Archives are good

This month is American Archives month. Archivists are trying to create better public awareness of the value of archives and to reach new audiences. I applaud this effort as I think that no one doesn’t like archives but lots of people may not know enough about archives to know that they don’t not like them. 🙂 In fact if more people knew about archives they would like them a lot. If you want to learn more about what’s going on with this campaign check out the Society of American Archivists site.

But how do we know that archives are good? Can we measure the kind of impact archives have on people who use them? This is a topic of research that some of my colleagues, Wendy Duff, Beth Yakel, and Helen Tibbo, are working on right now and hope to present at SAA next year.

One example of demonstrating the value/impact archives have on people is the result of the good marketing work done by The National Archives in the UK. As a result of their public awareness campaign they have successfully engaged huge new audiences and wonderful support from new sources like the BBC. A program they sponsored called Who Do You Think You Are generated tremendous audience enthusiasm for archives by telling the most heartfelt and engaging stories of real people documented by the archives, one visceral way of demonstrating the impact of archives.

And just the other day, my friend Lesley Richmond pointed out on the UK archives discussion list that perhaps the reach could go even further. Her words,

Archives are becoming more popular as a “brand” and a “product”
Today Darkest Hour has released a new CD entitled “Archives” to celebrate their 10th anniversary. “Archives” is a collection of material that is either out-of-print, extremely rare or previously unreleased. Included are their first two EPs, “The Prophecy Fulfilled” and “The Misanthrope”, both completely remastered from the source tapes, in addition to previously unreleased songs and alternate versions never before heard.
Darkest Hour is a metalcore/melodic deathcore band with thrash metal influences. Being aware of their album may raise the archivists esteem amongst metal and punk band fans.”

So, archives are not only good, they rock!

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