Friday, December 2, 2016

MARAC Annapolis Meeting: Reflection

I recently attended the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference in Annapolis, MD.  While there I attended a session titled “How Can I help You: The Changing Nature of Reference in the 21st Century”.  A panel of seven—including reference archivists, school teachers, and genealogy researchers—presented.  They provided a variety of viewpoints on reference assistance in archives.  Through their presentations they identified common themes experienced across perspectives.  
The importance of knowledgeable reference personnel was one of the most common themes. Several presenters opined that having experts who know the collections well is very helpful to researchers for both discovering materials, narrowing topics, and focusing research.  It was mentioned, more than once, that researchers often don’t know that materials exist or which collections to search. However, consulting reference archivists knowledgeable about repository collections was a great way to discover materials and narrow down useful sources for research projects.  This being the case, the panel agreed that the archive reference interview was still a very valuable tool for helping researchers.
Other common themes discussed include the idea of customer expectations, changes in customer demographics, and challenges researchers face using digitized collections.  Reference archivists cited technological advancements have changed customer behaviors. Customers expect quicker responses and online access.  They said customers often don’t plan to visit the archival institution at all, but want to remotely access any materials of interest.  Several panelists also pointed out that younger people, even children, are becoming interested in primary resources--resulting in a younger clientele.  With more and more archival materials being offered online, both reference archivists and archives users agreed having reference help available was still a need.  It was said more access means more difficulty finding what’s wanted. It also was pointed out that researchers might need help finding context and the larger collection associated with a picture or document that they find through a Google search.

All in all, the discussion and the Q&A session afterwards were very informative and helping all of us improve the user experience at our archives.  The tone was educational, but lighthearted.  The variety of viewpoints was well thought out and useful for me (an archivist) to hear.  I was impressed with the quality of information that I was able to get out of the session and thought it was well worth the time.

Abigail Sattler
Archivist – Liberty University

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Call for Participants: Business or Religious Archives

Whether you neglected the CEO's new initiative, grossly overspent your budget, or overestimated your capabilities, the Newark Business Archives session "Mistakes...I've made a few" provides a forum for presenters and attendees to share cringe-worthy experiences.  Adapted from a recent session at AAM, the session begins with panelists sharing one or more of the biggest mistakes they have made in their professional career and the lessons learned.  In contrast to the session "The Best Idea I Ever Had," we invite you to share your mistakes...after all...we've all made a few.
MARAC is engaging in crowdsourcing to populate the panel for this session.  The panel will consist of 3 presenters who will share their most cringe-worthy experience that can be presented in 10 minutes.  To participate, please email a description of your experience as well as a brief biography to Tammy Hamilton at by Friday, December 2nd.  All submissions will be reviewed and potential participants contacted by Friday, December 16th.
Event details are listed below.  For further information about this session please contact Tammy Hamilton at the email listed above or 717-508-1988.
Event details:
What: Business Archives Forum:  A daylong gathering of business archivists from the MARAC region to discuss and share information aligned with the conference theme of Adaptable Archives: Redefine, Repurpose, and Renew.
Where: Best Western Robert Treat Hotel, Newark, NJ
When: Thursday, April 20, 2017

Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

At the conclusion of one of the most divisive elections in recent U.S. history, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) proudly reaffirms its longstanding commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. MARAC is committed to the importance of diversity and inclusion in our organization, our profession, and the communities we serve. Our organization serves individuals who protect intellectual freedom, privacy, confidentiality, and equitable access to information  We strongly reject any acts of hate, discrimination, bias, or intimidation against anyone on the basis of ability, race, ethnicity, national origin, gender identification, sexual orientation, or religion.  Accordingly, we have charged a Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, who will soon make recommendations in support of providing an inclusive and safe organization for all of our members. You can learn more about their work at:

Brian Keough

MARAC Distinguished Service Award

Do you know a MARAC member who has made a difference in the lives and successes of others? If so, please consider nominating him/her for MARAC's Distinguished Service Award.

This award recognizes members who have made significant contributions to MARAC and to the archival profession.

Significant contributions to MARAC include the following:

  • Service as an officer, caucus representative, committee member or chair, and as a frequent session or workshop instructor

Significant contributions to the archival profession include the following:

  • Service as a member of the board or committee or section of a national or international archival organization
  • Writing books or journal articles in the field
  • Serving as a professor or as a workshop presenter
  • Contributing to a State Historical Records Advisory Board
  • Reviewing applications for granting agencies

Please note that service to MARAC is weighted more heavily than service to the profession as a whole.

To nominate a member, you must submit the following:

  • A nomination form
  • The nominee's resume or curriculum vitae
  • A letter detailing why the nominee should receive the award
  • A second letter of support

The Committee strongly recommends providing multiple letters of support.

Nominations may be sent at any time via email or regular post. The official deadline is January 31, 2017. All nominations must be received by this date.
Addition information on the DSA award is available at  The Nomination Form is available at