It’s really pretty simple. Archives change lives…sometimes in breath-taking 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-with-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, 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.
Over the coming year, we will put forward “challenge” opportunities for you to consider, and hopefully to spur ideas that will promote the value of archives. We want to measure and track what we all 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. Feel free to contact me with suggestions, ideas, or concerns now or along the way.
Watch for the first “challenge” next week—and please join in the effort, because together we can do amazing things for archives!