Let me tell you about something I am not ‘fonds’ of – the word dusty. It makes me irrationally (or perhaps perfectly rationally) angry when I hear it in reference to archives. It makes me especially angry when it is used by the media. Because really – if everything is so darn dusty, then what the hell are we doing as a profession?!
This morning I was driving to work listening to the morning show on CBC Radio 2. I was waiting for the Play It By Year segment so that I could feel superior when I guessed the correct year of the song, when the host decided to play the stereotype game. She was plugging CBC’s new show, From the Vaults, which “is a breathtaking all-access journey into a Canadian treasure that few people have ever seen: The CBC Music Archives. Hosted by Amanda Parris and Tom Power, this series features musical performances and candid interviews, shining a bright light on a remarkable musical story – our own.” LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea for a show. Don’t love the way it was sold this morning. The pièce de résistance was “explore the archive without getting dust on your clothes.” Urgh.
So, I did what any self-respecting millennial would do in this day and age – I tweeted my rage (politely, I think).
I have to say that I was impressed by the immediate response from Raina:
This got me thinking that archivists need to do a better job of calling out stereotypes and educating the public about what we do. It’s why I am part of the Awareness Strategy Taskforce (goodness we sound badass, don’t we?) convened by the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives. The role of the taskforce is to develop a strategy to raise awareness of the profession and of the importance and value of archives. My ultimate goal is to meet a stranger at a party, tell them what I do for a living, and have them know what the hell I am talking about and better yet, value the work that I do! No one is going to magically know unless we tell them. Hopefully our taskforce can come up with some good ways to do that. Stay tuned!
I would love to hear about ways in which you are fighting the stereotypes in our field. In the meantime, I am fired up and ready to take on the word “moist,” cause…yuck.
“The dump crew with dust masks” (City of Vancouver Archives, AM427-S4-F2-: CVA 289-002.470)