Monday, October 4, 2010

October is Archives Month

Archives are the life-blood of historians. If the stories of libraries are to be told in the future it is imperative that the archives of libraries be preserved. All too often that is not the case. October is American Archives Month and archives across the nation are taking this opportunity to highlight their collections and their activities. Unlike National Library Week with its well organized and focused national effort, archival institutions take a much more distributed approach with many states and institutions developing their own promotional efforts. The Council of State Archivists has a webpage which highlights some of these efforts. My state of Wisconsin is using the theme "Postcard Wisconsin" to promote Archives Month. The Smithsonian Institution has a particularly aggressive campaign to promote Archives Month this year. That effort includes a 31 day blogathon.

Last year I wrote a post on the American Library Association Archives at the University of Illinois - Champaign-Urbana as part of Archives Month. I consider the ALA Archives to be a major asset in the preservation of America's library heritage and I was somewhat critical of the level of support for this important resource by ALA. As a result of that post, the ALA Archives contacted me to give a more current picture of their activities. Most of the ALA Archives have been relocated to the Archives Research Center (see photo above) at the University of Illinois which ensures that the archives are maintained in a secure climate controlled environment and they are more accessible. They have also opened a dedicated reading room for use by researchers using the ALA archival materials. A map showing the location of the Archives Research Center can be found HERE. I continue my plea for ALA to place a higher priority on maintaining and improving this American library heritage treasure.

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