Museums Chat: Awards, Pt. 2 (Shina duVall, Amy Stefini), June 19, 2019
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Museums Chat: Awards, Pt. 2 (Shina duVall, Amy Stefini), June 19, 2019

September 10, 2019


SHINA DUVALL: To talk
about the AASLH Leadership in History award nomination
process and my experience having completed a
nomination successfully and also now kind of
serving as the state representative for Alaska
for the awards committee. So I can talk a little bit about
what I’ve learned personally through having completed
a nomination that ended up successfully
receiving an award from AASLH. And then also kind
of what I’ve learned since I agreed to serve as
the Alaska representative for AASLH awards committee. So I’m the grants manager
at the Anchorage Museum, but know many of you
from other capacities from when I worked for the state
Historic Preservation Office. So I’ve been able to
kind of see the projects around the state that
might be considered for awards like this. And definitely I
think Bethany gave an outstanding
introduction to the reasons why we should be looking at
these local and national awards as well as an understanding
of the kind of benefits that we get from nominating
and receiving awards as professionals and
for our institutions. The recognition is
really, really important. So I do have control, you said. OK, so I’ll talk a little bit
about the AASLH Leadership in History Awards
and my experience completing the nomination. And I also have on
my other screen here, so forgive me for
bouncing back and forth, a little bit of material that
I received from AASLH when I signed on as a state
representative that talks a little bit about their
goals for their organization to encouraging people
to submit nominations. So they have essentially
two award types. An award of distinction
and an award of excellence. And the award of
distinction is due earlier. It’s due January
31 of each year. And the award of
excellence is due March 1. So you’ll probably hear from
AASLH as an organization, and maybe perhaps from
your regional and state representative at the
beginning of the year, late December or early
January, encouraging colleagues and professionals in
the field to consider either one of these awards. The Awards Committee may then,
upon review of nominations, choose kind of an additional
layer of recognition. And these are explained
on their website, so I would definitely
encourage you to get onto AASLH’s
award section on their website to
take a look at this. Two primary types of awards
and then the additional layer of recognition. The additional
layer of recognition is not something that
you need to complete additional nomination
material for. It is just something
that the awards committee can elect to add once they’ve
reviewed a nomination package. So it’s not additional
work, but it’s a nice additional
recognition should your project qualify in the
eyes of the awards committee. So the goal of the National
Leadership Award team at AASLH is to identify and recognize
excellence in the collection, preservation and interpretation
of state and local history through the leadership
and history awards. So that’s their main
goal that they identify. And you should know that there
are 14 regional representatives across the 50 states. And hopefully each state
has a representative that can help guide
interested individuals and professionals that
are completing nominations for their awards. We as state representatives
just essentially serve as a liaison between
the national organization, the regional representatives,
and our state colleagues who are interested in
completing nominations. We can be available to answer
questions about the nomination process or refer you
to appropriate contacts at the national– regional
or national level. So I wanted to keep this
presentation pretty simple, because I think that we
do tend to get scared away from nominating projects
for awards, because we feel like the process is onerous
or that it’s too complicated or that we don’t
have enough time. And indeed, my experience
was much of what Bethany stated in her presentation. A lot of the documentation that
is requested for these award nomination packages already
exist in our records, either through grant-related
documentation or just project administrative record
type materials. And so I think a lot
of it is already there. That was my experience. And also, I do
think that Bethany was correct in stating that
the awards committees do want concise, succinct
materials for these nominations. And so my focus in completing
the nomination that I did was to keep it simple, both
for my personal benefit and to keep my commitment
to the nomination process kind of minimal. But also for the benefit
of the awards committee. And I think that keeping things
concise and succinct and tight. You know, a tight package
is really actually what they’re looking for. The operating plan
goals for AASLH are to have around 125
nominations per year, and at least one
nomination from each state. As Bethany mentioned in
her presentation, Alaska– professionals have not done
a whole lot of nominations in the past several years. I think the nomination that I
completed and submitted in 2018 was the first that they
had had in some time, but I could be wrong. So we definitely want to
encourage our Alaska colleagues and peers to consider
looking across the different organizations that make
awards and to go ahead and go for it, like Bethany said. Hi, Amy, I’m going to
talk about the project that I nominated
in just one minute. Thank you for your question. So in terms of
steps, we want to– the AASLH National
Organization strongly recommends that you
contact your state or regional representative. They may or may not be
able to help too much, but at least they can answer
questions about the process. Depending on their familiarity
with the project that you’re nominating, they actually
may be able to help a lot more in terms of
conducting draft reviews and providing editorial
comments and that sort of thing. So definitely contact us. Read the awards manual. It’s not too complex
to get through. And it really does provide
a lot of information about their process, their
review process, and timing and what their expectations are. There’s also a webinar
that’s offered every year and is also available as a
prerecorded session on AASLH’s website about the
process, and I’ll provide that information in a minute. All of their
nomination materials are expected to be
submitted online. That’s my personal preference. I appreciate that I didn’t
have to prepare a hard copy packet of materials. I could just submit everything
online in PDF format. So that was pretty cool. The review. As I mentioned the award
of distinction deadline is January 31, and the
other award that they have, the award of excellence,
is due March 31. And then their review process
occurs from March to May. And then the award is announced
and publicly recognized at their annual
meeting in August. August, September time frame. So I found the components
pretty manageable of the AASLH Leadership in
History award nomination. A narrative, which is made
up of a few different parts, but ultimately only adds
up to about 1,000 words, which I think for most
of us is really not that complicated or onerous. Two letters of critical review,
which Bethany definitely addressed. And I think her description of
the letters of critical review and what the intent
is was perfect. And that’s exactly what
I gathered from AASLH. A one-page budget,
which Bethany also said. And resumes of key personnel. And then I can’t
emphasize enough, or re-emphasize Bethany’s
point about providing additional documentation. In particular, photographs
of your project. And I think that actually is
what supported our nomination. Let’s see if there’s
anything else I want to add from the
AASLH presentation. OK. So moving on. So be in touch with us. Attend that free
informational webinar. It’s called, What are the
Leadership in History awards. And it’s available,
as I mentioned, online on AASLH’s website. And then I think they do
a live one every year. Be concise. In particular for
the AASLH award, they want you to show how
the project demonstrates good history. And so I focused on that. In fact, I used that
terminology in my nomination. And I think that’s important
to make that connection. That’s what they’re
really looking for. And there are a bunch of
FAQs and tips and resources available on their website. So the project that
I nominated in 2018 is the Anchorage Museum
photo identification project. Each year, the Atwood
Resource Center librarians and archivists attend
the Alaska Federation of Natives convention in
Anchorage or in Fairbanks. And we bring a stack of
photographs from our archives for which we have very little
identifying information. And we ask attendants,
delegates and the public that are coming to AFN to
just peruse the photo racks, and provide information if they
recognize elements of the built environment. If they recognize
landscape features. If they recognize people or
places to literally write on the photograph in pencil
what they recognize. The names of people,
names of places. It’s a very simple
yet powerful project to allow us to build our– the context for the
archive in our collection. And it also is very
meaningful community connection-type project. And I just felt like it
was an outstanding example of good history as
AASLH describes. And so that’s the project that
I nominated for the award– I always mess up– the
award of excellence. What’s it called? Yeah, award of excellence. And I submitted my
nomination under, I think, a special project subheader. So following the committee’s
review of the nomination package, this
project was actually awarded the
additional distinction under history and progress
award, which was really an honor for us to receive. And as I mentioned– so here’s some photographs that
I included in the nomination package. Essentially the project is–
we set up a booth at AFN, and bring folders that
are organized regionally around the state. And we have a little army
of volunteers and staff that invite people to just come
and look through photographs. And it’s an
incredible experience to watch people when they do
recognize a person or a place. I’ve personally
witnessed– and I haven’t been at Anchorage
museum very long– but I’ve personally
witnessed people recognize their grandparents
or their siblings or the house that
they grew up in. It’s very, very meaningful
and it’s a really fun project to participate in,
albeit very simple. It’s a very simple approach. And I think these are
the types of projects– even simple projects
are ones that AASLH or other national organizations
might be very, very interested in. As Bethany mentioned as a
model for other projects and other institutions. Here’s some other picture. And the woman in the
upper left-hand corner– I believe that is herself
or her sister in the picture that she’s holding up. And then, after some
time after the award was given to the museum,
AASLH published a feature on the project in their
local newsletter magazine. Not their local
newsletter magazine, but their national
newsletter magazine. Excuse me. And we also, because
of that recognition, had an opportunity to have a
feature on this project in ADM. So that was pretty cool. So for me, lessons learned. It was not as difficult
as I expected. I just poked away at it a
little bit here and there as I could to compile
the materials. A great project really
does speak for itself. And the benefits, I think,
far outweigh the effort that it takes to get a
nomination package pulled together. So both for the personnel
involved as well as the people effected by the project, if
it is, indeed, good history, in the case of AASLH awards. And also, the project benefited
from additional publicity and recognition for a simple yet
powerfully impactful project. So I think those are my slides. I’m happy to answer any
questions that anybody has. SPEAKER: Thank you, Shina. SHINA DUVALL: Thank you. SPEAKER: It’s a great project. Amy, are you ready to talk
about Museum [INAUDIBLE] awards? AMY: Yes. Let me start up here. OK. Can you all hear me and see me? SPEAKER: I can see you
and I can hear you. AMY: Excellent. So I have a much
shorter pitch here. Museums Alaska has been offering
awards for over 30 years. And they are in three
general categories. And we just opened our
award nomination process. So we are currently soliciting
nominations for the fall conference, or awards to be
given at the fall conference. And the three
categories we have can be found on the awards
part of our website. And I can– I’m going to
paste that into the chat. I don’t know if that’s
helpful to anybody. But the main categories are,
we have one for volunteers. So this is an opportunity
to thank and acknowledge somebody who has given their
time to your organization. We also have one for people
who are leaving the profession. People who are retiring
or moving on to something else, to the next chapter. We have an award for that. And then finally one
for museum excellence, which we mentioned earlier. Bethany was a recent
winner of that award. And that one celebrates
an organization, a person, a project. It could be an exhibit. It could be just a wonderful
collections project. It really could be anything. So that’s a pretty broad
category for current practice. And Della and I are
working, or starting to work really hard
this year to get more notice of these awards. We think, as many of
you have said before, that awards are a
great way for people to be recognized, not only
for their contributions but for interesting
practice that can be examples to other people. And so we’re hoping to get
more applications this year. Often we get a nice handful. But we would really like to make
this program a little bit more competitive. And also more visible. And I am going to let Della
speak to that in a minute Della has a wonderful
new idea of ways to help us sort of promote
the award after we select the winners. I just wanted to say– you know, I looked at
the AASLH applications before I came to
this meeting, just to see what they were asking. And I thought Bethany’s
presentation was excellent. Museums Alaska awards
are a lot simpler. They are online. It’s a simple online
form that just requires that the person who’s
nominating identify themselves and who they’re nominating
and in what category. And then you have a space to
write several hundred words about why this is an important
project or a person who deserves recognition. And the impact of that
person or project. And I think it’s more– I’d like people to think
of it more as a letter. I’ve done these
nominations in the past, and found them to be a
great way for me to just– I sit down with a word
file, and I write a letter. And then I tweak
that a little bit and paste it right into
the submission box. It’s really an easy
entry sort of award. I think, you know, with
a couple hours of time you could create and
submit a nomination that would do a nice job
summarizing your thoughts. So I will let people
look more specifically at the awards page. Oh, Angalee is
pulling it up for us. Thank you, Angalee. There’s also a list
of the past winners, if you scroll to
the bottom of that. Here’s some nice pictures
of the past award winners. But if you scroll below each
of the award categories, you’ll see a list of
people and organizations and projects that have
been honored in the past. So this is a good way to see the
kinds of things that have been already selected and honored. And as you can see,
there are a few. We still have question
marks in our record keeping. If anybody remembers an
award that’s not listed here, we’d love to hear about it. I also wanted to make a
little push, just a little– put on my marketing hat
for a second and say, awards are really a great
way to get the word out about your organization
and about the people who work for you. And I’m going to
let Della speak here in a second about her idea. But we really at Museums Alaska
are working on that right now. As a member of the board
and somebody who’s actively involved in the grants
program at Museums Alaska, we are trying to get
promotional information out. Press releases. Other social media posts. Other recognition
to award winners. And so that’s
something we really want to help our awardees and
the people who nominate with. So we see this as not
only giving you the award, but finding ways then
to help you promote it. Della, would you like to
speak about the new initiative this year? DELLA: Sure. Excuse me. Sorry, I have a
little bit of a cold, so I apologize in advance. Yeah, so I just ran
this idea past Amy. And as you all know,
one of the major things that Museums Alaska does, on
behalf of museums in the state, is advocacy work. And so we just
thought a great way to blend the two areas of focus
would be to actually reach out to local leaders, legislators,
maybe the governor’s office, depending on what the
award is specifically. And just ask for a
letter of acknowledgment. And so this is a
way, both to really acknowledge and highlight the
work that our professionals are doing in the state, but also
it’s a little bit of advocacy. It’s getting the word out
about what museums are doing. AMY: And it’s also a great way
to get our local legislators involved in our museum process. So helping them share in
the success of the people they represent. DELLA: Absolutely. AMY: I don’t have a lot more
to add about the awards, Della. Was there anything that I didn’t
hit that you would like to add? DELLA: No, I don’t think so. I guess as Bethany was talking,
I was realizing how very simple our process is. So I encourage
everyone, if you’ve not applied for an
award in the past, and you want to get a
really easy application done for your first one, our
nomination form is very simple, I think, compared to some
of the national awards. SPEAKER: And might I add
that you could always reuse one award package
for another award. AMY: Yeah, I have actually
done that successfully. SPEAKER: Great. Shina, could you
tell on the camera how long it took for you to
apply for the AASLH award? SHINA DUVALL: Sure. I would say I worked on it a
couple hours here and there. An hour or two here and there. I didn’t– luckily I got news
from the organization well in advance so that
I wasn’t in, like, this crunch that Bethany talked
about in her presentation. If you get into a
crunch, it can be overwhelming and frustrating. But I worked on
it for probably a maybe a total of six to
eight hours all told, but it was over a period
of a couple of weeks. I’d just check in with the
people I was requesting letters of critical review
from, and say, hey, have you had a
chance to write this? Can you send me your resume. Collecting photos
from personnel who had been involved in the project. Looking over past
documentation like the budget. And in my case, the budget
for this particular project was pretty simple. So it s nice to– it was very nice to
nominate a simple project, because it ended up translating
into a simple nomination. So if you have a more
complicated project with a more complicated
budget and many moving parts, such as a large exhibition or
a community outreach project, things like that can take
significantly more time, I imagine. But if you plan accordingly,
as Bethany rightly pointed out, an hour or two here and
there is much more palatable than the super-crunch
procrastination and the frustration that
comes along with that. SPEAKER: I was just
thinking also if people are interested in pursuing
one of these awards and need a letter
of critical review, I as a curator of
statewide services would be happy to provide that. That’s part and parcel
of my job is to help support museums across Alaska. So if you feel like you
don’t know who to ask or it’s too much
work for someone, please think of me as
a resource for that. And Shina, please
tell that to people that contact you as well. SHINA DUVALL: OK, I will. Thank you, that’s great. SPEAKER: I will– oh, yeah. AMY: I’m sorry. I just wanted to add one more
thing to the Museums Alaska discussion of our awards. And that is that they’re
all reviewed by a volunteer committee of colleagues. So there’s a group of people
who have signed up to review it. Della–they come to Della. They go out then to the
committees to review. And we meet as a
group to discuss them. So it’s a very
friendly group of peers looking at these nominations. SPEAKER: Great. And I realize that we
didn’t mention another award possibility with Museums Alaska. But also the Alaska
Historical Society, and that’s the travel scholarship, which
of course isn’t necessarily an award for a project
that you’ve already done. But it’s something
to be aware of there. There is funding available to
attend the annual conference. And I’m sure that
there’s information available on the travel
scholarship at the Museums Alaska website. In addition, the Alaska
Historical Society has a travel scholarship too. And maybe I’ll really quickly– since I was just at the Alaska
Historical Society website, I’ll just quickly mention
some of the awards that they have available for
history-related projects that go to historical society
museums and other entities. So please think
about these as well. There’s the James
Ducker Historian of the Year award, which
is for an Alaska resident for creating an important
new publication about Alaska history in the last year. So it could be the
Anchorage Museum and the [INAUDIBLE]
museum have done that. Consider applying for that. There’s the Esther
Billman certificate of excellence, which
is for a project done by an organization. The Evangeline Atwood
award for excellence is for long-term contributions
to Alaska state or local history. The Barbara Sweetland
Smith Pathfinder award is specifically for
archives-related projects, finding and describing resources
related to Alaska history. And then there’s the Elva R.
Scott local historical society newsletter award, which
seems to have been expanded to enewsletters and other sort
of publications of museums and historical societies. You can find out more about
these at the Alaska Historical society’s web page. Any other thoughts or comments
before we sign off today? That sounds like a no. Well, thank you, everyone. AMY: Thank you.

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