Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In Sickness and In Health...

Posted by Kelly Spring, Assistant Curator of Manuscripts

Last week I attended the Spring Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) in Charleston, West Virginia. Unfortunately I came down with a nasty stomach virus during my stay. However, I was able to coax my body into cooperating enough to sit in on a couple of sessions.

Report from the Archives Leadership Institute (ALI):

Last summer, a few MARAC members were selected to participate in the first ALI. Each was on hand in WV to give a brief overview of the Institute and discuss leadership needs of archivists focusing on influencing policy and positive change within the profession.

We talked about shared values, the public sector, assessing our strengths and weaknesses, communication, and creative problem solving. I learned that the ALI is interested in promoting collaborations using vision for direction while ensuring mutual credit. Since changes are inevitable, the ALI addresses two flavors: incremental and crisis. During our session, we discussed the roles of leaders during change and how leaders can give hope, inspiration, and effect staff’s capacity for adaptation.

Finally, we touched on organizational missions, trust in leadership, candor, and brainstormed a list of values useful for leaders.

Wiki Session:

Speakers presented their experience with wikis as a management tool, a collaborative tool, and as a knowledge base system. While the session wasn’t a “how-to,” per say, I still came away with useful tips such as how to attach any formatted document to any page, and how to easily link between pages. I also learned that, if I see an interesting effect in one of the pages, I can click on Edit Text to view the commands and then leave the page without modifying it.

The speakers’ work provided me with a greater understanding of how to contribute to the library's education and research mission through this user friendly Web-based program. I realized that creating a wiki actually takes a certain amount of courage since, in most cases, anyone can edit anything on a wiki. I think I’ll make sure I have plenty of computer savvy friends checking in on my page!


The conference in WV provided wonderful opportunities to meet fellow archivists and gain insight from peers. I met with several Baltimore-area professionals and was subsequently introduced to archivists from other universities and institutions. Had I felt better, I would have loved to join attendees for the luncheon and reception. As it was, everyone understood… and, I bet, was glad to have and to hold good health, from that day forward until gastroenteritis do they temporarily part.

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