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Welcome to Reading “Archives Power” December 18, 2009

Posted by Kate T. in Administration.

Welcome to Reading Archives Power!  As announced on the ArchivesNext blog, this site was created to support a “group read” of the book Archives Power by Randall C. Jimerson. Published by the Society of American Archivists, Archives Power is available for purchase here (and on Amazon too, of course). You can also read excerpts from the book here.

UPDATE: Don’t buy the book through Amazon! They’re listing it for a crazy price. Order it from the SAA site. If you have any problems contact me.

The plan is to begin the conversation of the book on January 11, 2010. I’ll start the conversation out for each section with a few questions or thoughts in post, and then we’ll continue the conversation in the comments. I think that as ideas or conversational threads develop I’ll probably split them off by creating a new post for it, but we’ll see how it goes. I’ve never organized anything like this, so we’ll just work it out as we go.

Here’s the schedule I’m proposing:

January 11: Power – Introduction and Chapter 3

January 18: History of archives – Chapters 1-2

January 25: Memory – revisit Chapter 3 and Chapter 4

February 1: Serving the public interest (e.g., accountability, open government, diversity, social justice) – Chapter 5-6

February 8: How archivists can respond to these issues – Chapter 6 and Conclusion

February 15. Ethics – Conclusion

Is this too optimistic? Do you want a little more breathing room between sections? I’m afraid to go a full two weeks between each section because we might lose some steam as the months pass by. Let me know what you think.

The book’s author, Rand Jimerson will be participating in the conversation. As he wrote in a comment over on ArchivesNext:

I will be glad to participate, answer questions, and join the ongoing discussion on these issues. I do hope that other participants in the book discussion will ask the tough questions and consider the potential ramifications of these ideas. My involvement will not be to defend my book but to consider all points of view, ask more questions, and perhaps explain any of my ideas or comments that are not clear to readers. I hope the book will stimulate further questions and new thinking about the issues facing archivists as well as scholars, researchers, and citizens affected by the legal, administrative, documentary, and historical aspects of recordkeeping and archives.

This should be an interesting project. Certainly the subject matter is timely and provocative. In the next post I’ll introduce myself and invite you to introduce yourselves too.

[Disclaimer: I should add that this project is not sponsored by or affiliated with the Society of American Archivists. And I paid for my own copy of the book myself!]



1. Megan Bezzo - December 21, 2009


First of all, thank you for moderating this group read of Rand Jimerson’s new book. This book presents a wonderful opportunity for an informed, thoughtful discussion about the important topics that will be covered in Archives Power. A group experience in digesting Rand’s thoughts will undoubtedly prove valuable.

I think this proposed schedule looks ambitious but feasible. I have already started reading the book and it seems to read pretty quicly, so I don’t expect a few chapters each week would be too difficult.


2. Alison S. - December 22, 2009

Kate –

I echo Megan’s thanks to you for setting this up…

I was beginning to read Rand’s new book already – and this just gives me even more structure – and folks to discuss it with too!

And I agree also with Megan also… I think the proposed reading schedule looks feasible…



3. Stan Upchurch - December 23, 2009

I look forward to the discussions. As an OJT archivist I need to listen more than talk but I’ll speak up if I can.

Thanks for do this.

4. Stan Upchurch - December 23, 2009

I really do know how to use the Kings english…. I just do not type well!

5. Lincoln Cushing - December 24, 2009

I’m willing to give it a shot, thanks for this effort to build community. I’m new to SAA, but am a political activist working with social movement archival content. I’m very interested in the slice of the archivist world that sees itself in some sort of progressive role. BTW, the “ordering” link from Jimerson’s WWU page returns a 404. And you are right about Amazon’s price – $104?!

Rand - January 5, 2010


Thanks for noting the broken link from my web page to the ordering info page for Archives Power. SAA updated its online publications catalog recently and I have not yet been able to edit my page. I’ll try to do this Wednesday. Meanwhile you can find the pubs catalog directly on the SAA page.

6. Josef - December 27, 2009

Thanks for doing this. I ordered the somewhat overpriced book today (if it’s going to influence the community at large – cut the price in half respectfully) since I went to one of Rand’s talks. In fact, the Washington Secretary of State’s office brought him in to pep up a bunch of records managers.

7. Julie Carmen - January 4, 2010

Hello all and Happy New Year! My name is Julie Carmen and I have my book which I plan to begin reading tonight.
I work at Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. I am a research librarian and work with the special collections within the Tell Ertl Oil Shale Repository. I look forward to the discussion.


8. Kate Cruikshank - January 6, 2010

Thanks to Kate for organizing this — I’m looking forward to discussing an important book with a group of interested people. I’m a congressional papers archivist at Indiana University and think a lot about what we want these papers to be yielding in terms of understanding how our government works. I think the schedule is fine — I’ve always liked intensive courses and want to keep my own momentum up.

9. Elena Danielson - January 7, 2010

Thank you so very much for setting up this online discussion. I read Rand’s book, but felt frustrated that there was no one I could discuss it with. Now we have a forum. My name is Elena Danielson, and I worked in the Hoover Archives at Stanford for 27 year before retiring in 2005. In retirement I’ve been reading up on what I did all those years, and my opinions have been changing dramatically. Wish I had considered these topics earlier in my career.

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