What Is an Archives? & What Is the Value of Archives?

What Is an Archives?

The Society of American Archivists compiled a one page “What is an Archives” information sheet, based on a 2003 article by Lee Ann Potter, aimed at the general public. It includes information on the different types of archival repositories as well as the materials that one would find in each.

New England Archivists has compiled a list of questions frequently asked of archivists, along with answers, such as:

  • What is the difference between an Archives and a Library?
  • How do I find out which library or archives has the records I’m looking for?
  • How can I preserve my organization’s records or family papers?
  • How do I donate my family papers to a repository?
What Is the Value of Archives?

ArchivesAWARE is a blog hosted by the Society of American Archivists and managed by the SAA Committee on Public Awareness. It was established in January 2016 to create an online space where professionals and students engaged in all aspects of archival work could share their experiences of and ideas for raising public awareness of archives and the value that archives and archivists add to business, government, education, and society as a whole.

ArchivesINFO is a pretty thorough accounting of why archives are valuable.

A Q&A section on the research value of government archives (pp. 17-23) is included in The role of archives and records management in national information systems: A RAMP study, prepared by James B. Rhoads for UNESCO. It answers questions such as:

  • What special values do archives hold for the government itself?
  • What are the values of archives for non-governmental hives for non-governmental researchers?
  • What stake do individual citizens and non-public organizations have in the retention and availability of archives?
  • Does the individual citizen have a stake in supporting the archives as a place where scholarly and other creative research is conducted?
  • How can the archives promote a sense of national identity?

Greg Sanford, former Archivist for the State of Vermont, wrote this humorous short piece that nicely sums up the value of archives and the archivists.

The Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA) website contains a number of Outreach Information Sheets covering most aspects of the archives profession and archival value.

PEW Internet ProjectHow Libraries Add Value to Communities.

Council of State Archivists (CoSA) publication on “The Importance of State Archives.”

What Is the Value of History?

The History Relevance Campaign’s one-page explanation of The Value of History (Seven Ways It Is Essential) applies also to archives.