Blog Entry 12: Creating an Advocacy Committee on the Local Level

Creating an Advocacy Committee on the Local Level:

The Advocacy Committee of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc.


Whether it is preserving a fragile document, requesting a budget increase for supplies, or training a researcher in proper handling techniques, archivists advocate for the needs of their collections on a daily basis. But who will advocate for the preservation of un-stewarded collections; request budget increases at the state level; or train the public on the value of archival documents?

Establishing an advocacy committee – especially at the local level – provides a unified voice for a regional archives organization, and can fulfill the responsibilities listed above.

An advocacy committee exists to support the needs of the local organization’s membership, and can be established regardless of whether there are any local issues requiring immediate advocacy action. In addition to reacting to external issues, such as budget cuts at the state or municipal archives, the destruction of records at a local college, or an environmental disaster causing damage to individual and institutional records, an advocacy committee can – and should – provide practical resources for members of a regional organization.

Archival advocacy is a multi-faceted undertaking. A newly founded advocacy committee must determine where the focus of their activities is best served and establish their mission to reflect this purpose. A successful advocacy committee should maintain a balance between proactive planning and reactive action. It is essential that dedicated committee members stay current, seeking out issues related to archival advocacy. Identifying issues can be a difficult task, as many remain hidden within institutions and may not surface in the media. In order to identify these issues, it is important for an advocacy committee to collaborate with other regional organizations geared towards similar interests, such as historic preservation or cultural advocacy. Structured monthly meetings provide a platform to discuss new issues and track pre-existing concerns. Based on group discussion, the committee can determine a suitable course of action, be it disseminating information or petitions, actively attending local political meetings, writing letters to government officials, or other actions, as necessary. Maintaining an active web presence enables the committee to provide updated information about current actions, and direct emails alert members to issues that necessitate immediate action. An active website can also host practical advocacy resources for archivists.

Founded in 2010, the Advocacy Committee of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. supports a membership of over 550 professional archivists in the New York City area (a history of its founding is available on the Issues and Advocacy Roundtable’s site). The Committee has a broad yet simple mission: to provide leadership to archivists and to provide direction on important policy issues to the community as a whole. To fulfill this mission, the Committee actively disseminates information about current actions; maintains an online resource center for archivists so they can better advocate for the profession, their repositories, and themselves; and organizes meetings or workshops based on archival advocacy. The Committee serves as a voice for the archives community; reports on pending state and federal legislation in a timely manner; promotes archives and archival issues to government, decision-makers, funders, other organizations, the media and the general public; and provides resources to archivists so they can better advocate for the profession, their repositories, and themselves.

The formation of local advocacy committees helps to ensure that issues of direct relevance to archives and archivists are identified and addressed. As it stands, these committees are scarce; however, the creation of additional advocacy committees will lead to an exciting opportunity to build a regional, state, federal, or international advocacy networks, allowing archivists to share experiences and actions, resulting in a stronger voice for the archives profession.

For more information about the Advocacy Committee of Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc., please visit:

Guest post by Tiffany Colannino, Advocacy Committee Chair / Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc.