Sunday, October 12, 2014

Societies: Taking Action for Collaboration

Last week, I wrote about the fact that Family History Month is also American Archives Month and, how through the process of stepping out of our comfort zones, Societies can begin to collaborate with those who care for the records the members of our Societies need to fulfill their research needs.

Also, last week, the results of an important preservation survey were published with the help of the Institute of Museum and Library Services which show the critical need for support to small repositories and institutions which care for primary materials. Remember, primary materials are those one-of-a-kind, unique records that don’t exist anywhere else. Please take a few moments to look through this report, as it directly speaks to those records which all of us, at one time or another as genealogists, will need to tell our ancestors' stories. And preservation, whose main purpose is to protect the information that materials hold, is not being adequately funded at many repositories.

(c) 2012 Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana 

Why would this be important to Genealogy Societies? Because this is the other side of the collaboration equation: the ability to understand the needs of those we rely on in order to serve our own needs. By reaching out to local repositories and letting them know that our members care about the records that they maintain and that they want to stay in touch with the stewards of those materials to ensure that the materials are not at risk. And, even more importantly, for us to have the ability to take action when the records are at risk because of the communication between the groups.

Genealogy Societies have the ability to educate their members about the importance of Archives and the materials they hold. Conversely, repositories can help support local genealogy societies by providing information about what societies can do to support researchers. It’s a win-win. But, it does take stepping out of that comfort zone and calling your members to action. This is the perfect month to start down that path.

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