Blog Entry 18: Learning who to contact to get advocacy work done on the local and state levels

I believe that advocacy is such a critical part of being an archivist. Yes, I think that it is - and should be - a central part to our profession. Without advocating for our archives, our institutions, and our profession, we truly run the risk of jeopardizing the historical record and our jobs.

It is easy to take a defeatist mindset in this economic milieu (or should I say malaise?).  Though we hear such dire news about the recession that we’re in and the havoc that it’s wreaking on our cultural institutions (and education, etc., etc.), I firmly believe that we can remain positive. I truly believe that by contacting our elected officials and legislators, we can be heard. And that it will make a difference.

When I contact my legislators on advocacy for archival matters, my "librarian" gets flipped on and I look to the best internet sites that will serve as the best reference sources to connect me with the officials that will help to make a difference.

One is the federal government’s official web portal, On this site there’s a very handy list, “Contact Elected Officials," which allows you to “Call, e-mail, or mail U.S. state and federal elected officials and government agencies.”  It has links on it for the President, the Vice President, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, State Governors, State Legislators, how to tweet to your Representatives, and how to contact government agencies and just who to contact when you’ve got a particular topic you want to have legislators address.

Similarly, the United States House of Representatives has a page, “Find Your Representative" which you can search via zip code.  Finding the names of your congressmen can be confusing, but this site makes the search painless.  This page also has a terrific set of Frequently Asked Questions, which includes this question and answer that might be particularly useful when there’s a big issue pending – such as the previously proposed closure of the Georgia State Archives:

Is it okay for my company / organization to link to the Find Your Representative service?

The Find Your Representative service is provided as a public resource for identifying and contacting a constituent's elected representative. There is currently no restriction on a link being posted to the Find Your Representative page at to facilitate constituents in expressing their concerns and issues to their representative in Congress.

In terms of contacting one’s state legislators, most state government sites are constructed in a manner more or less the same. Most have links to House District maps and Senate District maps. I’ve been extremely lucky to have a very responsive Indiana State Representative who sends me personally crafted responses to my advocacy work.

Here’s the site for the state of Indiana

Lastly, your city or town should also allow you contact information for your mayor, your common council (or whichever similar iteration it takes in your community), as well as specific governmental departments and boards. This is also the ‘go to’ spot to find just when there will be public meetings so you can go to those meetings to advocate to your community officials and your fellow community members.

Here’s the site for the city of South Bend

With these information sources serving as tools to make connections and speak out and up, you should be able to make your voice heard, as well as to meet – and make your legislators know who you are. And with this knowledge and communication, you should be able to be an agent and voice for change for the greater archival good.