Category Archives: Advocacy and Outreach

MayDay-Protecting our Archives in Ohio

MayDay is almost here!  SAA has designated May 1st as MayDay, a day for archivists to take personal and professional responsibility for doing something small, but significant to protect their collections in the event of a disaster.  Repositories in Ohio are being proactive and preparing for a potential disaster before it occurs.

MayDay Activities Across the State

Denison University will be celebrating MayDay by holding a viewing party for the Connecting to Collections webinar, “After Disasters.”  The hosting group is “DERT”, which stands for Disaster and Emergency Recovery Team.

Greene County has invited local firefighters to visit the Greene County Records Center and Archives on May 1st.  This visit will give the firefighters an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the facility, the types of records that are in the collection, as well as consider how they could most effectively fight a fire at this location.  Greene County is also planning to go through their Disaster Kit and inventory their emergency supplies and make sure that they are prepared for a potential disaster.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) recognizes MayDay each year by preparing and distributing two different wallet sized cards.  This project is led by the NMUSAF Disaster Response Team (DRT).  The wallet sized cards include phone tree cards for DRT members and Disaster Information Cards for all staff that includes names and phone numbers of DRT members to call in the event of an incident.

One of the ideas listed on the SAA website is to make sure that all collections are in boxes and up off of the floor.  Bowling Green University and the Akron Summit County Public Library are holding workshops on “Learning to Preserve Valuable Collections Using Basic Enclosures.”  Properly constructed enclosures can provide protection from a variety of threats.

Is your repository prepared for a potential disaster?  Use this opportunity to do something, no matter how simple, to protect your collections!  When is the last time you had a fire drill, updated your staff emergency contact information or inventoried your emergency supply kit?  Have you been putting off revising your Disaster Preparedness Plan?  The time to complete these projects is before a disaster occurs!!

 It’s not too late to get involved!  The SOA Advocacy & Outreach Committee would like to encourage all Ohio repositories to participate in MayDay, this Friday, May 1st.  Remember, even a simple activity can have a significant impact on the response to a disaster.  If you’re not sure what to do, SAA provides a list of potential MayDay activities.

Possible Elimination of the IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has been in existence for 19 short years. The IMLS was established in 1996 under the umbrella of the Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA). The MLSA authorizes both the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Museum Services Act (MSA). (Don’t you just love acronyms?)

Now in 2015, discussion is already well underway in the U.S. Congress regarding the reauthorization of the MLSA in 2016. In order for the MLSA — and consequently — the IMLS to continue to exist after Sept. 30, 2016, it must be readopted by both houses of Congress and signed by the President.

Indeed, last April, House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan released his budget proposal for FY 2015. Ryan’s proposed budget advocated cutting $5 trillion from federal balance sheets. In part, this projected budget trimming would come from the suggested elimination of the IMLS. In sharp contrast, the President’s proposed federal budget for FY 2016 includes a $9.6 million increase for IMLS.

A quote from the excerpt of the House bill/budget resolution recently passed maintains that the funding for libraries and museums previously coming out of the IMLS ‘”is not a core Federal responsibility. This function can be funded at the State and local level and augmented significantly by charitable contributions from the private sector”’. Oh, really?

Should SOA members — along with the Ohio archives, historical society, library, and museum community in general — be concerned about the possibility of losing the IMLS? We should be very apprehensive.

Why worry?

First, Ohio institutions and organizations would stand to lose significant amounts in funding and future grants from the IMLS. Ohio would also lose funding previously obtained from the LSTA if the MLSA is not reauthorized. Among past LSTA grant funding has been the digitization of special collections – a project area probably near and dear to most of our hearts. Two priorities for the IMLS in 2015 are “Learning in Libraries” and a “National Digital Platform”. IMLS currently has about $26 million targeted for grant proposals this year.

Perhaps even more important in the long run, in the event of elimination of the MLSA, would be the negative message from the Federal government regarding the importance of archives, libraries, and museums in general. Doing away with the MLSA/LSTA/IMLS would reinforce the message that the public history-, archives-, library- and museums-sector is not important enough to receive Federal funding.

To quote Susan Hildreth, current director of the IMLS: ‘We are living at a time when the strategic use of resources could not be more important. IMLS’s role – to provide leadership, funding, data, strategic partnerships, knowledge sharing, and policy analysis – helps libraries and museums improve their services.’

I suggest that SOA members follow the recommendation of the Ohio State Librarian’s Office and join the discussion on National Library Legislative Day (NLLD) on May 4-5, 2015.

Michele Tollie-Porter,
For the SOA Committee on Advocacy and Outreach

SOA and Congressional History Caucus Effort—Member Help Is Needed

The National Coalition for History (NCH) is trying to help create a Congressional History Caucus in the US House of Representatives. The Society of Ohio Archivists is a member of NCH and the SOA Advocacy group of the Advocacy & Outreach Committee supports the effort.

For more information on this effort, go to the NCH web site and the related “Dear Colleague” letter in the House to see the purpose and goals for the caucus.

NCH’s goal is to have 50 members signed on before Congress breaks for the Memorial Day recess. The SOA Advocacy group would like to see SOA members to invite members of the Ohio delegation to become members of the caucus. We need for SOA members (plus friends and associates too) to contact your representatives—or their staff members—to encourage them to join. Phone calls, e-mails, visits to the district offices are all good. We ask that you make the contacts before the SOA spring conference. For information on House members from Ohio go and to the list for Ohio. Most members have a web site that includes phone numbers for both the DC and district offices. And once you do make the contact please let either Robin Heise ( or George Bain ( know so we can assess how well we are doing and what we can expect from this. Thanks.

Advocacy & Outreach Committee Participates in Statehood Day

Several members of the SOA Advocacy & Outreach Committee will be participating in Statehood Day on March 4, 2015 in an effort to promote and support the CARMA (County Archivists and Records Managers Association) Legislative Committee’s proposal to amend ORC 149.43. This proposal would lift any access restrictions on records with permanent retention after 100 years from the date the record is finalized and closed.

Statehood Day is a day to celebrate the history of the State of Ohio as well as a day to advocate on legislative issues that may impact archival repositories throughout the state. Committee members will be available and working with the CARMA Legislative Committee to promote their proposal and answer any questions that participants may have. Committee members will also be encouraging participants to bring this issue to their local legislative representative and to explain the importance of this proposed amendment.

Important records such as: Adoptions, Lunacy, County Home Registers, Children’s Home Registers, Witness Dockets, Juvenile Court Cases, and Veteran’s Relief Records are some of the records that would become open to the public if this proposal is adopted. These records are important to researchers as they provide valuable insight into our collective history as a state, as a society, and as families. For more information on the CARMA proposal, please visit the SOA Advocacy & Outreach Committee at Statehood Day.

For more information please visit Ohio History Connection’s page for Statehood day.