Highlight: Advocating Business Archives Toolkit

This post was authored by guest contributor Scott Grimwood, System Manager of Archives, SSM Health Care


Most archivists acknowledge the importance of raising awareness of archives and their value to individuals, organizations, and society as a whole–especially in regards to major stakeholders and decision makers. For business archivists, this reality cannot be denied: effective advocacy is often directly related to a business archives’ (and archivist’s) continued existence within that organization.

Any business archives exists at the discretion of the business it serves and is at risk of being shut down if it is not seen as adding value to the organization, or as they say in the business world, providing adequate return on investment (ROI). This can be very difficult for business archivists since ROI is measured by how much money you either earned or saved the company.

In 2014 the Business Archives Section (BAS) of the Society of American Archivists put together the “Advocating Business Archives Toolkit” as a central resource to its members, as a place where they could find extremely helpful information on and examples of successful advocacy. Because advocacy and awareness is vital to the to the entire archives profession, BAS encourages all archivists to utilize this valuable toolkit.


BAS Advocating Business Archives Toolkits screenshot, Society of American Archivists website

The Advocating Business Archives Toolkit has a wealth of information broken down into seven categories:

  • How to Get Started,
  • Articles on the Value of Archives,
  • BAS Member Recommendations & Success Stories,
  • Elevator Speech Examples,
  • Helpful Sites,
  • SAA Training Opportunities on Advocacy, and
  • Tips & Tricks.

The resources come from a wide variety of sources including external sources such as the American Association of School Librarians, American Alliance of Museums, and the Harvard Business Review.

The goal of the Toolkit is to provide archivists with the basic information to create and implement an advocacy program, and it does an excellent job. While the information from outside sources is very helpful, by far the best information comes directly from the experience of business archivists. Nothing beats a practical idea that has been tried and tested.

Most of the “archivist-tested” advocacy materials can be found in the “BAS Member Recommendations & Success Stories” and “Elevator Speech Examples” sections. The information and examples in both can be thought-provoking and inspiring, especially if you are looking to increase your advocacy efforts. Even if you do not work in a business setting, the motivations behind each example will be familiar to all archivists, and you’ll find many ideas that you can use as starting points to create an effective advocacy plan and individual projects and programs to raise awareness of your archives in your institution/organization/community.

Screenshot 2

Portion of the BAS Member Recommendations & Success Stories section of the BAS Advocating Business Archives Toolkit

While there can never be a single source for anything, the Business Archives Section’s “Advocating Business Archives Toolkit” comes pretty close when it comes to archival advocacy. It is worth your time to check out the toolkit and see what it contains that can be of help to you!

Share your favorite source of archival advocacy ideas in the comments below, or contact the ArchivesAWARE editors to contribute a guest post! Read more about the submission process on the About page, then contact the editors at archivesaware@archivists.org.

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