Kathleen Roe 2014-09-29 11:40:44
It’s really pretty simple. Archives change lives . . . Sometimes in breathtaking ways, sometimes in quiet but essential ways. Nonetheless, every encounter that a user has with archives results in some increase or change in knowledge, some adjustment to a direction, some altered perspective, some affecting of the human experience. Archives have value for so many different people—our managers, our colleagues, our friends, the public, our users, potential users, and even people who may never directly use them. I hope in the coming year we can work together to take some specific actions to raise awareness of the importance and value of archives in our lives, our organizations, our government, and our society. In my incoming presidential remarks at the recent Annual Business Meeting (http://www2.archivists.org/history/leaders/kathleen-roe /incoming-presidential-remarks-the-year-of- living-dangerously-for-archives), I issued a challenge to us as SAA members, as 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”). This challenge to take action draws on the increasing interest and energy that has been growing among you, our members and colleagues, around the idea that we as a profession need to step forward to raise awareness of the importance and value of archives and the critical role of archivists who make these incomparable resources available. We have the Committee on Public Awareness, the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy, and groups like the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable, the Congressional Papers Roundtable, the Business Archives Section, and others who are dedicated to moving forward in awareness and advocacy. But each of us can do something to contribute to our collective success. Many voices will strengthen our ability to make a difference. Every month or so during the coming year, we will put forward “challenge” opportunities for you to consider, and we hope to spur ideas that will help you promote the value of archives. At http://www2.archivists.org/living-dangerously you can find the current challenge, links to additional information to help you formulate ideas, and (soon I hope!) Information on what actions others have done as their “commitment to awareness and advocacy for archives.” Although we cannot predict challenges in federal funding, closure of archives, or key legislation at the national or state levels, as issues develop where advocacy from the archival community is important, we’ll alert you to those as well. We will provide you with support materials, examples, and contact information so you can write letters or make phone calls or onsite visits to advocate for important archival concerns. We want to measure and track what we are able to accomplish in the next year, and we’ll acknowledge and celebrate those efforts at the end of the Year of Living Dangerously for Archives. The SAA staff have developed some simple online reporting forms, and we are enlisting a group of volunteers to help gather and aggregate all of the many ways you contribute to the awareness and advocacy effort. Archives matter. Let’s take the next year to work together to draw attention to the essential role that archives and archivists play in the lives of individuals, our communities, and our nation. We can make a difference—I look forward to the journey with you!
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