Call All Contributions: 9th Annual Auction for SGA Scholarship Funds

Where: The Fabulous DeSoto Hilton in Historic Downtown Savannah, Georgia
When: Thursday, November 5, 2009
Time: 6:25-7:20 pm, somewhere after/during food and drink acquisition, and somewhen before dispersal for general merriment…

From the desk of our honorable auctioneer, the illustrious Gilbert Head…

Once again, Ladies and Gentlemen, we near the autumn of the year, and with the falling leaves we also plan to harvest the bounty of the 9th annual auction for SGA scholarships. Yet again, I represent the Scholarship Committee for the Society of Georgia Archivists , and by virtue of this auction having originally been my idea, find myself yet again in the position of serving for spokesman for this, the eighth edition of the SGA Scholarship Auction. As in years gone by, 100% of the proceeds of this auction will go towards the myriad scholarships and awards administered by the SGA, including our more recently created SGA-sponsored workshop scholarships. These newer funding opportunities will help underwrite the workshop costs of scholarship recipients, as we continue to broaden out efforts to support continuing education in our community. As in years past, we once more submit a few examples of the sorts of treasures one might be expected to bid upon or perhaps donate in this worthy enterprise. Some of these items will look familiar, and yet others will be new, in out never-ending quest to broaden the scope of delights from the overburdened chiffarobe of culture’s bounty. Monkeys will be abounding, and we expect a return of the paired Disco Chalices which seem to crop up in each new offering.

It should be remembered that these sample items are intended to suggest possibilities for donation, and to whet the appetite of potential bidders bu not necessarily limit the scope of those things to be placed upon the block…

A U.S. Solver Dollar (“Morgan” Type): 1880: Philadelphia Mint

A silver penny from the reign of Edward I of England (called Longshanks);1272-1307

A “Widow’s Mite”; Bronze Prutah, Reign of Alexander Jannaeus, 103-76 BC.
This coin represents one of the probable coins referred to in the Biblical parable of the Widow’s Mite (Mark 12:41-44), as it was the smallest coin in circulation in the Holy Land at the Time of Christ.

A Denarius of Severus Alexander (222-225 AD).
This silver coin was the basic unit of exchange in Imperial Rome.

Pubbii Ovidii Nasonis Operum, Tomus III.
Amsterdam, 1701, 4 3/4″ x 2 1/2″. Full vellum binding.

1961 Proof Set, Philadelphia Mint.
Again, supplied in original U.S. Mint packaging.

…and plenty more old coins….

These items are not meant to define the parameters of what we will accept as an auction item, but rather to give some idea of the scope of what we hope to be offering. We will not be accepting firearms or alcoholic consumables for this auction, but will be grateful for whatever else you wish to donate.

Items can either be brought in person to the SGA Annual Meeting in November, or sent to the following address:

Gilbert Head
University Archives
Hagrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-1641

Questions about the auction can be addressed to the same place, or to Gilbert head at

If you are bringing the item to Athens, please plan to drop it off at the auction table during registration. This table will also provide a place to make a “silent bid” for those unable or uninterested to participate in the live auction.

If you are planning to contribute something, please prepare a 3″ x 5″ card for each item with your name, a brief description and any details which you think might enhance sale of the item, whether you wish to target the proceeds to a specific fund (the Carroll Hart Scholarship, to attend the Georgia Archives Institute; the Larry Gulley Scholarship, to attend the SGA Annual Meeting; the Edward Weldon Scholarship, to atten the SAA Annual meeting; the Brenda S. Banks Educational Workshop Scholarship, to attend the SGA Spring Workshop; the Anthony R. Dees Educational Workshop Scholarship, to attend the SGA Fall Workshop; or the David B. Gracy Award [adminstered by the Editorial Board of Provenance), and whether or not you wish to have an assigned minimum bid (though we ask that you limit this last request, as the object of the auction is to raise money for these various worthy funds).

And even those who do not donate can participate! Bring us your money (we’ll be set up to take cash or checks, but not credit cards), and your finely honed bidding skills, and prepare to have a splendid time as we help our scholarship funds grow. Jim Dandy, the Official Sock Monkey of the SGA Auction, asks you to give, and give generously; excavate your spare tremisses and merks, and come to Savannah ready to have yet another splendid time wearing down the auctioneer, and fired up to bid on treasures galore…it’ll be something to tell the future gnerations, or at the very least, we’ll have a little fun, and raise a few dollars along the way. See y’all there/then.

SGA Archives: Call for Photos

On the eve of SGA’s 40th Anniversary, the SGA Archives is looking for photographs of past events and people to add to our archives. If you have photographs you would be willing to donate, please contact me at the information below. Digital images, either born-digital or scanned from photographs, are welcome. Thanks in advance!

Suzanne K. Durham, CA
Head of Special Collections
Ingram Library
University of West Georgia
1601 Maple Street
Carrollton, GA 30118


Update: Early Bird Registration Extended to October 16

The Society of Georgia Archivists Annual Meeting deadline has been extended to October 16. Online and mail in registrations will be accepted at the low, member advance rate of $95.

Rooms are still available at the conference rate of $139 at the DeSoto Hilton in Savannah. To get the most accurate information on room reservations, contact the hotel directly at 912-232-9000.

Register today!

5 Questions for…Geof Huth

The third interviewee in our short series of interviews with upcoming speakers, Geof Huth has provided us with enthusiastic answers to five very modest questions. In addition to being Director of Government Records Services at the New York State Archives, Mr. Huth is also an artist and micropublisher. You can find out more about him by checking out the finding aid to the Geof Huth Papers, which are held at the M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University at Albany Libraries, SUNY.

How did you become an archivist?

At some point early in adulthood, I had a couple of degrees in English clutched in my fist and no interest in making the next step and earning a PhD in the field. I found myself in need of a career, so I faced a decision that thousands of people have had to make over the course of human history: Do I become an archivist or a lexicographer? My interest in lexicography, which continues to this day, grew out of my interest in language and the magical way in which discrete sets sounds or markings could carry so much meaning. My interest in archives grew out of my early work as a genealogist, where the only valuable research—I soon came to discover—came from using actual records. Of course, both fields have an abiding focus on detail and thoroughness, which helped make my decision more difficult.

But my life experiences made my ultimate decision simple. One day in a small town in rural France, I stumbled across a critical church book, a book I didn’t know existed in a town I had not planned to visit, and that changed me. The process of finding the book was happenstance. My father and I had stopped at a church to ask directions to the next town, and the priest there suggested we look through his books. The book itself was tossed in a cabinet filled with books and papers askew, and the ink was flaking off its pages, leading me to wonder how much longer the volume would last.

I became an archivist because I decided that this field held more opportunity than lexicography did, and that proved to be a correct conclusion. But I really became an archivist because I decided that people needed something better than happenstance to find a record, because I realized that records needed to be cared for if we wanted them to last and be used into the future, and because archives is a humanistic enterprise: We keep records not for the records themselves, but for the people who need them. Although central to our imagination, records are almost ancillary to our mission because those records have value only to the degree that people need them, to the extent that the records serve humanity, in big and small ways. So I am an archivist because I’m passionate about the interplay between the record as a continuing embodiment of humanness and the humans whose lives and work and passions can be supported by those records.

What’s changed the most since you became an archivist?

I am just old enough so that my training for my MLS included only cursory coverage of electronic records. In 1988, there were still a few people at school who did not have computers of their own, and people were a little unsure about what this electronic world was going to be and how it was going to affect our lives. So although there have been many changes to the profession since I became an archivist—a greater reliance on standards, a healthy broadening of the archival profession, and clear progress towards greater professionalism—the biggest change is that huge and often sleeping giant in our midst: electronic records and our crying need to manage them well. The question of “forever,” the question of permanence haunts us deeply with electronic records, and we still feel incapable of dealing with electronic records.

And that self-doubt shows. Most of us struggle to deal with electronic records. A few hope to avoid them altogether. Many probably believe that electronic records do not have the allure, the ineffable attraction of paper records or, better yet, records on parchment—yet these all are merely signs of human activity, each filled with the same blood and life that any other record of the same type holds. If anything will define our era of archives, if anything has the greatest potential to leave our tender throats exposed to the sharp blade of criticism, it is how we address this huge necessary change in our work. This is our greatest challenge, and one that we have to be up to. We cannot lose this battle. The signs everywhere demonstrate that we are experiencing a digital sea change at this very moment. Digital photography far outstrips traditional photography. A current blockbuster best-seller is selling better on as an e-book than in paper. And most of the recorded information in the world is born digital and often dies without ever touching paper. If we don’t teach ourselves how to manage electronic records, we will be incapable of fulfilling our broad mission to document human activity. The recorded world, the world of unique and fleeting records, the world that we are responsible for preserving, will disappear.

What’s stayed the same (for better or worse)?

Even in the face of enormous change over the last twenty years, I’m sure that much has remained unchanged, but what I think about most in this regard is us. As archivists, we are sometimes too cautious for our own good. Why? Because we know that we are each an essential link in a profound chain of responsibility, and because we know that our mistakes could very well have negative consequences that will last forever. Any record lost or destroyed on our watch is likely a record that will never be seen again, so caution is our byword. But caution can take us only so far. At some point we need to be fearless, we need to take calculated risks, we need to accept (for instance) that we might fail if we try to preserve electronic records. Yet if we do nothing, we know we will fail, and we cannot guarantee failure. What we, as archivists, have to learn, even if it goes against our general nature sometimes, is how to take risks and how to advocate for necessary change in our organizations.

How did you become interested in electronic records?

As computers arrived in our lives, I became interested in them for what they could do for us, for how they could change our lives, so I experimented early with computers to figure out how they might support a different kind of writing, provide greater control over page design, and allow for the creation of kinetic poems for the screen. And this last interest made me someone interested in the knotty problems of digital preservation back in 1986. Starting back then, before I was an archivist or thinking of becoming one, I developed a plan for preserving the first significant collection of early digital poems, the Canadian poet bpNichol’s “First Screening.” To ensure the preservation of these poems, I preserved, as well as I could, the original 5.25-inch diskette that held them and a backup copy I had made, I printed out the computer code, and I created a videotape of the poems playing on a screen. What I failed to do was save the code electronically, but I saved enough for a dedicated group of people to reproduce the original experience of watching these poems move on screen. I was the only archivist in this endeavor. My interest in electronic records, you see, grew out of a personal interest in preserving digital experiences of what it is to be human. What I didn’t want to lose was that sense of what we were as humans at any point in the digital past. For some people, the digital world is somehow inhuman and soulless, but I do not see it in that way. The digital is what makes us unique as animals. The digital is simply another way in which we express ourselves. I like to tell people that digital records are those records that best represent us because they, like us, require electrical impulses to be.

What advice do you have for new archivists or those interested in the profession?

My first bit of advice to new archivists is “Don’t limit yourself.” When I was in library school, my goal was to work eventually in literary manuscripts. And I have seen a literary manuscript or two in my career, but those opportunities to work in that particular field never materialized. Instead, work in government records did, and work with a broader records management focus but centered in an archival framework. What I have found is that this work is exciting, various, challenging, and that it has allowed me to work with hundreds, if not thousands, of people over my career. The flexibility I had, borne originally merely out of a desire to pay my bills, proved more than worth it in the end. My other bit of advice is to take pride in what we do as archivists, and by that I don’t mean that we should take pride in how we care for records (though we must do that as well). I mean that we must realize, accept, and prize that we are service workers, that we serve, every day, human beings. There is no higher calling.

Please be sure to join us in Savannah for the 40th Annual Celebration and Conference, and to attend Geof Huth’s session on the Future of Electronic Records!