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April 19 Twitter Chat: Collection Development and Acquisition Policies

Join us April 19 at 7pm EST for a twitter chat on collection development and acquisition policies! We’ll be asking the archives community to weigh in on the following questions:

  1. Do you think collection development or acquisition policies are necessary? 
  2. After reading through the survey at, any initial thoughts or feedback?
  3. Do the survey results represent your institution accurately? 
  4. The data indicates many often have little influence on writing a policy, what would increase your ability to influence it more? 
  5. Do you think these kinds of policies should be easily available, such as on institutional websites?  Why or why not? 
  6. For those whose policies need revision before uploading, could the A&A section offer some assistance? In what form? 
  7. For those whose institution lack policies, what would help you get those written?
  8. Could the A&A section offer assistance to get that process jump-started? 
  9. What do you think are best practices in the creation of collection development policies?

We hope to hear from you @AppraisalSAA – remember to end your tweets with #AppraiseThis so we can include you in the conversation!



Deadline EXTENDED! 2017 Election Call for Nominations

As you may have heard, the Acquisition & Appraisal Section is currently accepting nominations for candidates to join our Section leadership team! Three spots are available: Vice Chair/Chair Elect, and (2) Steering Committee positions.

Nomination deadline has been extended to this Friday, May 19th June 2nd.

So send us your information for nomination or, alternatively, nominate another person. Our Nominations Committee is also happy to answer any questions.

Please review the SAA A&A website for further information on available candidate positions and the upcoming election.




Collection development policy work (and how you can help)

The newly-formed Best Practices Subcommittee, working under the auspices of the Acquisitions and Appraisal Section Steering Committee, has begun a project to collect samples of acquisition and collection development policies from institutions across the United States and internationally.

This is the second project for this subcommittee to tackle since its inception (the first was a survey of abandoned museum and archives property statutes throughout the US, the subject of a recent Archival Outlook article, available online). It was chosen as a high priority for several reasons: collection development policies are central to the work of acquisition and appraisal, and therefore to the rest of the work conducted by an archives; reviewing existing policies can help other institutions refrain from reinventing the wheel; and because members of the section and beyond have requested more resources and help when developing and writing their own institution’s policies. The project has already sparked a great deal of interest, and we’ll be glad to share our findings after we analyze our available data.

To date, several individuals have volunteered their institutional policies to the subcommittee; the subcommittee has also found several policies made publicly available online. Most of these policies originate from academic repositories or state historical societies.  The number of examples received from other institutional types or found online remains low. The subcommittee is exploring ways to increase participation from other types of repositories.

Several repositories have been unwilling and/or unable to share their policies, due to policies being out-of-date or reworked, and not ready to be shared publicly.  Institutions may also not be thinking about their documentation as policy. The SAA glossary defines an acquisition policy as “An official statement issued by an archives or manuscript repository identifying the kinds of materials it accepts and the conditions or terms that affect their acquisition,” (and relates the term collection development to this type of policy), but the subcommittee is aware that many organizations rely on other document types when appraising potential collections to acquire. These documents may be embedded in larger institutional policies (particularly if an archives is part of a larger institution, such as a museum or library); the institution may communicate this information separately from a  formal collections “policy” that nonetheless governs how the institution chooses what to acquire. The information may also be embedded in statutory language or legal mandates and agreements.  

For the present, we encourage individuals to respond to our call, even if their acquisition criteria fall under other document types, including donor guidelines, gift agreements, records retention schedules, information about what your institution will take as provided on your website, etc.

Potential outcomes for this project include a policy portal for other institutions to review published policies for inspiration, guidance documents, and templates for institutions that lack or need to update a policy. Other possible final products are possible, based on what additional data we can gather.

You can help!  To gather more information to guide our work, the subcommittee has developed a very brief, anonymous survey. This should take no more than 5–10 minutes to complete and will provide insights the Best Practices Subcommittee can use to develop its next steps in providing useful tools for archivists, collection managers, and administrators.  You can find the survey here:  We plan to keep the survey open until December 15, 2016.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the subcommittee’s co-chairs, who are also members of the Acquisitions & Appraisal Section’s Steering Committee:  Marcella Huggard, and Julie May,

Recap: Third Thursday on All Things Appraisal

Last week we hosted our first Third Thursday Conversation on Twitter as a general chat about all things appraisal. This interactive conversation was led by six questions posed by @AppraisalSAA. In case you missed it, here is a summary of the chat.

Want to participate next time? Our next Third Thursday Conversation is on December 15th and we’ll be focusing on appraising research data. If you have any questions or feedback about Third Thursdays, please get in touch with us!


Third Thursdays #2: Get ready for March!

The second edition of our monthly conversation series, Third Thursdays, will be held on Thursday, March 17, from 11:30am-1:30pm US Central Time— that’s right, St. Patrick’s Day!  On the third Thursday of each month, mark your calendar to join us here on the Section blog for Third Thursdays Appraisal Conversations— for what we hope will be lively and informative discussion.

Our conversation for March will focus on these questions, all centered around learning and the important archival function of appraisal:

  • Where do you learn about appraisal?
  • What is the most provocative, useful, or thoughtful comment that you have read (or heard) about appraisal from others?
  • What advice would you give to a new archivist who is interested in learning more about appraisal?

Please help us make this a conversation that connects with your interests!

This asynchronous conversation is scheduled for Thursday, March 17th, from 11:30am-1:30pm US Central Standard Time. Bring your questions, challenges, concerns, and thoughts about appraisal so that we can all learn from each other!
If you can’t join us on that day and want to send us your thoughts in advance, you can do so here:

Did you miss our February conversation? You can read the responses and our wrap up here:

We’ll also be tweeting about this– follow us on Twitter if you don’t already!

This is an experiment, so let us know what you think!

    -SAA Appraisal & Acquisition Steering Committee

Nominations for Leadership Positions: Due June 1, 2015

The Acquisitions and Appraisal Section is seeking nominations for candidates to run for the following three positions:

  • Vice-Chair / Chair-Elect
  • Steering Committee At-Large Member (2 positions available)

In order to be nominated for these positions, candidates must be a member of the Society of American Archivists and a member of the Acquisitions and Appraisal Section.  You are invited to nominate yourself or someone else for any of the above positions.  Please include name, email address, phone number, and institution (if available) of the suggested candidate.

The duties of these appointments are as follows:

Vice Chair/Chair Elect:

  • Once elected, the Vice Chair serves for one year as vice chair (2015-2016), beginning at the conclusion of the SAA Annual Meeting. During this time, the Vice Chair assists with communication and outreach efforts, takes minutes at Section meetings, and acts as the chair in the absence of the Section Chair.
  • At the conclusion of the 2016 Annual Meeting, the Vice Chair then assumes the role of Chair for the next year (2016-2017), and subsequently, as Past Chair (2017-2018).
  • While serving as Chair, this person will preside at meetings of the Section and the steering committee; coordinate Section-proposed sessions for the annual meeting and section endorsements; and with other officers sets the Section’s agenda for the year. The chair also represents the Section in its relations with SAA in general and with the Council and other groups within the Society; appoints Section committees as needed; and coordinates preparation of an annual report of Section activities and submits it to the SAA executive office.
  • While serving as the Past Chair, this person will be responsible for chairing the Nominating Committee for that year’s section election. In each role, this person is expected to attend the SAA Annual Meeting.

Steering Committee Members (At large):

  • These members will serve two-year terms (2015-2017), eligible for reelection to a second term.
  • May serve on the Nominating Committee, assist in planning the Section meeting program, assist in planning annual meeting sessions of interest to the Section, or other responsibilities as assigned. They also participate in discussion of Section business and are expected to attend the annual meeting.

Nominations are due June 1, 2015; candidate information will be due by June 15, 2015.  Elections will be held online in summer of 2015, prior to the annual meeting in August.

Please send suggestions for candidates to all members of the Nominating Committee by May 29, 2015:

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.  Thank you!

Call for proposals (deadline: October 8th)

It’s that time again – session proposals for the SAA 79th annual meeting are due October 8th, and we want to hear your ideas!
Cleveland 2015 will continue the current trend of shorter, less formal, and more interactive sessions. While there will not be a specific theme for the meeting or section endorsements, the A&A Steering Committees is here to bring the membership together and help brainstorm, develop, and propose sessions.

We’ve started a document  compiling a few ideas. Please add your name (or comment/email us) if you are interested in chairing, speaking, or just helping put together a proposal! If you’ve heard about a great session idea that another section, roundtable, or individual is working related to donor relations, acquisitions, or appraisal – please pass it on! We want to collaborate as much as possible with efforts underway by other affinity groups and the general SAA membership.

Questions? Not sure what’s involved in proposing a session?