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Closing Out 2020 and Preparing for 2021

We are finally nearing the end of the year. It’s been tough for so many reasons and I hope that what I’ve provided this year has helped you in some small way. I am going to take a break for Thanksgiving week and then shutdown for 2-weeks from December 21-January 4, 2021. With that in mind, this will be my last newsletter for the year and I have some new webinars to share with you as well as links to the recorded ones from the past month.

As a member of my community you can register for the webinar and attend the day of the premiere, or wait to receive a link to watch it on-demand (sent 24-hours later). Please note that each webinar invites you to send questions ahead of time via the registration page, so make sure to send in your questions if you’d like me to address them during the presentation. These webinars are free to attend and will begin at 11am Pacific on their stated premiere date–unless noted otherwise.

Upcoming Webinars

December 3: Strategies for How to Attract and Train the Best Volunteers, presented by Rachael Cristine Woody. Learn more and register here.


December 17 @7:30pm Pacific: Ask Me Anything: Astoria Public Library’s Historical Collections, presented by Rachael Cristine Woody and historian John Goodenberger. Learn more and register here.


January 7: How Much am I Worth?, presented by Rachael Cristine Woody. Learn more and register here.


January 21: CMS 101: Searching, Procuring, and Implementing, presented by Rachael Cristine Woody. Learn more and register here.
 

Whether you’re from a big institution or a small organization, we all have relied upon volunteers to help get our work done. While hosting volunteers can be a mutually beneficial relationship, it’s important to ensure the practice is operating ethically and not in a way that harms or devalues collection work. This webinar will outline how to construct an ethical and attractive volunteer program, review where and how to recruit awesome volunteers, suggest the best types of projects to consider for volunteers, and review the most effective ways to train volunteers on subjects ranging from archival theory to digital collections management. By the end of this webinar you’ll have the strategy and tools you need to get back to your job, and have your volunteers operating confidently and with minimal hand-holding. To reserve your spot please register here.

This is an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session where City of Astoria historian John Goodenberger and consulting archivist Rachael Woody team up to answer questions related to the history of Astoria and the treasure trove of historical artifacts found in the basement of the Astoria Public Library.  This webinar was made possible thanks to the Astor Library Friends Association and the Oregon Cultural Trust. Please note this webinar starts at 7:30pm Pacific in order to accommodate the Astoria community. To reserve your spot please register here.

Archivists and Museum Professionals have noticed a steady decline in the value they’re being paid to do collection work. Even pre-COVID the availability of mid-career, well paying jobs (equivalent to professional work that requires a masters), and paying entry work were scarce. And now that COVID has happened the cultural heritage field is experiencing an economic collapse the likes of which we have never seen. So where does that leave us? How do we continue to protect the value of our work and advocate for our worth in the profession? And how can we translate that message into one that convincingly advocates for compensation that not only pays a living wage, but adequately matches the level of knowledge, skills, and experience required? Rachael Woody has studied the value of collection workers for several years, conducted a literature review and study in 2019, and is well versed in salary information and resources. This webinar will review what our collective value is, teach you how to calculate your own worth, and offer guidance on how to effectively advocate for yourself and your colleagues. To reserve your spot please register here.

A Collections Management System (CMS) is a long-term investment in staff time, collections care, and money. This means the CMS in place needs to be purposefully selected based off a vetted list of specifications that meet every user need. Once a CMS is selected, staff need to be prepared for the realities of what implementation and collections migration will entail. The process is long and often complicated due to the heavy technical and process knowledge required. To help collection workers through this process, this webinar will guide you through how to search for, select, buy, implement, migrate to, and maximize the value of the CMS. Each section will review the important elements of the process, will highlight areas you should be particularly aware of, and will offer tips to help you navigate the process successfully. To reserve your spot please register here.

Speaking of Webinars…

Did you catch the Archives are Always EssentialAsk Me Anything: Grants Edition, and the Breaking with Tradition: Creating Connection in the Archives with New Types of Access webinar events? If you missed them, or want to watch them again, it’s available via my YouTube channel. 

Signing Off

May the end of this year hold no more surprises for us. And may the new year hold health, happiness, and peace for you and your loved ones.

Rachael

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A List of Webinars for the Remainder of 2020

To get us through the remainder of 2020 I’ve put together a series of webinars to help support you. As a member of my community you can register to receive information to watch the webinar the day of, or wait to receive a link to watch it on-demand. Each webinar invites you to send questions ahead of time via the registration page so make sure to send in your questions if you’d like me to address them during the presentation. These webinars are free to attend and will begin at 11am Pacific on their stated premiere date–unless noted otherwise.

2020 Webinar Schedule

October 22: Archives are Always Essential, presented by Rachael Cristine Woody with Ryan Anthony Donaldson. Learn more and register here. Update: Recording is now available here.

Abstract: Many of us in the field know that archives are essential, but sometimes it feels like a best-kept secret. It’s challenging to convey the true value of our collections despite our best efforts with digital content, social media, and other outreach and awareness activities. It’s time to unleash the full potential of heritage collections and archives and we’ll show you how. This webinar will review historic outreach challenges, and how they’ve been compounded and complicated by larger global events in 2020. And in honor of Archives Month, we will explore proactive and actionable responses to these challenges–including relevant examples and additional voices.

November 5: Ask Me Anything: Grants Edition, presented by Rachael Cristine Woody. Learn more and register here. Update: Recording is now available here.

Abstract: When you think of grant writing what comes to mind? For my clients it’s usually a feeling of overwhelm as you juggle the need for grant money with the intense pressure to craft a winning grant proposal. And unfortunately 2020 has only increased the level of competition as every library, archives, and museum struggles to keep financially afloat. If ever there was a time to get good at grant writing–it’s now. So what grant writing roadblocks are in between you and writing grants with confidence? Tell me what they are and let’s get into it.

Save the Date

November 12: Breaking with Tradition: Creating Connections in the Archives with New Types of Access, presented by Rachael Cristine Woody with Bridgett Kathryn Pride. Update: Recording is now available here.

Abstract: When the general public is introduced to the archives it’s often an intimidating experience. Our ceremony of white gloves, use of expensive boxes, and enforcement of heavily restricted collections access all serve to intimidate and dissuade new users. Whether we intend to or not, archivists are sending the message that they are the gatekeepers of the collection and only “serious business” can be conducted with the collections. So, how do we break that messaging down? How can we serve up the collections in a way that is not only inviting, but inspirational? Rachael Woody is teaming up with Bridgett Kathryn Pride to talk about breaking down archival barriers, empowering novice users, and creating points of access to collections through artful guidance.

December 3: Strategies for How to Attract and Train the Best Volunteers, presented by Rachael Cristine Woody. Update: Registration is now available here.

Sign up for my newsletter to receive an invitation to register for these events when they’re available.

Speaking of Webinars…

Did you catch the Ask Me Anything: Career Edition webinar event? If you missed it, or want to watch it again, it’s available via YouTube:

AMA: Career Edition

Here’s what one webinar attendee shared with me:

Recent Features

As many of you know, I created and co-sponsored the Archivist-in-Residence program for Northwest Archivists. Our resident has just completed their first month and you can read about the challenges and opportunities they encountered working remotely on a historical collection, via the NWA Blog.

I recently completed an Oregon Cultural Trust-sponsored project with Astoria Public Library. The original project was supposed to include hosting community events with the collections. Due to COVID-19 we can’t safely meet with the community; however, we can bring the collections to them (virtually)! Please check out our introduction video explaining the project, and our first collection feature on local historian Russell Dark.

An Introduction to the Historical Collection Work at Astoria Public Library
Featuring the Russell Dark Collection from Astoria Public Library

Finally, check out a few of my posts via Lucidea’s Think Clearly Blog:

May this post find you safe and healthy. Best wishes,

Rachael

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Increase Your Financial Resilience

Hello, and welcome to summer? Or, if you’re struggling with time losing all meaning–like I am–then welcome to sometime in March when I stopped counting. I’m back from my brief medical break and am feeling strong and ready to dig in. With that in mind, here’s a roundup of recent content I’ve created to help you increase your financial resilience; including two items to write your representatives about that (if passed) will increase funding for libraries, archives, and museums.

Amos enjoys soaking his feet in the pool and crushing all the pink colored balls.

Increase Your Financial Resilience with These New Resources

A screenshot of Rachael Cristine Consulting's Get into Grants registration page. The page includes notes on course content and the registration form.

In order to become more financially resilient, we must build up our funding muscles. This includes knowing where your organization’s money comes from and how you can get more of it. To that end, I have new funding related content to share with you:

1. Over at Lucidea’s Think Clearly blog (where I’m a regular guest blogger) I’ve written a series of posts breaking down the American Alliance of Museums’ TrendsWatch2020 report. This year focused on financial sustainability and was written pre-COVID. I’ve taken each each income stream covered by AAM, summarized the content, and have added my recommendations for how to adapt and increase the health of these income streams in this new economic reality. No matter what your job is, it’s always a good idea to understand where your organization’s money is coming from and what you can do to strengthen each income stream toward a more resilient financial future. Here are the first four of six posts:

An Introduction to Financial Sustainability

Earned Income

Charitable Income

Government Income

Catch the final two in the series via the Think Clearly blog on July 22 (Financial Capital) and July 29 (Fostering Financial Sustainability).

2. My course content site has launched and is now available to everyone. A huge thank you to those who’ve joined me in the first course: Get into Grants! This course is free and open to everyone so please feel free to share the link with colleagues who may need this resource. Given that grants make up a majority of funds from both charitable and government income streams, it’s critical for you to get into and master grant funding. Need more help? Don’t worry, I have two more courses that help you create a competitive grant project and teach you how to develop a compelling grant story. Stay tuned!


Advocacy Alert

A black and white photograph depicting an empty museum gallery hall with a portrait in the far distance flanked by two windows and with a chair positioned in front of it.
Photograph by David Yu, accessed July 16, 2020, via Canva.com.

Library Stabilization Fund Act

The LSFA funds would help keep nearly 370,000 library workers on the job, defray costs related to safe re-opening, and support a range of library services to millions of patrons, including high-speed internet access and digital literacy training.

You can read more via the Society of American Archivists here.

Museum Pandemic Relief and FY2021 Funding

This request to two-pronged: 1. Approve another round of pandemic relief funding ($6-billion) to be distributed via the Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS) and expand existing pandemic programs such as PPP and increased charitable giving incentives; and 2. Increases FY 2021 funding to $382.7-million to IMLS, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

You can read more via the American Alliance of Museums here.

Resources to Get Started

Our collective strength relies of each of us advocating for our libraries, archives, and museums–and that advocacy work includes contacting your representatives. Need help getting started? No problem! Check out this post for how to contact your rep and what to say. And you can always snag my fill in the blank template here. Remember: Being in regular contact with our representatives about our funding needs is a necessary part of increasing our financial resilience.


What’s Next?

A colorful picture showing a hand holding a lightbulb against a sky backdrop with clouds showing white, orange, and purple coloration.
Photograph by fotographierende, accessed July 16, 2020, via Canva.com.

I’m nearing the completion of my grant course suite which leads me to: What’s Next? I’ve received requests to speak to resilient job searching tactics, tips for when to know it’s time to leave (the job or profession), and how to recruit and engage volunteers. What else would you like to see? What can I help support you on? Please comment or send me an email ([email protected]) and let me know.

And if you haven’t already, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter so that you’re first in line for any future offerings and free resource drops.

Thanks and be well!

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Action Alert: Preserve the Oregon Heritage Commission and Support Oregon Arts and Culture

Oregon colleagues, it’s time to write our representatives again.

Action

For those who are free to do so, I’m requesting that you join me in writing OPRD Director Lisa Sumption, Governor Brown, and your local Oregon legislators to fund the OPRD department and preserve the Oregon Heritage Commission. I’ve copied a version of my letter below–you are welcome to copy and adapt. I’ve sent this letter to the Oregonian, OPRD Director Lisa Sumption, Governor Brown, Senator Burdick, and Representative Doherty.

Contact Information

Director of OPRD, Lisa Sumption’s email: [email protected]
Gov. Brown: https://www.oregon.gov/gov/pages/share-your-opinion.aspx
Find your Oregon legislator: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/findyourlegislator/leg-districts.html

Letter to Director Lisa Sumption of Oregon Parks and Recreation Department

Dear Director Sumption,

I can only imagine how challenging this time is for you. I know you oversee the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), and I know it can’t be easy for you to make decisions that impact people’s lives. I’m writing this letter to advocate for the preservation of the Oregon Heritage Commission branch of OPRD. But, I know you can’t do it alone. So, I’ve also written Gov. Brown, Senator Burdick, and Representative Doherty. Additionally, I have submitted an Op-ed to the Oregonian. In each I have advocated for the financial support of the OPRD.

I’m Rachael Woody and I run a certified women-owned business in Oregon that provides services to Oregon’s 1400 art and culture organizations. On June 5, the OPRD reported in their Heritage Digest (Volume 207 Issue 1) a $22 million revenue gap, and has announced layoffs and the freezing of “other programs such as grants”.  It’s not a surprise that Oregon’s parks and recreation unit is financially suffering due to COVID-19, but it is disturbing that our elected officials have moved so slowly to stop a potentially catastrophic loss in Oregon employment, recreation services, and Oregon heritage preservation.

As you likely know, the Oregon arts and culture sector is an economic engine for Oregon. According to the Culture Advocacy Coalition (CAC) the sector annually brings in $343 million in tourism-related expenses, employs 13,939 Full Time Employees (FTE), and expends $364 million back into Oregon’s economy.  Just last year, Oregon legislators demonstrated their support of the sector by passing six major Oregon art and culture bills. The bills renewed the unique Oregon Cultural Trust (OCT) tax credit for another 6-years, and approved more than $5.1 million in restoration and expansion projects for performance and cultural centers across the state.

But, this economic engine is facing financial ruin. There are two Oregon-specific arts and culture impact studies available: 1. The COVID-19 Impact on Oregon Culture, by OCT; and 2. The COVID-19 Oregon | Arts & Culture Sector Impacts, by the CAC. Both surveys capture the bleak financial picture facing 1400 Oregon arts and culture organizations. From March to May organizations estimate their total revenue loss at $51 million. Of the CAC respondents, 70% report the COVID-19 crisis as having a “severe impact” on their ability to operate, and 83% have already initiated financial mitigation efforts such as layoffs and furloughs.  The OCT study confirms that many organizations have (at most) 2-3 months of financial reserves saved up. Oregon’s stay-at-home measures were implemented in mid-March and it’s now mid-June, many of those organizations have exhausted their reserves and have already laid off 1,385 of 13,939 FTE. Many of these organizations are facing the permanent closing of their doors and Oregonians are on the precipice of a catastrophic loss in Oregon arts and culture.

This is why what’s been done is not enough. At the federal-level, programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and $200-million in the initial CARES Act for emergency relief funding via federal granting agencies provide limited support to the Oregon arts and culture sector. Notably, this relief falls far short of the $4 billion-dollar request made by the arts and culture field and the American Alliance of Museums estimates “[A]s many as 30 percent of museums, mostly in small and rural communities, will not re-open without significant and immediate emergency financial assistance.”  On the local level, nine Oregon public and private funders have released $1.3 million in relief funds , and the OCT has submitted a $10 million Emergency Cultural Relief Fund proposal for legislative approval.

But, when facing a $50 million gap, the emergency financial programs available is simply not enough. First, there must be additional government relief funds allocated to Oregon arts and culture organizations. Second, we must rectify how we currently support heritage at the state-level. According to Heritage Digest, the OPRD budget is composed of lottery funds (44%), recreation fees (50%), and federal funds (6% directed to heritage grants).  Oregonians need to critically reexamine how we fund what we profess to value, and adjust our spending to reflect those values. The OPRD cannot sustainably run on funds that fluctuate with the economy. OPRD must receive more substantial and stable funding allocated by the government from tax revenue.

As the Director, you know the OPRD is a critical lynch pin to the Oregon arts and culture sector. The Oregon Heritage Commission (ran under OPRD) provides a substantial amount of services and administers several grant programs to 1400 organizations across the state—many in small, rural areas that are the most at risk for permanent closure. You can see then, how alarming it is to learn OPRD is forced to consider cuts in staff and has frozen the grant program. If the OPRD cuts staff positions in the heritage unit and continues the hold on grant programs, then it’s signaling its abandonment of 1400 Oregon arts and culture organizations. We are at a critical juncture. If we’re not successful in securing the protection and funding of Oregon heritage, then Oregon will irrevocably lose a significant number of our arts and culture organizations. And we, as Oregonians, will be the lesser for it.

Director Sumption, please demonstrate your support of Oregon’s art and culture, and preserve a fully functioning Oregon Heritage Commission. There are 1400 Oregon art and culture associations are depending on it.

Sample Letter to Elected Official

On June 5, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) reported in their Heritage Digest (Volume 207 Issue 1) a $22 million revenue gap, and has announced layoffs and the freezing of “other programs such as grants”. It’s not a surprise that Oregon’s parks and recreation unit is financially suffering due to COVID-19, but it is disturbing that our elected officials have moved so slowly to stop a potentially catastrophic loss in Oregon employment, recreation services, and Oregon heritage preservation.

The Oregon arts and culture sector is an economic engine for Oregon. According to the Culture Advocacy Coalition (CAC) the sector annually brings in $343 million in tourism-related expenses, employs 13,939 Full Time Employees (FTE), and expends $364 million back into Oregon’s economy. Just last year, Oregon legislators demonstrated their support of the sector by passing six major Oregon art and culture bills. The bills renewed the unique Oregon Cultural Trust (OCT) tax credit for another 6-years, and approved more than $5.1 million in restoration and expansion projects for performance and cultural centers across the state.

But, this economic engine is facing financial ruin. There are two Oregon-specific arts and culture impact studies available: 1. The COVID-19 Impact on Oregon Culture, by OCT; and 2. The COVID-19 Oregon | Arts & Culture Sector Impacts, by the CAC. Both surveys capture the bleak financial picture facing 1400 Oregon arts and culture organizations. From March to May organizations estimate their total revenue loss at $51 million. Of the CAC respondents, 70% report the COVID-19 crisis as having a “severe impact” on their ability to operate, and 83% have already initiated financial mitigation efforts such as layoffs and furloughs. The OCT study confirms that many organizations have (at most) 2-3 months of financial reserves saved up. Oregon’s stay-at-home measures were implemented in mid-March and it’s now mid-June, many of those organizations have exhausted their reserves and have already laid off 1,385 of 13,939 FTE. Many of these organizations are facing the permanent closing of their doors and Oregonians are on the precipice of a catastrophic loss in Oregon arts and culture.

This is why what’s been done is not enough. At the federal-level, programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program and $200-million in the initial CARES Act for emergency relief funding via federal granting agencies provide limited support to the Oregon arts and culture sector. Notably, this relief falls far short of the $4 billion-dollar request made by the arts and culture field and the American Alliance of Museums estimates “[A]s many as 30 percent of museums, mostly in small and rural communities, will not re-open without significant and immediate emergency financial assistance.” On the local level, nine Oregon public and private funders have released $1.3 million in relief funds , and the OCT has submitted a $10 million Emergency Cultural Relief Fund proposal for legislative approval.

But, when facing a $50 million gap, the emergency financial programs available is simply not enough. First, there must be additional government relief funds allocated to Oregon arts and culture organizations. Second, we must rectify how we currently support heritage at the state-level. According to Heritage Digest, the OPRD budget is composed of lottery funds (44%), recreation fees (50%), and federal funds (6% directed to heritage grants). Oregonians need to critically reexamine how we fund what we profess to value, and adjust our spending to reflect those values. The OPRD cannot sustainably run on funds that fluctuate with the economy. OPRD must receive more substantial and stable funding allocated by the government from tax revenue.

The OPRD is a critical lynch pin to the Oregon arts and culture sector. The Oregon Heritage Commission (ran under OPRD) provides a substantial amount of services and administers several grant programs to 1400 organizations across the state—many in small, rural areas that are the most at risk for permanent closure. You can see then, how alarming it is to hear OPRD is forced to consider cuts in staff and has frozen the grant program. If the OPRD cuts staff positions in the heritage unit and continues the hold on grant programs, then it’s signaling its abandonment of 1400 Oregon arts and culture organizations. We are at a critical juncture. If we’re not successful in securing for the protection and funding of Oregon heritage, then Oregon will irrevocably lose a significant number of our arts and culture organizations. And we, as Oregonians, will be the lesser for it.

[Insert Name], please demonstrate your support of Oregon’s art and culture, and please work with Oregon legislators to deploy relief funding to OPRD. A fully functioning Oregon Heritage Commission (under OPRD) and additional emergency relief funding is needed to support the 1400 Oregon art and culture associations struggling to survive.

Thank you,
Rachael Woody, Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC
Tigard, Oregon

Sources

1. Oregon Heritage Commission, Heritage Digest, Volume 207 Issue 1, sent by email on June 5, 2020.
2. Culture Advocacy Coalition, The COVID-19 Oregon | Arts & Culture Sector Impacts, accessed June 12, 2020, via https://www.oregonculture.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/FINAL_COVID-19-Oregon-Impacts-1.pdf.
3. Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Arts and Culture Sector Scores Big, published July 2019, accessed June 12, 2020, via https://culturaltrust.org/blog/news/oregons-arts-and-culture-sector-scores-big/.
4. Oregon Cultural Trust, COVID-19 Impact on Oregon Culture, accessed June 12, 2020, via https://culturaltrust.org/wp-content/uploads/ECRF_SurveyFindings_DataViz_Layout.pdf.
5. American Alliance of Museums, Museums Included in Economic Relief Legislation, accessed June 12, 2020, via https://t.congressweb.com/w/?GRPQLGOFCH.
6. Oregon Cultural Trust, Cultural Organizations Cite Devastating COVID-19 Losses in Statewide Cultural Trust Impact Survey, accessed June 12, 2020, via https://culturaltrust.org/blog/news/cultural-organizations-cite-devastating-covid-19-losses-in-statewide-cultural-trust-impact-survey/.

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Strategies for How to Capture and Communicate the Value of Collection Work

Thank you to everyone who registered and attended this webinar! If you missed it or are here to view it again, you can find the recording below as well as a link to the slide deck, a list of links referenced, and a recap of the Q&A.

Abstract

Archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations across the world are struggling with the impact of COVID-19.  As public spaces remain closed, archives and museums are challenged with fulfilling their mission while seeking economic relief. Many archives and museum professionals are facing precarious employment as they struggle to prove the value of their work. This webinar is a follow up to the Society of American Archivists’ “Deriving Value from Collections in the Time of Corona (COVID-19)” (view: https://youtu.be/vhK2ww1_ZR8).  Please join me for a deeper dive into strategies for how to capture and communicate the value of collection work. The webinar will offer a framework to define the value of your work, discuss mechanisms for capturing value, and offer strategies for communicating the value of your work to your boss, your board, your fellow staff, and your community stakeholders.

Don’t Miss Another Webinar or Workshop

If this webinar is helpful to you, I invite you to sign up for my newsletter so that you’re first in line for any future offerings and free resource drops.

Slide Deck

To get a copy of the slide deck please download the PDF via Google Drive.

Links Referenced in the Webinar

American Alliance of Museums’ TrendsWatch 2020
American Alliance of Museums Advocacy Resources
Resources for Museums on How to Identify and Articulate Value
Resources on How to Convey the Value of Archives
Society of American Archivists Resources and Toolkits
Regional Example from Oregon Heritage Commission Toolkit
Free e-copy of A Survivor’s Guide to Museum Grant Writing

Q&A Section

This section includes a summary of the questions and answers reviewed during the webinar. Please view or listen to the webinar for a fuller account of the answers.

Q. Rachael, have you had experience in situations where self advocacy is seen by higher-ups as being a “squeaky wheel” rather than a voice which deserves attention? 

A. There is always a chance that someone will perceive you as the “squeaky wheel”. If we’re doing our job, if we’re communicating the value of our work and our collection regularly, then by the time we make an ask we will have demonstrated our value. However, I also acknowledge that we’re in a position right now where a lot of us do need to ask for financial resources and it’s a difficult position to be in if you’ve not had a chance to implement strategies for capturing and communicating the value of your collection and your work. I do encourage you to try it though, even if you need to make an ask. Be clear on the value of your work and be ready with the evidence as to why collections work is so critical. If you’re showing your value as you make the request then at the very least it will be recognized as legitimate.

Q. I’m curious about strategies for initiating conversations about budgeting and revenue streams when this information isn’t readily offered to mid-level staff.

A. For some organizations, the financial records are publically available usually in the form of an annual report. If that’s not the case then I encourage you to ask questions. If your boss isn’t available or open to sharing that information, I recommend you go straight to the source–your accounting or financial department. The reason you are asking is because you want to use the information to inform your work and bring in even more revenue into the organization. Any reasonable person will want to help you achieve that outcome and will provide you the information you need.

Comment: Great points about demonstrating how archives/collection work supports institutional income and mission. I found that it also helps to track the amount of staff time and other resources spent on specific engagement events.

A. Yes! I’m so glad you raised this as it can help with your ask. If you’re tracking staff time and other costs for your work and you can tie that work (and costs) to the revenue generating event, then you’re able to backup your request with detailed numbers on how much it costs you to do your work and can demonstrate how that work is of value to the institution. I definitely recommend tracking these types of costs to “do business” as they will help you understand the finances required to operate and provide value at current levels.

Q. Would you have any comments on how to connect the development/origins of an archives or a collection with current work and initiatives? It seems there are good opportunities to demonstrate value through time (with a longer timeline) though it might be a challenge to keep focus and could lost stakeholder interest.

A. I think this could be a great opportunity for you to show value of the collection over time. You could approach it like a retrospective, using the organization’s mission (or similar) to tie the archives’ beginning to and then review the collections acquired, projects, and other milestones (where the collection has provided value) along the way. Seeing the value delivered over time could be very impactful and is a great reminder to the organization that the archives is the department that secures the organization’s legacy.

A Note About the Presenter

Rachael Cristine Woody of Rachael Cristine Consulting smiles at the camera as she poses in front of her laptop displaying Deriving Value from Collections in the Time of Corona (COVID-19) webinar.
Rachael Cristine Woody of Rachael Cristine Consulting

Rachael Woody is the owner of Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC. After a successful tenure at the Smithsonian Institution and the Oregon Wine History Archive, Woody established her consultancy to teach archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations how to take care of their collections and advocate for their value. Woody has experienced precariously funded positions first-hand and has proven tactical strategies to demonstrate the value of collection work. As a result of her experience, Woody has dedicated herself to advocating for the value of collection work. She serves on SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness, established the Archivist-in-Residence (paid internship) program at Northwest Archivists, and serves on several salary advocacy committees.