A Bazaar by any other name is still…(an event)?

This post was authored by guest contributor Vince Lee, Archivist at the University of Houston, and current member of SAA’s Committee on Public Awareness (COPA).

As we wrapped up our inaugural Houston Archives Bazaar in September of this year, I was curious to see what others were doing all around the country and in their region. What did they call their events? The Houston Archives Bazaar took inspiration, and if we’re honest, help from the Austin Archives Bazaar and the folks who helped create and run it. They were very generous in sharing their time, knowledge, and experience of the planning and logistics that went into hosting the event.

Image Credit: Austin Archives Bazaar Org

The Austin Archives Bazaar was started by Archivists of Central Texas in 2014. “We were initially inspired by the LA Archives Bazaar and the Portland Archives Crawl, but have since learned of other institution-independent collaborative outreach events which also predate the Austin Bazaar,” said Jennifer Hecker, one of the cofounders. Jennifer is joined by Daniel Alonzo, Madeline Moya, Molly Hults, and Kristy Sorenson as the other cofounders of the group. To date the Austin Archives Bazaar has hosted two events in 2014 and 2016 and are currently in the planning for their third in 2018.

Image Credit: Oklahoma Archivists Association

Looking around the Southwest region, another newcomer to the scene is the Oklahoma Archives Bazaar. In partnership with the Oklahoma Historical Society, they just held their inaugural Bazaar back on October 28 during American Archives Month. Not unlike our Houston Bazaar, they also featured door prizes, an oral history booth, self-archiving workshops, and presentations by archivists as well as historians.  The Bazaar was organized by the Oklahoma Archivists Association (OAA), a group of local professional archivists dedicated to providing education and networking for archives professionals, record-keepers, and students in the area.

Poster of the 2016 Oregon Archives Crawl (Image Credit: Kylie Thalhofer)

The Oregon Archives Crawl was established in 2008 and has been hosted every other year by a group of volunteers in the month of October. As the name suggests, rather than having all activities and events at one venue or under one roof, attendees are encouraged to visit and “crawl” between the Portland Archives and Records Center, the Multnomah County Central Library, and Oregon Historical Society. Much like a pub crawl, the benefits are that it allows visitors to sample and get a flavor for each of the venues in their natural settings, while at the same time they can pick and choose activities offered at each site, and also they can get a sneak peek or tour behind the scenes at each repository.

Perhaps the Granddaddy of all Archives Bazaars goes to? Survey says…. Los Angeles (LA) Archives Bazaar! Established in 2006, the LA Archives Bazaar has often been the genesis and inspiration for other Archival Bazaars that have sprung up around the country. Hosted annually by USC Libraries and LA as Subject (an alliance of libraries, museums, and other archival and cultural institutions), the event has been at the Doheny Memorial Library on the campus of the University of Southern California. Their motto to visitors has simply been, “All Day. All in One Place”. The goal is to share the rich and diverse histories that make up Southern California. Participants at the event have included the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Los Angeles Public Library to private collectors. Visitors will also get to meet with exhibitors, attend programs, and workshops throughout the day.  (Bonus: check out this time-lapse video of the LA Archives Bazaar!)

LA Archives Bazaar at the Doheny Memorial Library (Photo Credit: Rich Schmitt)

2016 Vermont History Expo (Image Credit: Daryl Storrs)

But wait just a minute here. Although not technically a Bazaar and according to their website it is now defunct, the Vermont History Expo was started in 2000 as a result of expanding upon the success of the Vermont Heritage Weekend that was hosted in 1999. Throughout the next 16 years, thirteen expos would be hosted at the Vermont Historical Society until 2016. During that time expos would feature heritage exhibits, children’s activities, historical reenactments, performers, authors, and historical presentations that focused on different themes throughout Vermont’s history. There was literally something for everyone and every interest.

It seems up for debate as to when the concept of the Archives Bazaar, Crawl, or Expo started, and which one is the oldest, depending on the criteria one uses.  What isn’t debatable is that each of these events, regardless of their names, serves to promote the importance of documenting local/state/regional history and raising awareness of the various repositories that exist, whether they be archives, libraries, museums, or cultural institutions, in preserving that history. It also raises awareness of the ongoing and important work that we as archival professionals do within our regions and locales.

We would love to hear from others on the creative lexicon of terms you’ve encountered to title an archival event!

I Advocate, You Advocate, We Advocate…with the Advocacy Toolkit


This post was authored by guest contributor Christine George, Archivist and Faculty Services Librarian, Charles B. Sears Law Library, SUNY Buffalo Law School


Advocacy is a tricky thing. Sure there are definitions for it, but it seems like it means something slightly different to everyone. If you want proof, check out the Steering Shares on the Issue & Advocacy (I&A) Roundtable’s blog. One of the questions each I&A Steering Committee Member answers is “How would you define advocacy?” Each and every one of us has a different answer. Not drastically different, but each comes from a different perspective. Though the Steering Shares are only from the current I&A leadership, I feel fairly confident that past leadership also had varied perspectives.

One of the things to come out of those varied perspectives is the Advocacy Toolkit. Created by I&A’s 2013–2014 leadership, the Advocacy Toolkit was meant to pull together resources on advocacy for archives and archivists. In its own words:

A large part of advocacy involves convincing financial and political stakeholders of the value that archives add to a given community, and all related efforts need be supported by evidence. The resources listed, which also serve as access points to more resources, contain the types of quantitative information and qualitative narratives that help make the case for archives. This list is not exhaustive; rather it is a starting point for those looking for facts, arguments, and compelling reasoning to lend weight to their advocacy efforts. The resources linked here do not indicate endorsement, but offer some templates which can be used to formulate advocacy efforts.

The Toolkit has been updated by subsequent I&A Steering Committees. Over the years, the Advocacy Toolkit hasn’t caught on. We wanted to change that in a big way when we decided to tackle the latest update. To start, the Advocacy Toolkit got a new home. Beginning in 2016, we moved the Advocacy Toolkit and the I&A blog to our new website. Then we reached out to the Regional Archival Associations Consortium (RAAC) to help us expand the Advocacy Toolkit.

Step 1 of this collaboration is to evaluate what we have and plan out how to move forward. To do that, we need your help. Yes you. Chances are that if you haven’t already had to advocate for yourself or your collections you will have to at some point. We’d like your feedback on what we have and what you think might be missing. Please take a few moments and review the Advocacy Toolkit and then go and take our survey available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T9XZ97Y. The survey will be open until THIS MONDAY, 5/16/16. If you have questions about the survey, or thoughts beyond the survey, feel free to contact us at archivesissues@gmail.com.