Kathleen Roe 2015-03-28 05:04:20
Archives matter. They are not just interesting facts and stories disconnected from current life. Whether for personal reasons, academic pursuits, educational uses, preserving rights, or ensuring transparency in government, the use of archival records has an impact. Every time a person uses archival records, something happens. Demonstrating the impact, the value, and the importance of archival records and the work of archivists is the focus of “The Year of Living Dangerously for Archives.” So in my incoming presidential remarks on August 16, 2014, I urged all of you, my colleagues, to spend the coming year (525,600 minutes) in endeavoring to show why archives matter. We have and will continue to suggest monthly challenges to provide ideas and options for how you might do that. Your ideas also are more than welcome. Any and every effort to raise awareness of archives and archivists counts! Our hope is to draw attention to the ways we can take that extra step and talk about the value of archives, the importance of what we do, of what can be realized through the use of archival records. How are we doing so far? To date, fourteen individuals have submitted stories and reported on outreach events that point to the importance of archival records. On October 30, the Committee on Public Awareness initiated a highly successful #AskAnArchivist Day Twitter event with more than one hundred institutions participating. Another twenty-one organizations have reported on their American Archives Month activities. During the month of December, colleagues have submitted more than seventy-five quotes from writers, researchers, students, and others commenting on the value of archives. And as the current Congressional session waned, a number of our colleagues used email and Twitter to urge the passage of amendments to reform the Freedom of Information Act. There will be more challenges offered to stimulate your thinking, and feel free to try any of the ideas we’ve provided on the website at: http://www2.archivists.org /living-dangerously. If you’re a member of a roundtable or section, a student chapter, or a regional archives group, think about how to engage your group. Please be sure to let us know what you have done—there are places on the website to do that or email me at email@example.com. In the past three months, I’ve heard many, many comments about the very real challenges the archives profession faces. Again and again, people talk about the lack of understanding; the lack of respect; and the failure of managers, leaders, stakeholders, and the public to value what we do. It affects employment, salaries, resources to do our work, the use of archival records, respect for our profession—you know the list. We can change that—it will take time for us to learn to explain and compile the evidence that illustrates why archives matter. Most of all, it requires us to have the will to make this change. If we work together, we can accomplish real and effective progress for our profession. So, I urge you again to contribute to “The Year of Living Dangerously for Archives.” The time is now, the choice is ours!
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