Promoting Archival Work

Margot Note

Margot Note

January 08, 2024

Beyond safeguarding historical records, archivists promote using and understanding invaluable resources. 

Their advocacy extends to championing their programs and organizational needs, ensuring that archival work receives the support it deserves. Advocacy for archivists and archival work takes many forms, all geared toward advancing the mission of preserving and providing access to historical records. 

Public Policy

A crucial element of archivist advocacy involves developing public policies concerning archival and recordkeeping matters. Archivists possess unique expertise in managing, preserving, and accessing records. This knowledge equips them to provide insights into the development of policies that govern records management, data retention, and privacy. They work to ensure that public policy aligns with best practices in the field and serves the interests of society.

For example, archivists have been at the forefront of discussions on digital preservation and data privacy in the digital age. They advocate for regulations and standards that protect the long-term accessibility of digital records and the privacy rights of individuals. Their expertise is indispensable in crafting legislation that balances the needs of government, businesses, and citizens.

The Public Interest

Another crucial aspect of archivist advocacy is securing the utilization of archivists’ specialized knowledge for the benefit of the public. Archivists are not just keepers of records; they are interpreters of history, helping people make sense of the past and its relevance to the present and future. They engage with researchers, educators, and the public to make historical records accessible.

This engagement includes collaborating with researchers to uncover hidden historical narratives and supporting educators in integrating primary sources into their curriculum. Archivists work with the public to help individuals trace their family histories, conduct genealogical research, or explore local heritage. By actively promoting historical records, archivists make the past come alive and facilitate a deeper understanding of shared history.

Moreover, archivists play a pivotal role in understanding the utility and value of archival work locally and beyond. Archivists’ work extends beyond the archives’ walls; they are community connectors, engaging with local organizations, schools, and cultural institutions. They organize events, exhibitions, and workshops to bring historical records to the public’s attention and highlight their relevance.

Relatable Value

These efforts help bridge the gap between the archival world and the communities they serve. By making the value of archival work tangible and relatable, archivists gain support and ensure that people understand the significance of their work. This understanding paves the way for greater investment in archives and archival programs.

Fostering backing and comprehension for every facet of archival work is essential to secure the resources required to continue their work. Archivists advocate for investment in their field at various levels, including local, state, and national. This advocacy is not just about securing financial resources but also about fostering a culture that values and respects the work of archivists.

To secure resources, archivists often find themselves making the case for the importance of their work to government agencies, private foundations, and other potential funders. They highlight the impact of their collections on research, education, and cultural preservation. They also stress the economic benefits of archival work, such as its role in tourism and community development. They emphasize that archives are repositories and engines of cultural, social, and economic growth.

Additionally, archivists advocate for their profession through professional organizations, which are crucial in advancing the field. These organizations provide a platform for archivists to collectively support their needs, exchange knowledge, and establish best practices. They also promote the value of archivists’ work and the preservation of historical records to a broader audience.

Archivists engage in advocacy efforts on the local level, working with city and county governments, historical societies, and cultural institutions. These local connections are instrumental in building support and understanding of the work of archivists. By fostering relationships with community leaders and influencers, archivists ground their advocacy efforts to the needs and interests of the communities they serve.

Beyond the Repository

Archivist advocacy extends beyond the walls of the archives. Archivists are advocates for preserving historical records and the role of archival work in society. They contribute to the formation of public policy, actively promote the use and understanding of historical records, and work tirelessly to secure the resources needed to continue their vital work. Archivists ensure that the past remains accessible and relevant for future generations. Their advocacy is a professional duty and a commitment to enriching cultural heritage.

Margot Note

Margot Note

Margot Note, archivist, consultant, and Lucidea Press author is a regular blogger, and popular webinar presenter for Lucidea—provider of ArchivEra, archival collections management software for today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. Read more of Margot’s posts here.

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