Anne R. Kenney delivered her presidential address at the 1993 annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) in New Orleans.  Kenney was associate director for the Joint Collection‐Western Historical Manuscripts and University Archives at the University of Missouri‐St. Louis (1982-86).  She has been at Cornell University Library since 1987, working as associate director for the Department of Preservation and Conservation (1987-2001), as associate university librarian for instruction, research and information services (2002-6), and as university librarian (2007-present).  This address was published in the Fall 1993 issue of the American Archivist.

Kenney  used current events to inspire her address, pointing out ways in which archival documents had been in the news and challenging archivists to “begin to change public perception about our proper place and the value of records” (577).  She elaborated on several of these events:

  • The controversy surrounding the decision by the Library of Congress to open the papers of Thurgood Marshall shortly after his death in January 1993.  SAA’s Council agreed with the decision to keep access open and “called for the Library of Congress to embrace a policy of equality of access to collections, to adopt clear and unambiguous language for future agreements with donors, and to limit the archivist’s discretion regarding access and use to concerns associated with the physical protection and security of the materials” (578).
  • The creation of a review board to determine the declassification and public access of records related to Kennedy’s assassination.  SAA along with the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the American Bar Association made recommendations to President Clinton about the make-up of this board, which ultimately included past SAA president William L. Joyce.

The other primary foundation for Kenney’s address was SAA’s new strategic plan, “Leadership and Service in the 1990s.”  The key goals were (577):

  1. “to exert leadership on significant archival issues”
  2. “to improve educational opportunities”
  3. “to lead the archival profession in advancing electronic records issues”
  4. “to increase overall organizational effectiveness”

Kenney focused much of her attention on this first goal, which had three objectives: “‘exert active leadership on significant archival issues by shaping policies and standards, building effective coalitions, and improving public awareness of the value of archives'” (578).  She used the controversy over the Marshall papers as a way to emphasize the necessity of strong policy statements.  She explained that the strategic plan called for SAA to develop policy statements in three areas: “electronic records, declassification, and requirements for maintaining archival materials” (579).  She suggested all traditional alliances with SAA should be reexamined, favoring “strategic — not static — alliances . . . that are based on programmatic direction rather than tradition and that support SAA’s constant mission in a changing world: the identification, preservation, and use of the nation’s historical record” (580).  The strategic plan listed the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and the American Library Association as “allied organizations.”

She cautioned that attention should be paid to long-term plans more so than to immediate actions.  In speaking of public awareness, Kenney provided an interesting summation of the beliefs of archivists:

“that archives are fundamental to a democratic society, that access to archival sources are a public good and right, and that archival materials support sound and efficient management” (582)

Regarding the goal of advancing electronic records issues, she recounted three pieces of legislation submitted to support the Clinton-Gore administration’s initiatives to make electronic information more accessible and pointed to SAA’s establishment of a Congressional Liaison Working Group as a means to provide a greater voice.  Finally, presumably as a means of improving organizational effectiveness, Kenney emphasized the importance of identifying future leaders for SAA through student chapters, mentoring, and internships on committees, task forces, and boards.

 

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