Collection Committee Minutes 2019
January 12, 2019, St. Charles, MO
1) The committee approved the minutes from the previous year.
2) Attendance /Membership:
- Those in attendance were: Sara Rivers-Cofield (Chair), Lisa Fischer (SHA Board liaison), Jenn Ogborne, Robert Chidester, Danielle Cathcart, Elizabeth Bollwerk, Gifford Waters, Terry Majewski, Mark Warner, Brad Jones, Jennifer Rogerson Jennings, Julie King, Patricia Samford, Jade Luiz, Beth Waters Johnson, Katie Boyle, Jenn Porter-Lupu, Jennifer Pulsen, Katherine Sims
- Committee chair Sara Rivers-Cofield passed around the sign-in sheet, making the usual statement that membership is really open to anyone who wants to serve, but she also offers the option of being a “lurker” on the e-mail list.
3) Update on the Archaeological Collections Consortium (ACC): Sara RC reported on the activities of the ACC for the year, with the help of Mark Warner and Julie King. The ACC is a curation-focused group bringing together members of SHA, SAA, and ACRA collections committees to work together on collections concerns in archaeology. Sara and Mark are serving as co-chairs of the ACC, which worked on three main projects in 2018:
- Finalizing a new edited volume on curation/collections management due out in June 2019. Sara provided fliers from the SAA press.
- Publishing guidance for “no-collection” fieldwork projects which seem to be a growing trend in the western U.S. but currently lack regulation. Once approved by the boards of the SAA, SHA, and ACRA this was published by all three organizations in their respective newsletters.
- Pulling together curricula for teaching about collections in various academic and professional settings, whether it is one lecture in an Intro to Archaeology class, a whole class devoted to archaeological collections, or a workshop for cultural resource managers on collections. This is almost ready to be linked to the CCC’s section of the SHA website.
New projects discussed by the ACC for 2019 include:
- Founding an organization of archaeological repositories.
- Writing an article that critiques the overemphasis on conducting new fieldwork to get a graduate degree in archaeology while collections-based research is not emphasized.
- Writing an article on best practices for documenting newly-generated CRM collections that private owners are not willing to donate to a repository.
4) Presentation of projects:
- Sara RC led a forum at the conference on the lack of consensus in artifact cataloging practices, with several panelists from the CCC. A common theme was that one size does not fit all and different goals require different formats and techniques (i.e. pulling collections for access, generating catalogs for CRM, using catalogs as data without physically accessing collections, etc.)
- Mark Warner led a forum on retention practices in historical archaeology, along with Sara RC, Julie King, and Brad Jones as panelists.
- Beth Bollwerk and Beatrix Arendt taught a workshop on collections-based research, which was well attended and well received. Beth reported that they are willing to do the workshop again, possibly extending the time to allow more in-depth coverage of different approaches (i.e. physical access vs. using data available remotely).
- Sara RC worked with Tim Goddard of the SHA Technology Committee to offer a “Technology and Curation Resource Room” Thursday and Friday at the conference. For the CCC, this amounted to having Sara RC man an “Ask a Curator” table. A few people did come by with inquiries, but in general attendance was slow, even though the location was in the back of the book room. We’d like the CCC to continue offering the Ask a Curator table, but it needs better coordination with the conference program chairs to promote it, and it might be better to have a more limited time frame. Also discussed was the idea of having a student exhibition to showcase collections-based research. It remains to be seen how this effort will take shape in future years, but it is unlikely to look just like it did at the St. Charles conference.
- Sara RC reported that the CCC now has its own section of the SHA website, and can add content as it sees fit.
5) Plans and goals:
- Curation Repository Survey: The sub-committee in the repository survey was not in attendance, but it just needs to be finalized and added to the website.
- Helpful Resources: Last year we decided to accumulate links with helpful resources instead of trying to make these resources ourselves, but there was no follow-up. Now that the website is in place, all we need is to start working on it.
- Conservation FAQ: Emily Williams was not in attendance but expressed her continued interest in the Committee through e-mail. Updating the conservation FAQ is her project.
- Generating Content: There is still general agreement that writing up curation and collections content for newsletters and social media is a good thing. It just needs willing participants. Beth Bollwerk offered to write a blog about the workshop on conducting collections-based research.
- Conference presence: Plans for Boston so far include some iteration of the Ask a Curator table, and a reprisal of the collections-based research workshop. We are looking for additional ideas.
- Collections Award: The CCC still wants to work on nominating people and institutions who work on collections for existing SHA awards. Better coordination with the awards committee is needed to ensure reminding the CCC membership in time to meet the deadlines.
- Bottle residue analysis: As always, Mark Warner reiterated an offer from the University of Idaho to do free bottle residue analysis (sender pays shipping). Just e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6) Discussion/New Business from attendees
- No brand new plans were discussed; just more ideas for following-up on content-generation, workshops, etc. as discussed above.