AHA! Recommends Closure of Houston Libraries and Archives

Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!) recommends that libraries and archival institutions in the Houston area cease public operations in adherence with national and local guidelines regarding the spread of COVID-19 and in solidarity with national, regional, and local professional organizations and ensure fair compensation for staff during the ongoing situation.

We commend the libraries and archival institutions that have closed in order to protect our communities from the spread of COVID-19, follow social distancing guidelines intended to “flatten the curve,” and, we hope, save lives.

Nationally, the United States Government and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend social distancing measures and working from home whenever possible. Locally, the City of Houston also recommends working from home whenever possible, avoiding gatherings of over 10 people, and avoiding discretionary travel. The Society of American Archivists also urges leaders and administrators to act swiftly to close archival institutions and support employees in work from home plans stating, “the valued labor of archivists is not more important than the health of the people doing that work.”

AHA! recommends the SAA Accessibility & Disability section’s “Archivists at Home” document to assist in devising work from home plans and tasks for archivists and staff. If you are concerned about the effect of COVID-19 on your workplace status, income, or access to sick time and family leave time, please consider filling out the Contingent Archival Workers and COVID-19  anonymous survey. SAA has also created a resource page to help the archives community navigate this global health crisis.

Stay safe and healthy,

AHA! Board

AHA! visits the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston!

Stacks area at MFAH Archives. Photo by Joe Lueck.

By Joe Lueck, AHA! Secretary

On March 12th, 2020, the members of AHA! held their first general meeting of the year at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. MFAH archivists Marie Wise and Stratton Meyer graciously hosted the event, and offered a tour of the MFAH archives’ new space in the institution’s administration building at 5100 Montrose Boulevard.

Reading Room at MFAH Archives. Photo by Lilly Carrel.

Under the care of Wise and Meyer, the MFAH archives have reopened for research following a three year closure. The collections include institutional records and manuscript collections from affiliated and local artists, documenting over one hundred years of institutional and local history. Traffic in the reading room has been consistent since reopening, as researchers from inside and outside the MFAH dig into the archives’ rich historical and cultural resources.

Stacks area at MFAH Archives. Photo by Lilly Carrel.

Wise and Meyer worked creatively to configure shelving in the new space, making the most of the former studio spaces now available for archival storage. Using a color coordination system, the archivists deftly managed the move of collection material from two offsite storage locations outside the 610 loop to the museum’s main campus.

Thanks again to the MFAH, Marie, and Stratton for hosting! Visit the MFAH Archives website for more information about hours, available resources, and collections.

AHA! General Meeting – Thursday, March 12, 2020 @ MFAH!

The first general meeting of 2020 will be hosted by our colleagues Marie Wise and Stratton Meyer at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Administration Building (5100 Montrose Boulevard) on Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 6:30 pm! After the AHA! business meeting, Marie and Stratton will lead us on a tour of their recently renovated archives space and share with us their experience of moving the archives to their new location.

Parking & Logistics: MFAH Archives are located in the museum’s Administration Building at 5100 Montrose Boulevard. An uncovered carpark is located behind the building. The Archives are on the 2nd floor and signs will be posted to assist AHA folks getting to the right place! Additional details on parking forthcoming.

Job Opportunity: Digital Archivist at Rice University

https://library.rice.edu/digital-archivist

Fondren Library seeks a service-oriented, well-organized, technically savvy, and self-motivated digital archivist. This position will work to update, expand, and maintain the digital preservation program in the library’s special collections department, the Woodson Research Center. This position will report to the head of special collections and collaborate closely with professional archivist staff.

Archival Advocacy Opportunity- Contact the House in Support of Increased Funding for NARA and NHPRC

RAAC is seeking individuals to contact their Member of Congress in the House of Representatives in support of increased funding for NARA and NHPRC by signing on to a Dear Colleague letter to the House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees NARA.  

As seen below, the National Coalition for History has a thorough explanation about the “ask” and the process.   

Please note that the deadline to sign on to the letter is March 13.

Dear NCH member representative,

The National Coalition for History (NCH) has worked with Congressmen John Larson (D-CT)Don Young (R-AK), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) to seek support for additional funding in the upcoming fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

They recently circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter to their fellow representatives urging them to show their support. The letter will be sent to the chair and ranking member of the House Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee which has jurisdiction over NARA and the NHPRC’s budgets. 

We need the members of your organization to contact their representatives and ask them to sign on to the letter in support of additional funding for NARA and the NHPRC. We have prepared a one-page briefing paper that summarizes the funding challenges facing these two agencies that are so vital to historians, archivists and other stakeholders. Click here to access an on-line version. 

More detailed instructions on contacting your Member of Congress and background information are available from the NCH website by clicking here.Our colleagues at the National Humanities Alliance have prepared an email that you can send directly to your representative. To send a letter, click here.

Please contact me if you have any questions. The deadline for representatives to sign on is March 13 so please don’t delay in sharing this information with your members!

Thanks in advance for your assistance in getting the word out. Please note that I am back in AHA’s renovated headquarters so you can once again contact me on my office phone.

Finally, be aware that if you reply to this email, everyone on the mailing list will see it. Please contact me separately via email if it is something you don’t want to share with everyone else.

Lee White
Executive Director

National Coalition for History
400 A St. SE
Washington DC 20003
(202)544-2422 x-116

October is American Archives Month!

Sep 30, 2019 12:32 PM
SAA Headquarters
Need ideas for making your archives program and your profession more visible during American Archives Month? We’ve got four easy ways to get involved this October: 

Participate in #AskAnArchivist Day on Wednesday, October 2, when archivists around the country will answer questions about archives. Find ideas for promoting the day among your users and developing a plan with your colleagues to respond to tweets. Follow other #AskAnArchivist Day participants, and email Abigail Christian with your institution’s Twitter handle to join the list.

Advocate for Archives! Find out when your Representative and Senators will be at “home” during American Archives Month. It’s the perfect time to begin building a relationship! For tips on making a district visit, see our Advocacy Guide.

Plan an event or issue a press release to attract media coverage. SAA has evergreen resources to assist you in enhancing public awareness of your repository-and your profession. Download the new American Archives Month graphic for use in promoting your events. (Shout out to Eve Neiger, archivist at Yale University, who designed the new graphics!) 

Take part in the Council of State Archivists’ Electronic Records Day on Wednesday, October 10, to highlight the importance of electronic records and digital preservation issues in government and in our lives.

New Job Posting! Head of Special Collections at the Woodson Research Center at Rice University

Head of Special Collections

The Fondren Library at Rice University seeks a creative, visionary, and collaborative leader for the position of Head of Special Collections. The Head of Special Collections is responsible for leadership and the overall management and administration of the Woodson Research Center, which includes the Rice University archives, manuscript collections, and rare books. The Head of Special Collections works collaboratively with other library units and administration on digital initiatives, preservation, grants, development efforts, and public engagement, and actively participates on the Fondren Library management team.  The position reports to the Vice Provost and University Librarian.  The department includes four professional archivists plus temporary staff, volunteers, and student workers.

Responsibilities

Provides leadership in a team environment to achieve the goals and vision of the Woodson Research Center.  Develops policy and is responsible for long term planning and strategic development of special collections through strengthening of existing collections and growth in new service areas in support of the fundamental goals of the Fondren Library and Rice University.  Works collaboratively within the library, across campus and within the academic community to acquire official records and other materials of historical significance and to promote relevance and significance of special collections.  Works collaboratively with other library units and administration on digital initiatives, preservation, grants, development efforts, and public engagement.  Responsible for projects that combine traditional manuscript, archival and book processing activities with digital initiatives.

Requirements include: 

ALA-accredited Master’s degree in Library Science OR a graduate degree appropriate to working in archives or special collections. 

Society of American Archivists certificate program OR Academy of Certified Archivists certification.

Five years of professional experience leading special collections/archival services/operations and demonstrated evidence of progressively increasing scope of supervisory and management responsibility in an academic or research library or similar institution; Experience supervising a team of professionals; Demonstrated experience working with analog and born-digital archival materials; Experience that demonstrates a strong commitment to user-focused design of collections and services; Demonstrated experience with preservation or conservation standards and their challenges for a variety of content types.

Preferred qualifications: 

Knowledge of current and emerging trends, issues, workflows, and standards and best practices in the worlds of archives and special collections, including digital content acquisition and curation as well as digitization of analog formats.

Demonstrated expertise using archival technology tools (e.g., content management tools, such as ArchivesSpace; web publishing platforms, such as Omeka; and institutional repositories, such as DSpace.

Familiarity with legal, privacy, and ethical issues associated with archiving digital and print content.
Experience in donor relations and growing philanthropic support.

Familiarity with metadata standards that are MARC and non-MARC compatible.

Familiarity with Geospatial mapping software, such as ArcGIS.
Excellent interpersonal skills; Demonstrated commitment to professional development.
Strong service orientation and interest in anticipating and supporting information users’ values and needs.

Salary & benefits:  $90,000 minimum, with hiring salary commensurate with experience and qualifications; no state or local income tax; 21 benefit days; 8 study days; a range of retirement options including TIAA/CREF; health and life insurance; and tuition waiver.

Environment:  Rice University provides a stimulating work environment, with opportunities to participate in the delivery of innovative library services supported by leading edge technologies.  Fondren Library (http://library.rice.edu/) is a research library with over 2.9 million volumes and over 170,000 serial subscriptions.  The Library has a state-of-the-art offsite shelving facility and completed a major building renovation project in 2006.  An active program of digital resource development and delivery is underway.   

Houston is a vibrant, multicultural city, with world-class visual and performing arts ranging from the traditional to the avant-garde. The fourth largest city in the country, Houston enjoys a moderate cost of living and easy proximity to the Gulf Coast. 

For more information, see: 

http://www.explore.rice.edu/explore/General_Information.asp

http://www.visithoustontexas.com/media/neighborhoods

Applications received by September 30, 2019 will receive first consideration.  Please apply with cover letter, resume, and the names, titles, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses of three references at: https://jobs.rice.edu/postings/20870.  Inquiries:  Melinda Reagor Flannery, Assistant University Librarian/Search Coordinator at (713) 348-3773 or e-mail reagor@rice.edu.  Rice University is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer.