Advocacy in the Archives

GAM poster UD

2014 Georgia Archives Month theme: “Sweet Tea and Southern Breezes”

It’s soon to be October–do you know what that means? In the USA, it will be American Archives Month, and in Georgia, it will be Georgia Archives Month. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you have seen this topic before.

I thought I would post something a bit earlier for new readers and to remind the regulars to think of something–however small–you can do to help promote your archives and the archives profession in general. New tools and resources are available this year, alongside the standard ones listed in the previous blog posts.

SAA President Kathleen Roe, in her inaugural address at the 2014 SAA Conference, challenged archivists:

to spend a year “living dangerously” by taking some concerted actions to increase awareness of and advocate for archives. It’s not something that most of us have been trained to do, and it is something that for many of us is a bit beyond our comfort zone (hence the element of “danger”).

She mentions in a recent blog post that she will be issuing challenge opportunities for archivists to consider, and I know I’m certainly looking forward to see what she suggests.

It’s wonderful when a new student, staff, or faculty member comes to visit me with a new reference request, or an idea for a collaboration using the archives collection. I had a student recently stop me in the hallway, knowing I was the archivist, and asked to see the student newspapers from the 1980s. I was pleased that recognition was there, and makes me realize that I am on the right track with becoming more visible on campus. I was even interviewed for an article in the upcoming issue of the student newspaper about the new archives space (part of the larger Upper School library renovation). To be able to share the passion I feel about this profession and the work involved is extremely rewarding and fun.

I would love to hear your “elevator speeches” in the comments, and “challenge” those who haven’t created an elevator speech to make one. Here are some tips on how to develop an elevator speech from the Society of Georgia Archivists.

In addition, please read the Provenance XXXI, Issue 1, Special Issue on Advocacy (2013), compiled and made available online through the tireless effort of Cheryl Oestreicher, Provenance Editor. Many of you read about the situation concerning the Georgia Archives in 2012, and many lessons were learned as the community rallied behind the Archives to save it from complete closure.


The “Explore Your Archives” poster on the National Archives (UK) website.

Another resource that is available was created in the UK: The “Explore Your Archives” Toolkit. The toolkit was created to “to increase public awareness of the essential role of archives in our society, to celebrate our network of collections and emphasise the skill and professionalism of the sector.” It includes tips, artwork, activity ideas that archivists can use when promoting their collections and services to their community, and was designed to be used at any time of the year. While no specific theme is mentioned for this year, there is a note that since many archives will be featuring exhibits and activities centering around WWI, some specific advice, guidance, and artwork on this subject will be included in the toolkit.

Note: As I was writing this blog post, a faculty member came by and asked, “So what all do you have in here?” I love this part of my job.


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