by us all was the cancellation of the Western Archivists Meeting. Sadly, as news of the devastation caused by COVID-19 began to spread and San Francisco took the prescient step of ordering a shelter-in-place before much of the nation, the leadership of the four regional organizations and the Local Arrangements Committee recognized that the meeting would not be able to go forward as planned. I want to acknowledge the incredibly hard work that the Program Committee, the Local Arrangements Committee, and the leadership of the western regional organizations put into both the planning for, and the dissolution of, the Western Archivists Meeting. The thoughtfulness of the Program Committee, the creative and engaging proposals submitted by the members of all of the organizations involved, and the heavy lifting of planning for such an event by our Local Arrangements Committee showed what a fully engaged and committed membership looks like.The great accomplishments we achieved are no less valuable because of the meeting’s cancellation.
We are now, of course, in a new era, struggling to maintain our professional work while wrestling with the inequities in our institutions and in our personal lives that have been further exposed by the pandemic. Having worked for many years in archives, I have seen firsthand the struggles to keep our institutions functioning during times of scarcity, and the devastating impact that downturns can have when that struggle results in layoffs, furloughs and cuts to already-low salaries. Having been in positions of precarity throughout most of my career, including in my present position, I’m acutely aware of the anxiety and fear that comes from holding a job that is tied to funding that could disappear in the coming months. I am grateful that in this moment, we are reaching out to one another, supporting one another, and fighting for our colleagues in the ways that we are able. I’d like to highlight in particular the list shared recently by the Los Angeles Archivists Collective (LAAC) COVID-19 Community Resources for Archivists. Please refer to it, add to it, and share it broadly, as it is a perfect example of how our community harnesses collective energy to share information and show empathy towards one another. I’m proud too of the work my fellow archivists are doing to highlight those inequities that persist within our cultural heritage institutions, government agencies, and universities. We must continue to press on these issues, even as raising our voices may not feel safe.
To that end, it will be timely to hear from our own Task Force on Labor Issues, led in the coming year by Courtney Dean and George Thompson, and to increase advocacy on behalf of our members, in solidarity with our allies in national and regional organizations. To support your continued professional development needs, SCA’s Education Committee—chaired by Adrienne Storey (Northern California), Mallory Furnier (Southern California) and Christine Kim (Online)—is working hard to transition our workshops to a virtual environment. You can look forward as well to our earlier webinars being published online in the coming months.
Before signing off, I want to extend my deepest thanks to outgoing Past President Teresa Mora, whose contributions to SCA cannot be overstated; to Liz Phillips, our outgoing Treasurer, whose thoughtful guidance and fiscal responsibility ensures that SCA’s financial standing remains solid, despite the recent downturn; and for the commitment and dedication of Dee Dee Kramer as our outgoing Member At Large. I also would like to thank our outgoing committee members, as it is their heavy lifting that keeps SCA moving forward, as we enter our 50th year: Jennifer Martinez Wormser (Awards), Kate Dundon (Development), and Genevieve Preston (Government Affairs).
Finally, recognizing that many of you are struggling due to job loss and family needs, the Executive Board voted to contribute funds to the SAA Foundation’s Archival Workers Emergency Fund. If you can afford to, please contribute; if you are in need, please apply.
Wishing you all continued good health, safety, and security,
For other recent SCA news, see the Summer 2020 SCA Newsletter.
It is with great sadness that we announce that the SCA Board has decided to move the 2021 Annual General Meeting to an online-only environment. A number of factors have led us to this decision, most importantly the health and well-being of our members. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the recent surge in cases across our state, and the expected wave of even more cases in the fall/winter we feel an in-person meeting would put our membership at undue risk. Recent news of California State University’s (CSU) extension on staff travel restrictions through June 30, 2021, which is likely to be adopted by the State and UC system as well, also factored into our decision as the majority of our members are employed by those systems and would be unable to attend an in-person meeting. By making this decision now, we can allow our Program and Local Arrangements Committees ample time to plan for the transition to a virtual meeting. We hope that we will once again be able to meet with each other in person again in 2022, in Palm Springs.
For other recent SCA news, see the Summer 2020 SCA Newsletter.
SCA recently made two donations to organizations serving archival professionals. The first, We Here, is a supportive community for BIPOC library and archive workers. Learn more about We Here and ways to support their work at https://www.wehere.space/. The second was SAA's Archival Workers Emergency Fund. Learn more about the fund and ways to support your colleagues at https://www2.archivists.org/groups/saa-foundation-board-of-directors/archival-workers-emergency-fund.
The Society of California Archivists affirms Black Lives Matter and stands in solidarity with the protesters calling for the end of police brutality and violence against the Black community.
We stand in opposition to the historic and present state of violence against Black lives. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are a direct result of the structural racism that infiltrates every corner of our society, including the archival profession.
The Society of California Archivists acknowledges that our profession has supported and continues to support racist systems and practices that uphold systemic inequality and perpetuate white supremacy. The legacy and role of white supremacy in archives has led to a predominately white and male historical record, while Black communities and Black voices are silenced, distorted, or entirely excluded from the historical record. Anti-Blackness has infiltrated our collections, policies, and workforce. It is our responsibility as archivists to dismantle oppressive archival practices and work toward building a more accurate and representative historical record. This moment reminds us as archivists that our work is not only to preserve but to amplify those voices that have been, and continue to be, unheard and silenced. It is this work that we must prioritize at the present moment. Otherwise, we can be sure that the history that is told will be by those voices most carefully crafted to establish and maintain systems of dominance and control.
The SCA Board is stepping forward to acknowledge and work toward amending the inequities caused by systemic racism. We call on ourselves and our white and non-Black membership to think about the antiracist actions we can take both professionally and personally to support the Black Lives Matter movement and to eradicate anti-Blackness in all forms. Personally you can take action by: donating to bail funds; signing petitions advocating for police accountability; locally supporting policies that defund police/law enforcement; donating to organizations that advocate for an end to structural racism; and calling your local/state representatives. Professionally we can: consider the policing nature of the archives and review access/use policies; rewrite collection development policies; commit to ethical collecting practices and prioritize care for protesters if collecting on the protests; revise our descriptions to eliminate racist/biased language, distortion, and the erasure of Black lives; and support community archives by providing resources.
The Board recognizes that in order to make headway in dismantling structural inequity, SCA as an organization needs to change. The SCA Board is committed to taking specific actions to show our support and to dismantle white supremacy, and we will remain accountable to our membership through further communications.
-In Solidarity, The SCA Board
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