Written by Becky McKinney, 2014 Trella Romine Scholarship Recipient
I was granted the opportunity to attend the Alliance’s 2014 Annual Meeting and Conference as the Trella Romine Scholarship recipient. It was a wonderful experience. The conference, entitled “Engage, Educate, Empower: Taking Your Organization to the Next Level,” met the goals of its title and more.
There were several concurrent sessions that posed a difficult decision making situation. I would have enjoyed the Society of Ohio Archivists session “Simple Custom Enclosures for Cultural Heritage Collections” with Miriam Nelson, but being a double session it conflicted with another session I felt was more pertinent to me at my museum. I’m sorry to say I missed it.
The sessions I attended posed some challenges and encouragements, particularly in the fundraising/grant writing sessions which asked the questions: Do you feel your organization worthy? Are you a donor? How are you invested in your organization? What do you need to get your job done? We all would like the donor that grants our every wish, but money often isn’t the only answer, rather empowering people and removing barriers to success. It is best to look at your budget as a strategic plan in dollar form. You must build a sustainable program if you are requesting allocations from funders or donors.
Regarding collections, comments included “Collections are the most important part of a museum” and “How we preserve items is how we are perceived.” These statements encourage and challenge because we can always improve the organization and preservation of items in our collections while increasing knowledge on the handling of collections. (It is encouraging when someone has donated to collections because of how they saw you handle items.) Yet, to accomplish the high expectations of archival practices, we need more hours and/or volunteers to achieve success.
I met up with friends from college days, networked with other professionals, discussed potential joint county projects, heard great ideas about cultivating both volunteers and donors and received sound advice on devising manuals, policies and statements. I am thankful to have heard the message “Be your best self: Be engaging. Educate. Empower.” I look forward to instilling more of these qualities in myself and others as we lead our community.
Becky McKinney is Assistant Director of the Marion County Historical Society in Marion, Ohio.