#AskAnArchivist Day 2019: the Twitter Takeover

This year, the Committee on Public Awareness (COPA) took over Society of American Archivist’s (SAA) Twitter for #AskAnArchivist Day on Wednesday, October 2nd. Today’s post summarizes COPA members’ experiences taking over SAA’s Twitter (@archivists.org) for the day.

Rachael Woody, Consultant & Owner of Rachael Cristine Consulting LLC

I really enjoyed the Twitter takeover. I saw it as an opportunity to help boost lower-visibility archives and projects, and to raise awareness of SAA resources that may be of use to membership. I was the last shift for the takeover and being on the west coast many of the larger institutions had already ended their participation. Using the SAA Twitter account to engage during the day until 5pm Pacific allowed us to help boost or answer posts from our Pacific coast colleagues. By utilizing COPA members across the country we were able to provide 12-hours of coverage for the day and I’m really proud we were able to participate and contribute for that length of time!

Lynn Cowles, Assistant Archivist and Assistant Professor, Nicholls State University

I participated in SAA’s #AskAnArchivist Day for the first time this year. It was a great experience, although I only asked one question and didn’t really get asked any. My question:

I got some excellent answers and I really appreciate the extended community that events like this highlight. Twitter is a fantastic tool for outreach!

Nick Pavlik, Curator of Manuscripts/Coordinator of Strategic Partnerships, Bowling Green State University

From the vantage of SAA’s Twitter account, I really enjoyed seeing the rather staggering extent of the profession’s participation in #AskAnArchivist Day.  It was impossible to keep up with all the notifications on the SAA account, but since that was an indicator of all the activity going on around the #AskAnArchivist hashtag, that was a good thing!  There were some wonderfully creative and engaging tweets from archivists and repositories that sparked substantial threads filled with insightful or simply hilarious responses, and I was really pleased to see the dedication to public outreach that was on display in our profession.  In that regard, I would say this year’s #AskAnArchivist Day was another resounding success.

At the same time, it’s no secret that generating actual engagement and participation in #AskAnArchivist Day from the general public has always been a challenge, and that seemed to be the case again this year – most tweets that I saw during my time slot seemed to come from within the field.  I certainly did see some public engagement, which was very gratifying – and I really appreciated seeing Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf getting involved! – but generating more participation from those outside the archival profession remains a significant hurdle that I hope we can continually break down over time.

Nick’s Favorite Tweets of the Day

Vince Lee, Archivist, University of Houston

As a member and volunteer of COPA’s annual #AskAnArchivist Day event, I always look forward to creating and seeing others memes created leading up to the big day. Having binge watched Netflix’s “Stranger Things” series, I couldn’t wait to find the perfect meme to use. Turns out this year’s #AskAnArchivist Day would have bit of a different twist. In conjunction with participating and using our own Twitter handles, COPA members would do a scheduled “takeover” of SAA’s twitter handle answering, retweeting, liking, and in some cases asking questions throughout the day. 


During the 11 hour takeover, from 8am-7pm EST, my fellow colleagues were on hand to take care and facilitate your #AskAnArchivist needs. To be honest, I really didn’t know how it would turn out or what to expect when I signed up (gulp). Turns out  I really had nothing to worry about. It was one of the fastest and most pleasurable work hours I ever spent. There is a certain cadence and rhythm when working and tweeting with Twitter. Obviously, there is the word limits when posting or responding, then there is monitoring of the streams of  incoming tweets, from fellow archivists and institutions that were contributing, and then there were the likes and retweets of posts.

What was eye opening to me is the power and reach of using SAA’s twitter handle. I wanted to share the love and exposure to other respositories, in this case the University of Manitoba Archive. By merely liking and retweeting their post I was able to spotlight their institution and question to a wider audience. Talk about the power of social media! 


Finally to round things off, I posed some questions myself, asking fellow members:

  1. How they get students and their community members excited about archives and their collections?
  2. What does a “hybrid collection” mean to them?

The first question was a popular one. I received back 10 replies, 2 retweets, and 5 likes to this.

I’m biased, but rather than have it be one day out of the year, everyday should be #AskAnArchivist Day and #ArchivesAware if it’s this much fun and activity to showcase what we all do collectively. 

Chris Burns, Curator of Manuscripts and University Archivist, University of Vermont

Chris’ Favorite Tweets of the Day

For more information on #AskAnArchivist Day check out previous posts about this super awesome day:

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