Advocating for archives

One of the things that archivists, as a profession, need to get involved with is advocacy – for our own collections, for particular members of the archival community, and for archives in general.  We are currently in the midst of an election campaign in which funding for the arts (and a little bit of culture) is becoming a major concern. We are also seeing quite a bit about copyright reform, with various authors waxing furious over the draft Productivity Commission report, and their interpretation of some of its recommendations (we’ve just missed the submissions date, so I’m hoping it will be extended). While geoblocking is of little concern to us in terms of making our collections available and known, some of the other aspects of the copyright debate are important, particularly any that look at copyright persistence and fair use versus fair dealing.

Both of these issues had an outing today at the Artspeak debate (have a look at #ausvotesarts 0n twitter), at which Senator Mitch Fifield (Liberal), Mark Dreyfus MP (Labor Shadow Minister for the Arts) and Adam Bandt MP (Greens Arts spokesman) were all given opportunities to speak on their party’s vision for the arts in Australia. Of the three, Senator Fifield had the weakest platform, which both Labor and Greens performed strongly. Adam Bandt even mentioned cultural institutions, and the #fundTrove campaign. However, while the GLAM sector was mentioned it was mostly in passing and in general terms, with little lack of clarity about the different components of its makeup.

The GLAM peak bodies in Australia, including the ASA, have put together a seven point plan to enable digital access, and various other bodies, such as the WA Chamber of Arts and Culture are also developing their own lobbying agenda. Read through them, take up those aspects that resonate with you and let your local and Federal representatives know why.

(The other thing you can do is join the ASA, or equivalent where you are, and become involved in the activities. Start small, build up. David Roberts has just put out a call for nominations for positions on the ASA Council…)

(Yes, Angela, the cheque is in the mail).


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Archivist, historian, avid reader

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