I am taking a class in outreach & advocacy this semester, and am loving every minute of it. Whereas so much of the archival program at Simmons has focused on the nuts & bolts of being an archivist, this class focuses on our place in the larger environment (from the archives’ parent institution to the community at large).
Even in a large, well-funded organization, the archives are at best misunderstood and at worst invisible. It’s a classic underdog scenario, and so archivists need to constantly improve and adapt in order for their archives to survive. It is a mandate of the profession that we be bright, beloved, resilient, and adaptable (no mean feat for a group of self-described introverts).
One of the reasons that I love the archives profession is that it takes even more than your best effort to create and sustain a program that not only survives, but thrives. You must exceed your abilities; stretch and grow every day. You must live the inspirational 80s movie montage. This is a huge challenge!
In addition to an individual archivist’s need to advocate for their specific archives, we all share the responsibility of raising general awareness about the profession. There are already efforts underway, notably on Twitter. The hashtags #OverlyHonestArchivists and #ArchivistValentines were particularly good efforts that built on existing memes; because of that, those tweets were both findable and intellectually accessible to the general Twitter population. Have you seen other examples, either on Twitter or elsewhere on the popular web? Or, do you have an idea on a new project to raise awareness? If so, drop me a line or comment on this post.