Toolkit: Designing a Program
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This page is intended to serve as a resource for anyone interested in creating their own diversity in archives fellowship program. For more information about Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers’ Fellowship, Mentoring, Training, and Placement Institute check out the other sections on this page.
The first step in creating your own diversity in archives program is to define the scope of the project and the target audience. The scope of the project is a useful tool in terms of determining how long the program should be, how many people need to be involved, and is a crucial aspect in terms of determining how much funding is required for your program. Often the scope of the project will be shaped by potential funders, who have a vested interest in the outcome of your program. During initial conversations between The HistoryMakers and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) regarding Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers Fellowship, Mentoring and Training Institute, IMLS encouraged The HistoryMakers to increase the total number of fellows admitted to the program over the course of three years two twelve.
Building on step one, it is crucial in the early stages of program development to identify the goals of your increasing diversity in archives program. Good programs may have anywhere from one to ten goals, but each goal should be specific enough so as to be useful in developing a manageable and effective program, but also broad enough as to make a meaningful impact on the archival field.
The goals for Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers’ Fellowship, Mentoring and Training Institute are:
Increase the number of highly-skilled African American archivists and archivists working in African American archives by providing:
a. Hands-on archival training by professional archivists.
b. On-the-job training at major African American archival collections.
c. Instruction by respected African American scholars and subject experts.
d. Paid salaries combined with the support of a mentor and professional network.
e. Potential job placement
Increase the accessibility of African American historical materials by having the Fellows process more collections and create finding aids using EAD and EAC-CPF descriptive standards. They will also create MARC records for deposit in local, regional and international library catalogs.
Increase the visibility of the archival profession and African American historical collections through public and community outreach programs.
Create a network of professionals with more in-depth knowledge of the nation’s African American collections.
Enable the partnering institutions to effectively recruit and train African American archivists and archivists interested in working with African American collections.
The 3-month training program will consist of the following:
Perhaps the most important step in program development is to identify and solicit funding for your project. Depending on your source of funding, funders can play an integral or hands-off role in shaping the scope, development, and outcomes of your program. The Institute for Museum and Library Studies (IMLS) maintains a list of available grants that may be a useful resource in identifying potential funding sources related to your program to increase diversity in archives (http://www.imls.gov/applicants/available_grants.aspx)
The next step in the program development process is to convene an advisory board, or group of area specialists, who bring to the table their experience and expertise in the field. In the fall of 2009, The HistoryMakers sent letters to fourteen archival and African American history experts to invite them to participate in what is now the IMLS Advisory Board. As advisory board members, these individuals:
1) Serve on the project advisory board guiding both the planning and implementation of the project;
2) Recommend African American archival collections that are in need of processing and exposure;
3) Help to develop the selection criteria for the fellows;
4) Serve to develop an effective training program for the fellows and mentors;
5) Help set goals and outcomes for the project and its participants.
Once you have established the program goals, the scope of the project, and secured funding for your program, it is time to start fleshing out the details for your program. One of the first questions to ask yourself, is what is the program structure? Through conversations with advisors and IMLS, The HistoryMakers determined that Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers’ Fellowship, Mentoring, Training and Placement Institute would be comprised of 3-month summer training institute at The HistoryMakers archives in Chicago, followed by a 9-month residency at one of several partnering host institutions.
Whether your program includes a residency program or just site visits, it is useful to identify and reach out to partnering archival institutions and museums to assist with the development and implementation of your program. Most archives do not have the resources and personnel necessary to provide a complete training experience for young archivists starting out in the field. Even the most advanced archivist can benefit from exposure to different types of archival collections, processes, and organizational structure.
During the summer training institute, HistoryMaker archival fellows participate in behind the scenes tours of several Chicago-area African American archives. During the 9-month residency, fellows work as integral members of their host repository, where they acquire valuable knowledge about the host repositories collections, processing procedures, and institutional culture that are useful when the fellows enter the job market. Often, fellows build relationships with other repositories and museums in the area around their host institution.
Often an overlooked detail in creating any fellowship and/or scholarship program is the selection process. The first and most important step in crafting your selection process is determining your selection criteria. Usually, it is a good idea to state your selection criteria when writing any grants related to funding for the program. Candidates for Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers’ Fellowship, Mentoring, Training and Placement Institute are selected based on the following criteria:
Criteria: Preference will be given to those candidates with a MLIS degree. Exceptions can be made for 1 or 2 candidates. African American and minority candidates will also be weighted higher than other candidates due to the diversity efforts of this grant. Additionally, candidates will be graded on their desire to work long term in black archives, their formal archival education, prior experience working in archives, knowledge of EAD and EAC-CPF, knowledge of library of congress (LOC) subject headings, writing skills, knowledge of African American history, institutional fit, their grades, their writing skills, their communication skills, and the strength of their recommendations.
The next step in developing a selection process is crafting a timeline. (Sometimes this may be determined by your funding organization, but often there is some flexibility on the part of the institution coordinating the program). Applications for Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers’ Fellowship, Mentoring, Training and Placement Institute are due on February 14th, after which The HistoryMakers and the host institutions go through a series of selection rounds, before candidates are notified in early April.
Now, you are ready to start recruiting. Depending on the specificity of your program and selection criteria, most archival fellowship programs of this nature will require some significant recruitment efforts in order to develop the applicant pool you desire. In addition to email blasts to archival listservs and Museum and Library Studies’ programs, The HistoryMakers continuously makes efforts in their recruitment for Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers’ Fellowship, Mentoring, Training and Placement Institute to solicit recommendations from archival instructors and archival professionals with special connections to African American archives in order to identify and recruit the best candidates for the program.
Once you have finished selecting your candidates, the difficult task of developing your program is at hand. Crafting a fellowship program can be a daunting task, but it is made easier when you can solicit the help of a knowledgeable advisory board, partnering institutions, and practicing professionals who can offer advice regarding the most effective activities, trainings, and lectures to include in your fellowship program. Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers’ Fellowship, Mentoring, Training and Placement Institute is structured so that fellows participate in an intensive 3-month summer training program, followed by a 9-month residency at one of the Institute’s partnering host institutions. Fellows’ weeks’ during the summer training program are structured around both archival instruction, field trips to different African American archives in the Chicago-area, and hands-on work with The HistoryMakers’ African American video oral history collection. Download a complete schedule of the summer training institute.
One of the last, but vital steps, in developing your diversity in archives program is evaluation. Evaluation should be conducted throughout your institute and not just at the end of the program. During the Increasing African American Diversity in Archives: The HistoryMakers’ Fellowship, Mentoring, Training and Placement Institute summer immersion, The HistoryMakers conducts weekly surveys of the fellows, which help to track both the fellows’ individual progress, as well as the effectiveness of each lecture, field trip, and assignment. In addition to the weekly assessments, fellows complete quarterly reports that help to assess their development during each stage of the program. Whatever the time schedule for your evaluations, they should include both quantitative and qualitative questions, such as, “please rate your knowledge of arrangement and description on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest,” and “please offer any advice on how The HistoryMakers can make it easier for future IMLS fellows to prepare for the summer training program.”