ALA First Timer from the Archives Sector

By Susan Irwin, Director of the Library & Archives Division, Arizona Historical Society

As part of the Conference Exchange cohort I have now attended my first AAM (American Alliance of Museums) and ALA (American Library Association) conferences.  Going to these meetings reinforces my belief in the need to bring people together face-to-face. A strength of annual meetings is how they bring together individuals from each subset of the profession, allowing them to learn from each other. For instance, art, science and history museums, along with zoos, are represented at AAM.  At ALA public, academic, school and special libraries are represented.

Banner for Libraries Transform campaign

Banner for Libraries Transform

At ALA I was impressed with the level of advocacy for the profession. ALA’s Libraries Transform initiative re-frames and reinforces the role of libraries in their local communities and in the broader society.  The museum and archives field do not have the same unified voice nationally.

Public libraries, by definition, serve a diverse audience. ALA conducts advocacy related to social issues from Banned Books (providing an opportunity to be videotaped reading from a banned book) to the current transgender issue ( by providing non-gender specific restrooms).

One of my ‘aha’ moments came in the ALA store. As an archivist I automatically turn to the SAA bookstore and journal (The American Archivist) for professional literature.  In the ALA store I ran across several publications on archival and local history collections, digital curation, and exhibits. [Examples: Archives Alive: Expanding Engagement with Public Library Archives and Special Collections; Local History Reference Collections for Public Libraries; Copyright for Archivists and Records Managers; Displays and Exhibits in College Libraries; Organizing Exhibits: A Handbook for Libraries, Archives and Museums]   This reinforced for me the degree to which the three sectors overlap.  Each sector encompasses the other two.  Libraries, archives and museums curate exhibits.  Museums and Archives have library collections.  Archives have object collections. It brought to mind several questions about the overlap in publications across the LAM professions.  A first step to cross-sector CE/PD might be to provide access to professional literature across the three sectors. Is there a way for AAM/ALA/SAA to cross promote in a joint online publications catalog?  How can use of cross sector literature be encouraged in CE/PD offerings?