Friday, June 04, 2004

American Archivist

"Who cares about that ol' stuff?" That question hunts this archivist. About to enter a new profession, I plan to do all I can to increase the awareness of the importance of archives and archivists among other information professionals and the general public. Archivists can play a critical role in widening and deepening the public debate on all topics such as transparent government, free speech, human and civil rights, and other topics of national importance. Charlene N. Bickford writes ("The Coalition to Save our Documentary Heritage." MARAC, 1983) about a specific case of archival advocacy, for example. So there are hints that many,many people care a great deal, in truth. The job of the American Archivist, government official or cultural information manager, is to assist in the equal and open access to the resources for the creation of truthful stories.

Generalizing or popularizing topics usually of interest to a small audience is an art practiced by publicists, academics, in fact anyone who employs the rhetorical arts. Archivists are the partners of storytellers. Archivists are a gateway to the work of humankind. Nothing prevents them from using their skills to tell their own story.

Far too few people know of the work we do and the good that comes of it. Information professionals, and that includes CIOs, archivists, academic and public librarians, are a highly educated and skilled work force, and they can do better to demonstrate the positive role they play in the conduct of the work of this country. Their professional values are in concert with the principles of representative democracy, so why then do we tolerate remaining an undervalued national resource? Let's use the resources at our disposal to master the articulation of professional and ethical social values of importance to several developing national information emergencies: Executive Order 13323, the toleration of lapses of international civil rights standards, the list could go on.

I'll post more thoughts on these matters in the future.
For now, I'm just glad to be online. Before I sign off, a point of personal privilege: I'm honored that Keith has taken me under his big ol' bloggin' wing. I'm looking forward to building my bloggin' skills. Thanks, Keith.


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