I just spent the last three days in Richmond, VA, for MARAC’s Fall 2012 Conference, held at the Omni Richmond Hotel. It was an enlightening experience where I was able to attend workshops, meet veteran archivists, and catch up with former colleagues and graduate students. Additionally, I took advantage of the various tours provided during the conference, including a behind-the-scenes tour of the Library of Virginia and a special showing of the Virginia State Capitol building.

The keynote speaker on Friday, Christy Coleman from the American Civil War Center, gave an enthusiastic – and effective – address on the necessity for archivists to go out and advocate for their institutions [and positions] before it is too late. Her ideas about getting one’s board of trustees actively involved in the both the fundraising and promotion processes required for archives to remain relevant to legislators and budget-makers who think that everything “important” should be digital. The notion of boards having to meet a percentage of the yearly fundraising goal seemed foreign to many of the archivists in the room, but I think that Ms. Coleman’s speech brought this issue to the forefront and motivated the members to make the first steps toward improved advocacy for our profession.

I went to sessions on project management, balancing privacy with access, the efforts of local historical organizations to bring attention to the War of 1812 [or, “The Forgotten War”], and using archival skills outside the archives. I chatted with staff from the Library of Virginia, the Virginia Historical Society, the University of Maryland, NARA, the Library of Congress, and representatives from other various important mid-Atlantic organizations and universities. Overall, it was a fantastic experience in a beautiful historic city, and I definitely plan on attending future conferences through MARAC!

The conference brochure can be viewed here: http://www.marac.info/assets/documents/marac_fall_2012onferenceprogram.pdf