Resources and Toolkits


SAA's Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) provides strategic information and advice to the SAA Council on ways in which to promote the value of archives and archivists to institutions, communities, and society. The Committee works with staff and outside counsel to develop public awareness programs. For more information and perspectives, see the COPA microsite and the ArchivesAWARE! blog.

SAA Tools

What Is an Archives?: A guide to help you explain archives in an approachable way. (PDF)

Elevator Speech: Check out COPA’s elevator speech cheat sheet – with prompts to guide you toward your perfect pitch – and review Talking Points on the Value of Archives for elevator speech examples.

Archives, Public Policy & You: Advocacy Guide: A guide for speaking to members of Congress.

Articulating the Value of Your Archives to Resource Allocators, ArchivesAWARE! blog post by Erin Lawrimore (February 2016).

Stories That Demonstrate the Value of Archives: Short stories that share how archives have helped change lives.

How to Use Prized Items in Your Collection to Tell a Story: A guide to help you craft collection stories. (PDF)

I Found it in the Archives! winners 2012 and 2013.

Deriving Value from Collections in the Time of Corona (COVID_19): A webinar for enhancing museum and archives collection programs online through adaptation and repurposing of content, reviewing digital usership and digital collection best practices, and capturing the value of your online collections work to broadcast to administrative stakeholders. Presented by Margot Note, Chris Cummings, and Rachael Woody (April 7, 2020). 

Related Tools

Advocacy Brochure: The International Council on Archives Section of Professional Associations has published an advocacy brochure that provides advice for both individuals and associations.

ArchivesInfo’s Why Value Archives?: Written by Melissa Mannon.

The Societal Role of Archives: The Council on Library and Information Resources’  description of archives and the role they play.

Advocacy Archive: A list of links to issue briefs and statements on issues of importance to archives and archivists, provided by the National Coalition for History. 


A Year of Living Dangerously for Archives: In 2014–2015, SAA President Kathleen Roe issued a challenge to SAA members to spend a year "living dangerously" by taking action—even if you start small—to increase awareness of what you do.

History Relevance: Promotes a shared language and other tools and strategies to mobilize history organizations in the United States around the relevance and value of history. Check out the History Relevance Toolkit to craft your “Value of History” statement.


Kathleen Roe’s Advocacy and Awareness for Archivists (2019). Kathleen D. Roe draws on her extensive experience to walk new and experienced archivists through basic principles and practices of advocating for and creating awareness of archives. From building archival advocacy programs to lobbying local and national legislators, Roe encourages archivists to think beyond the “elevator speech” to identify clear paths for relevant engagement. Writing exercises guide archivists in thinking through their advocacy goals and identifying when and to whom their efforts should be targeted.

Margot Note’s Creating Family Archives: A Step-by-Step Guide to Saving Your Memories for Future Generations (2019) is the first book published by SAA targeted to the public. Elegantly designed with full-color illustrations, it emphasizes the importance of every family’s history. Note describes the items worth saving—photos, videos, aged documents, and cherished papers—and the need for a better home than a cardboard box. She takes the reader step-by-step through the process of arranging and preserving their own family archives.

Laura Millar’s A Matter of Facts: The Value of Evidence in an Information Age (2019) sets out to convince the general public of the value of evidence and why it matters. As noted by a reviewer in Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies, “At the heart of Millar’s work is the theme of interconnectivity between records and our sense of self and inclusion within our communities, which underscores the importance of recognizing how critical evidence is to our daily lives and how it needs watchful protection. It is an important message because archivists, librarians, and information professionals cannot do this alone, and in a post-truth world, society needs to come together to support evidence-based truth and challenge false facts and manipulation of evidence.”

Michael Moss and David Thomas’ book Do Archives Have Value? (2019). Discusses the various valuation methods available, including contingent valuation, willingness to pay and value chain, and assesses their suitability for use by archives and special collections. The authors also assess the impact of the transition to the digital in archival holdings, which will transform their character and will almost certainly cost more. The discussion takes place in the context of changing societal expectations of the archive in the wake of child abuse and other scandals for which records to address grievances must be kept, irrespective of cost.

Public Relations and Marketing for Archives: A How-To-Do-It Manual (2011), edited by Peter Wosh and Russell James, co-published by SAA and Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., provides a helpful introduction to public relations basics, from writing good press releases to evaluating PR services and working with internal public relations offices. It offers step-by-step guidance for using archival collections as PR tools and for collaborating and connecting with educational and community groups, college students, historical organizations, donors, and media outlets.


For more ideas, check out these peer-reviewed articles related to promoting archives and archivists. 

For More Resources, See These Related SAA Groups

Several other SAA groups are actively engaged in providing public awareness materials and tips. For example, see the following SAA component group microsites:

Committee on Public Policy

Reference, Access, and Outreach Section

Business Archives Section

Archivists and Archives of Color Section (Heritage Month Project)

Congressional Records Section

Issues and Advocacy Section