This week’s address is exciting for me because it marks the first speech I heard in person.  Gregor Trinkaus-Randall delivered his presidential address at the 2012 annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists held in San Diego, California.  He first  worked at the State Historical Society in Wisconsin and then moved to be an “Archives, Library, Preservation and Security” consultant at Yale.  He also worked at the Computer Museum, the USS Constitution Museum in Boston Harbor, and the Peabody Museum of Salem.  Since 1988 he has served as the Preservation Specialist at the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.  His address was published in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of the American Archivist.

Trinkaus-Randall identified the digital age as one both exciting and challenging and suggested collaboration as the key to progress:

“We need to break out of these silos and push ourselves into the wide world of information professionals, whether kicking and screaming or willfully, or we risk being left behind. . . .  We need to interact with others such as librarians, museum curators, and IT personnel as well to ensure that users and researchers have access to ALL, and I emphasize ALL, our holdings” (12-13).

He summarized his interactions with the leadership of the American Library Association and the American Association of Museums regarding collaboration, emphasizing four possibilities:

  • coordinated educational offerings
  • combined research on digital preservation, especially that useful to smaller institutions
  • advocacy across libraries, archives, and museums (LAMs)
  • coordinated leadership training

Funding comes into play with both digital preservation and advocacy as LAMs must work in a concerted way to insure funding for ongoing initiatives, such as digital preservation.  Trinkaus-Randall went on to suggest that communication must be improved — both with allied professions as well as within the archival profession.  He asserted,

“We need both instigators as well as radical collaborators to move us forward. . . .  Collaboration is our way of the future” (15).

He also identified the need for better research into our users and especially how they search for information.  The possibility of federated searching is certainly a reason to foster collaboration among LAMs.  Finally, regarding the preservation of ever-changing digital media, he asserted, “we will need to ‘curate’ from its inception and through its life cycle” (17).  In closing Trinkaus-Randall acknowledged the image problem of archivists as inhabiting “dusty, moldy, backrooms or basements, caring for equally dusty, old, and often irrelevant collections” (17).  He challenged his listeners to overcome this stereotype through advocacy, cooperation, collaboration, and leadership.