January 9, 2016

  1. The committee approved the minutes from the previous year.
  2. Membership:
    • Chair Giovanna Vitelli announced that she was stepping down as chair and Sara Rivers Cofield had agreed to take over as chair.
    • The new Board liaison for the committee was introduced, Timo Ylimaunu.
  3. Presentation of projects:
    • Sara RC reported that she had not been actively working on the project to keep up an “Artifact Obsession” series in the newsletter. This was an attempt to get artifact experts to declare their interests to the SHA Membership. There had been very little response to the initial newsletter feature, and no better response when this was also added to the blog. Still, in lieu of better ideas for reaching out Sara declared her intent to resume the effort.
    • Norine C. reported on her work on behalf of the committee to advise Camille Czerkowicz, Project Manager for Archaeology at the Museum of the City of New York. Camille has been working with the Landmarks Preservation Commission in New York City to inventory and rehouse archaeology collections from New York City that are owned by the city and are being moved to a new climate controlled curation facility in Midtown Manhattan. Among other things the project required a retention strategy for existing collections, so Camille sought advice from many professionals, including the Committee, in order to develop the plan. Norine took the lead on behalf of the Committee and reported on her review of Camille’s proposed guidelines.
  4. Plans and goals
    • Thematic sessions: There were several collections-based sessions at the 2016 SHA conference and there was general agreement that the Committee should consistently sponsor and encourage such sessions
    • Expertise resource: As mentioned above, this effort stalled because of lack of response to the first article, and failure to get momentum in creating new articles. Still, the plan is to revive the effort and see if getting more articles out builds momentum. As a sidebar here, it was generally agreed that it would be a good thing for the Committee to make sure that there’s something collections-related in each issue of the newsletter, even if it’s not specifically related to the expertise project.
    • SHA Minutes- Retirement “dating service”: Sara RC expressed particular concern about the potential for a new collections crisis (not that the crisis of the last 30 years ever really abated) as the baby boomer generation of archaeologists reaches retirement [this being a worry planted in Sara’s head by Terry Majewski at an ACC meeting a while ago]. Sara wondered if there could be a way to match up impending retirees with willing grad students they would like to work with by way of passing the torch. The idea is that it might be easier to motivate folks to clean up after a career if there’s a student whose education depends on it, especially if each pairing has funding and standards to follow to ensure the future of the collections. This discussion also included mention of using tDAR to create named collections that retirees can leave as a legacy, and Leigh Ann Ellison of tDAR was open to the idea. So far, however, there is no operational plan for making this happen. This topic is probably something that should be tackled in conjunction with the ethics committee.
    • SHA Workshops: There is interest in the committee membership in potentially sponsoring some collections-related workshops or webinars. A few topics were discussed such as:
      • Best practices in collections care/packaging, etc.
      • Resources for curators, like affordable supplies and other cost-saving tips
      • Advice to grad students on responsibilities for the collections they generate (a need pointed out by Liza Gijanto who now regrets not being more informed before she acquired collections in Africa and then brought them with her to the U.S.)
        The membership then discussed possible ways of reaching out other than workshops, such as YouTube videos, which might make more sense for best practices that should be available to everyone at any time.
      • Awards: Giovanna V. suggested that the Committee consider approaching the Board about creating a collections-related award.
  5. Discussion/New Business from attendees
    • Emily Williams expressed an interest in updating the Conservation FAQ feature on the SHA website if the committee could help facilitate this with the SHA webmaster. She also thought that sections could be added on general collections management practices.
    • There was a general interest in having SHA do a better job of helping the membership know what resources are available for people working with collections. For example:

      • The website could link to the various State standards and guidelines for collections processing (if available). Sara RC said she’d reach out to Terry Childs of the DOI to see if anyone there or at the NPS already had a list of State standards compiled.
      • Additionally, SHA could come up with its own standards and guidelines for processing collections, which would be particularly helpful to those in states and regions where no standards have been adopted.
      • Funding: Is there funding available for orphaned collections, digital data preservation in tDAR, etc.
  6. Adjournment