Highlights from SAA

I returned from the Society of American Archivists annual meeting on Saturday – the meeting had not yet concluded, but I had a date with destiny (my high school reunion, and don’t worry, there won’t be any further details). I attended some excellent sessions and heard reports on some interesting projects. I’d like to call out some of these for you.

The best was a session called “More Product, Less Process: New Processing Guidelines to Reduce Backlogs,” chaired by Dennis Meissner (Minnesota Historical Society). The panelists included Donna E McCrea,University of Montana-Missoula (“Getting More for Less: Testing a New Processing Model at the University of Montana”); Mike Strom,Texas Christian University (“Texas-size Progress: Applying New Processing Guidelines to the Jim Wright Papers”); and Christine Weideman,Yale University Libraries (“Accessioning as Processing”). All participants described nothing short of transformative progress in terms of dealing with backlogs by incorporating principles outlined in a paper by Mark Greene and Dennis Meissner titled “More Product, Less Process: Pragmatically Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal with Late 20th Century Collections.” (I believe the paper will be published in a forthcoming issue of American Archivist.) All of the presentations were excellent in terms of substance and style, but my favorite was Christine Weideman’s, who described the up-front engagement of the collection donor, in terms of setting expectations and helping to define how the donor could assist with the process. Audience reaction to this panel seemed overwhelmingly positive, and I was very encouraged by the level of enthusiasm it generated. If you agree, or if you had a different reaction, I’d love to hear from you.

I also heard an update on the Archivists’ Toolkit project, an effort to create open source tools for the archival community. Although I’m on the advisory board for this group, it was great to hear a public report on the progress that’s been made. They expect to have the Toolkit out for experimentation and comment between August and November, 2006. The website has more information, and you can download the lengthy specification, and even offer comments.

Clay Redding from Princeton University gave a presentation on JPEG2000 at the EAD Roundtable. Princeton is making JPEG2000 files available with a piece of software from Aware, which allows for on-the-fly delivery of regular JPEGs through a web browser. Although they do not plan to store metadata in JPEG2000, Princeton sees a lot of promise in the format.

I have additional reports on New Orleans restaurants, coffee, bars, and music, but that’s for another blog space.