Archivists Round Table – Exploring ART Advocacy

In spring 2018, I was an intern for the Archivists Round Table (ART) to create an inventory of its archives located at the New York Philharmonic. The inventory created an in-depth overview of its records, prepared future projects for its archival materials, and explored its almost 40-year history in New York. To conclude my time with the archives, I created editorials that allowed members and the public to better understand ART's history and influence.

Originally published on the Archivists Round Table website: Exploring ART Advocacy

Advocacy has remained part of ART's mission since its inception in 1979. The awareness and preservation of information in archival collections is the forefront of the organization as its members and activities continue to promote the professional and public importance of archival collections and practices. Advocacy is a critical topic in preserving archives as they continue to function as historic reminders of our history, activity, and knowledge, as well as celebrating those things. ART’s advocacy footprint can be explored on the current public advocacy page. My time exploring ART’s unique history has revealed its much more detailed and celebrated past in supporting archives across state and professional borders that I hope can expand its public footprint even more.

I believe that promoting the understanding of archives is the first step in advocacy. The more we share the importance of archives, the more people we can unite to support them. Archives are the records of permanent value to interpret and preserve history to support the value of many organizations across government, education, businesses, communities, and people. Their significant value as an entity and profession is through the collective ownership of informational that acts as a documentary record for its past, present, and future users. As described by the committee, the Advocacy Committee aims to serve the archives association by, “reporting on local, state, national, and international issues that impact archives and archivists; supporting equality and diversity within the profession; and providing resources and knowledge that can be used to strengthen the archives community, its repositories, and the general public by keeping informed of policies and legislation that directly impact services and access to information.” It’s efforts not only support the activities of the members, but of other archival organizations as well.

 As I’ve explored the dynamic materials in the ART archives generously housed at the New York Philharmonic, I’ve discovered various advocacy efforts from ART and partner organizations that date back to the early 1980s. In 2006, ART was awarded the Annual Archives Award for Excellence in Advocacy that recognizes their efforts in the state of New York to promote responsible action in archival preservation. These efforts in advocacy exists in letters, workshops, emails, and events and mark important moments in the ART timeline as it continues to share and promote its mission of archival advocacy. This also proves that advocacy for archives and archival institutions never ends. There are always efforts to be made in improving the performance and exposure of archives and its professionals in order to improve the documentation of our history and act as responsible stewards of information. Even as the venerable members of ART have changed throughout the years, the unified voice for advocacy remains the same.

Many records from the ART archives demonstrate the ongoing attention to local and national events, community engagement, and professional development that are involved in creating responsible advocacy efforts in archives. ART's partnership with other organizations generates a collective support for national archives and their responsible care including participating in the awareness of the funding, professional appointments, preservation care, disaster relief, and responsible disposal. Major events throughout ART's timeline have sparked new relationships with organizations, public leaders, local institutions, and members of government that continue to grow over time. As emerging and experienced leaders continue to learn about the important relationships between archives and history, the opportunity to create stronger advocacy will grow. 

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