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CoSA Recognizes CT SHRAB with National Award

By CoSA News posted 06-08-2021 12:00 AM


Women opening an archival record together.The Connecticut State Historical Records Advisory Board (CT SHRAB) is the 2021 recipient of the Council of State Archivists- National Historical Publications and Records Commission’s State Historical Advisory Board Award of Merit. The CT SHRAB was chosen to receive this award for overall excellence, as well as for two innovative programs it introduced in Connecticut that have transformed how archival collections and staff are supported and have helped increase access to archives. Coordinating SHRAB activities is Lizette Pelletier, State Archivist.

These two programs, the Traveling Archivist Implementation Grant and the Online Digitization Workshop Series, were designed before COVID‐19, but were quickly adapted to meet the challenges of the pandemic. The CT SHRAB funded their programming, including these new projects with three State & National Archival Partnership Grants and two State Board Programming Grants from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) in partnership with Conservation ConneCTion (CC). The CT SHRAB was ready to apply its knowledge of providing successful training opportunities to strengthen archives and historical records programs in Connecticut.

The Traveling Archivist Implementation Grant, a pilot regrant program offered by CT SHRAB and CC, was designed to support institutions who lacked the financial means and professional staff to implement recommendations from the archival assessments provided by the Traveling Archivist Program, funded through three prior NHPRC grants. This regrant program was a first in Connecticut, providing direct support for institutions with archives to create processing manuals, finding aids, digitization plans, and projects, and to support new archival storage. Eighteen grants were successfully completed, demonstrating that Connecticut’s cultural heritage organizations are now capable of determining and managing archival projects and selecting archival professionals that are best suited to the work thanks to the great training provided by CT SHRAB. The finding aids and digitized materials were made accessible through Connecticut Archives Online, the Connecticut Digital Archives and/or the institutions website.

In addition to the regrant program, CT SHRAB offered a new learning experience for staff responsible for archives. A 5‐part digitization workshop series was produced with CC, and offered via Zoom, due to COVID‐19. A Google Classroom was created for instructors and students to upload materials, share resources, interact with one another outside the webinars, post recorded classes, and share evaluations. While Zoom webinars have been offered since the COVID‐19 shutdown by cultural heritage organizations, no one in Connecticut offered an online class of this kind before COVID or once the pandemic started. While it required participants to use Zoom and learn Google Classroom and associated tools on Google Drive, CT SHRAB did an excellent job providing instruction and technical support. The shared learning experience created by using Google Classroom mimicked a live workshop. Another exciting angle of the workshop series was the real‐time, hands‐on, remote learning on all stages of digitization. Participants scanned their own materials, along with the instructor, in order to be able to learn and ask questions during the process. They also worked together live in a shared Google Sheet to edit their metadata content from the scanning session. The final class in the series featured a panel of educators and curators who demonstrated how heavily they were relying on high resolution scans of archival materials in order to create dynamic outreach for audiences during the shutdown.

According to CoSA Immediate Past-President and chair of the CoSA Awards Committee, recently retired Montana State Archivist Jodie Foley, “ The CT SHRAB continues to demonstrate that it is responsive to the needs of institutions with archival collections in Connecticut, while providing new, high quality programs and opportunities that help increase access to archives in the state, are significant to the field and advance our work, while also making archival management and preservation priorities in all educational outreach.” CoSA is pleased to acknowledge the leadership and innovation of the CT SHRAB.