Being an Advocate for the Profession

by Lisa Huntsha, Head Editor, INALJ Sweden

Being an Advocate for the Profession

lisahuntshaAlmost every time I meet a new person and they ask what I do for a living, I am met with the same confused face when I answer: “I’m an archivist.” Then there is a brief moment of awkward silence when I realize that they are struggling to understand what, exactly, that means. This has been happening to me so frequently that I’ve nearly perfected a condensed explanation of what exactly it is that I do and why it is important. But this got me thinking: we should really take every opportunity we get to be an advocate for our profession.

Develop your own “elevator speech.”

Don’t just say what you do, but explain what you do, and why it is important. Spend some time thinking about this and maybe even write it out and practice so that you can confidently articulate why your position and profession matters.

Join or start an advocacy group in your area

Gather other allied professionals who can help develop a strong voice for the profession. Perhaps there is already a local group in your area or student chapter of ALA/SAA on your campus that you can get involved with. Think about ways to raise the visibility of library professionals in your community.

Take every opportunity to promote the value of libraries/archives/museums

Of course, a great opportunity to talk about your work and why it matters is when people ask you what you do for a living, but look for other opportunities in daily conversations to raise awareness for your profession. Go ahead – talk up your profession the next time you are at a loud concert. It doesn’t hurt to bust a few stereotypes here and there. 🙂