Category Archives: Announcements

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! 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.

Archivists of the Houston Area Statement on Texas Legislature HB 1962

The following letter was sent out today to Senators Creighton, Alvarado, Bettencourt, Taylor, Miles, Whitmire, Huffman, and Kolkhorst in response to the HB 1962:

Dear Senator _________,

The Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!) is a professional organization of archivists and those with an interest in archives made up of about 150 members across the Houston area.  The organization exists to increase contact and communication between archivists and those working with records, to provide opportunities for professional development, and to promote archival repositories and activities in the greater Houston, Texas area.

The Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!) object to Section 441.206 of Committee Substitute to HB 1962 (The Texas State Library and Archives Commission “Sunset Bill”) which changes the ownership of records housed within the TSLAC repository, as well as Regional Historical Resource Depositories (RHRD) across the state.

Professional archival practice is that an archive will have ownership over the records they house.  Section 441.206, as currently written, will abandon professional standards and leave ownership with the various legislative bodies that transfer the records, rather than the archives.  This would make TSLAC and other regional archival facilities into record storage locations rather than institutions preserving and providing access to the history of Texas, including the legislative process. 

Allowing the transferring entities to remove records at their discretion is an even greater risk.  Due to the length and complications of the legislative process, records may never be returned to TSLAC et al.  With no provisions made for their safety and security, these records could be mistakenly or intentionally destroyed without proper or legal authorization.  As archival materials are often unique and irreplaceable items, losing them would create significant gaps of the in the historical record, leaving Texans and researchers with an incomplete account of the state’s history.  If TSLAC et al. do not receive legal title to the records transferred, their ability to process, provide public access, and invest resources into the stewardship of the Texas legislature’s historical record will be irreparably compromised.  Their focus, understandably, would be with records that are under their permanent protection. 

Being asked to fulfill public information requests on records that they do not control is an undue burden on TSLAC and regional repository staff members.  Additionally, regional repositories do not receive state funding and would be under strain to send in records when requested.  This could end up costing the state more money as the colleges, universities, and public libraries that serve as regional repositories may decide the cost of participation is higher than the benefits. This would leave TSLAC to house the records and fulfill requests left in the wake of these previously dedicated partners.

The Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!) requests the removal of Sec 441.206 from HB 1962 to ensure the preservation of archival records of historical and cultural significance to the State of Texas.

Sincerely,

Board Members of the Archivists of the Houston Area (AHA!) on behalf of the group membership.

Texas Legislature House Bill 1962


Please see the below SAA announcement in  opposition to Section 441.206, Committee Substitute to House Bill 1962 (The Texas State Library and Archives Commission “Sunset Bill”).

Former AHA! President Emily Vinson notes, “it is very important that records be maintained by the Texas State Library and Archives in perpetuity to ensure access to the state’s legislative history. In addition to the alert below, here is a link to a statement by the Council of State Archivists.

https://www2.archivists.org/sites/all/files/CoSA_Statement_on_Texas_Archival_Legislative_Records.pdf and the Society of Southwest Archivists: https://www.southwestarchivists.org/ssa-objection-to-a-section-of-hb-1962-in-relation-to-texas-state-records/.”

We encourage you to find your Texas Senate and House representative here and contact them today! For information on monitoring the bill’s status see this page.

First AHA! Meeting of 2019!

Our first meeting of the year will be Thursday, April 11 at 6:00 PM at the Woodson Research Center, located in Fondren Library on the campus of Rice University. Dr. Joshua Furman will speak to us about the Houston Jewish History Archive.

Founded in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Houston Jewish History Archive is dedicated to the study and preservation of Jewish life in South Texas. By collecting artifacts from all facets of Jewish life, the HJHA sheds light on how Jews in and around Houston have balanced maintaining their traditions and heritage with adapting to life in Texas and the United States.

Prior to Dr. Furman’s discussion, we will have a short business meeting including an update on the upcoming Houston Archives Bazaar. If you are interested in volunteering, please email Lilly Carrel at lcarrel@menil.org.

Logistics:

The closest parking to Fondren Library is the Rice Central Garage.  Please see the Rice University interactive campus map for more information: https://parking.rice.edu/Content.aspx?id=32

Questions please contact: Emily Scott at Emily.Scott@houstontx.gov

We hope you will join us for our 2019 inaugural meeting!

New SAA Rights Review Process


The latest issue of American Archivist explores a new rights review process for sound recordings that combines fair use evaluation with a risk management approach; a case study engaging undergraduate and graduate students with congressional papers; and a cultural competency framework for equity, diversity, and inclusion in the archival profession. In addition, articles highlight the legacy of SAA’s former Committee on the Status of Women (1972–1998), inquiry-based archival instruction, and student employees in archives and special collections. Start reading the digital edition-and keep an eye on your mailbox for the print edition!

Archives Month 2018

For Archives Month 2018, AHA! members came together for two events:

On October 15th members gathered at the Julia Ideson Building to view the Society of American Archivists (SAA) webinar, Introduction to Processing Digital Records and Manuscripts. This class is one of the core classes for both the DAS and Arrangement and Description (A&D) Certificate programs.

On October 26th , archivists got a behind the scenes tour of the Menil Library and Archives.

Thanks to all who came out, and to our host institutions!