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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Archivists' archives reprieved (for now)

After many archivists protested, the Society of American Archivists Council has reversed its decision to purge the archives of the SAA listserv. I counted over 200 messages of protest in four days. Many of us hope the archives are preserved and made permanently accessible — I hope the Internet Archive is one of several repositories. --RP

Here's today's announcement:

Subject: [archives] Appraisal of A&A List (1993-2006)
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 15:35:09 -0500
From: "Nancy Beaumont"
To: "The Archives & Archivists (A&A) List"
Reply-To: "The Archives & Archivists (A&A) List"
Reply-To: Nancy Beaumont

Posted on behalf of SAA President Elizabeth Adkins:

To: A&A List

From: Elizabeth Adkins, SAA President

Subject: Appraisal of A&A List (1993-2006)

The SAA Council convened via conference call last night to review the feedback on our previously announced decision to dispose of the A&A List archives (1993-2006). We are impressed by, and grateful for, the range and depth of responses to our announcement – particularly as they relate to concern on behalf of the profession. After taking everyone's thoughtful comments into account, we've decided to work with Miami University of Ohio to explore the option of transferring the list archives to another repository.

We remain concerned that transferring the list archives raises administrative and legal considerations that must be addressed, but we are willing to work to find ways to address those issues, if at all possible. We have contacted MUO, which has agreed to extend until further notice the date by which the list archives must be taken down to give us more time to work out the details. Should it become necessary, we will arrange for a download of the archives list files that could be used in a transfer to another repository.

Clearly this experience demonstrates that appraisal is something about which good archivists can disagree, and we respect the passionate disagreement of the list community with our original decision. I want to thank all who have expressed their concern, publicly or privately, and for the constructive suggestions that many of you have made to address SAA's concerns.

We will be communicating with the list as we progress through next steps.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The interesting thing in all of this is that the listserv was never "originally" an official "organ" of the SAA ... that came much later ... as result, the proposed action would have been, if not outrightly illegal, of such a dubious nature as to have put the SAA in a very difficult position. As a very early subscriber to the list, I was never asked if it was acceptable to have MY postings become part of an "official" record of the SAA .

While I appreciate the potential for problematic postings have for repercussions years after the fact (the various screeds surrounding DOn Saklad come to mind), such is life in the 21st century and the use of the Internet ... is there REALLY such a thing as privacy, or is it just a lovely illusion we all cling to, almost desperately?

9:21 AM  

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