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SVREP: Conference Travel 2017

August 28, 2017

This year I had the wonderful opportunity to attend three conferences to promote the SVREP collection. Besides giving a presentation, attending others, and networking, another wonderful aspect about conferences is the opportunity to visit and experience different cities around the country. While most conferences choose larger cities to host, smaller organizations often offer the chance to explore lesser known cities. For each conference I have listed some quick facts, a grade for networking and an overall grade for the conference.

Conference: Society of Southwest Archivists

Location: Fayetteville, AK

Dates: May 24-27th         

Networking: A

Tours/Extra Activities: Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

Swag: Tote bag, coupons, lots of little extras!

Grade: A

I first attended the Society of Southwest Archivists in Fayetteville, Arkansas, May 24-27th. Amy and I, along with Ann Hodges from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, and Jennifer Giambrone and Erin Mashni from History Associates gave a joint presentation. We focused on how we processed large activism collections, including project initiation, management, and promotion. Since we were not in the same location, the planning for the presentation was conducted remotely. While it was difficult to sync schedules with so many individuals, we made it work and relied on Google Docs to work on our presentation and Doodle Polls to schedule meetings. At the conference, our panel was well attended and received a lot of positive feedback. It was also wonderful to meet everyone in person after strictly communicating through phone and email.

 

The rest of the conference was very informative. Not being a native of Texas, it was an opportunity to introduce myself to other archivists from Texas, as well as others from the Southwest region. I really enjoyed this conference because it was smaller, which gave me opportunity to have meaningful conversations with individuals, rather than just exchanging business cards.  Having never been to Arkansas, I was excited to explore Fayetteville, as I had never heard of the city prior to attending. While it was somewhat difficult to get to, I loved it! There was plenty of unique shops and restaurants and the locals were very welcoming and helpful. I almost could see myself living there, which really surprised me! In any case, I know I will be back soon to visit, especially to take advantage of the outdoor activities I didn’t have time for.

Conference: Society of American Archivists

Location: Portland, Oregon

Dates: July 23rd-29th                       

Networking: C-

Tours/Extra Activities: Happy Hour, Portland Food Trucks

Swag: Fancy Name Tag

Grade: B-

The second conference I attended was the Society of American Archivists from July 26th-29th. Since the registration and hotel fee was expensive, I only attended the conference when the panels began and did not attend any workshops. Instead of presenting on a panel, I created a poster presentation. My poster presentation focused on the core issues of the collection that included voter registration, gerrymandering and lack of diversity among elected officials. This required me to accompany my poster to answer questions and network. Having prior experience with poster presentations, I knew I had to have something extra to gain interest. I decided to create a small zine about the collection, including a description of SVREP, Willie Velasquez, accessibility, and the importance of the collection. It was great to offer these out to conference attendees along with my business cards. It was very useful to have those on hand and give a quick reference to the project I was working on. I will use this method for future presentations and have found that those certain handouts are very important to promote any type of collection.

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Click here to view my poster!

Since this was a national conference with over 1,000 attendees, it was exciting, but also very difficult to network with others. Sometimes I was lucky to see someone I knew once during the entire conference, which made it frustrating. On the positive end, there were so many panels to choose from that there was always something of interest happening. I was a little disappointed with the high cost of the conference in regards to the swag we received. The University of Arkansas did an amazing job of finding sponsors for every activity and it showed with the effort they put into every event. I was hoping that for a $330 registration fee that we would get a little more than a name tag. However, I realized that bigger conferences cost more, and in all fairness the money probably went to an amazing food truck night where there was about 10 food trucks with free food. This brings me to highlight of the trip: Portland’s food was amazing and I was able to experience many different places in the downtown area where the hotel was. Powell’s Bookstore was my favorite place, claiming to be the world’s largest independent bookstore….yes I spent a couple hours in there!

 

My next adventure will be this coming week, attending the American Political Science Association annual conference in San Francisco, California. I am eager to present our digital poster to attendees that are not from an archives background and any feedback they will offer us. As achieve professionals, I think it is easy to get caught in our archives bubble and forget about the other career fields that can take advantage of the collections. It is also an amazing opportunity to let others know the archives world exists and how the material could benefit their area of expertise.

***This project is generously funded by the NHPRC**

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