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The Power of We: Blog Action Day

October 15, 2012

Happy Monday, dear readers! I know, it is odd to get a Waki Librarian post on a Monday, but today is special because it is Blog Action Day. And this year, the theme is “The Power of We.” So today, I’m going to take a little bit of time to discuss how I think the Power of We relates to the archives and the library and how we should be leveraging that power in our work.

If you want to know more about Blog Action Day, please visit the website.

The Power of We, to me, signifies more than the ever-expanding range of social networking tools like Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, etc. that let us update, check-in, and poke others online. Although I think online social networking tools give us the ability to leverage the power of crowds, disperse information during disasters, and coordinate actions, the Power of We that I want to focus on in this post is the power that usually doesn’t grab headlines, but quietly works away and is often only acknowledged much later for the great work being done.

I obviously have a great fondness and profound respect for community archives (my doctoral work is centered on three community archives). This community power is the Power of We that I think can be forgotten in the flashy, latest headlines about some new technology. The people that saved histories that would have otherwise been lost toiled away when no one thought their work was important. They saved stories and materials that are now acknowledged to be priceless to our understanding of many histories. These individuals who came together to create community archives, managed within the community, show the Power of We. It isn’t flashy work; it usually consists of many days of patiently working to sort through materials, arrange them, and describe them so that others can access them. It is work that only people who deeply care about preserving the past because it has bearing on the present and the future could do. And it is this work that can change our very understanding and ultimately how we view each other and our world. To me, the Power of We shown in the community archives is one of the greatest and most overlooked place of power today.

The other Power of We that I think about in relation to archives and libraries is the power of the networks of individuals who work every day to provide the information, help, and support that people need to finish their research projects, to figure out the office on campus they need to call for financial aid support, and to find that perfect book to read on vacation. Archivists and librarians understand the power of people helping others and the importance of preserving the documentary history of the Power of We.

So today, if you see an archivist or librarian, thank them for their work on preserving our past, providing access to present works, and looking forward to our future. Archivists and librarians work without a lot of recognition or praise, but their work enables us to remember and use our knowledge to create the change we want to realize in this world. To me, this is the Power of We and the power of the global network of archivists and librarians.

Because this vast network and power is not as well-known or as well-respected as I think it should be, I believe we need to start leveraging the Power of the archivists and librarians to demonstrate in person, in real life, our valuable contributions and knowledge to the world. It is still in personal relationships and conversations that I believe we can best share our knowledge and increase our influence. It is not enough to say that archivists and librarians are better than Google or try to compete with online social networking platforms, we need to define our niche and share it with others. And to me, our Power of We is in connections and sharing our ability to connect people with the information they need when, where, and how they need it. And it’s about time that archivists and librarians figure out the whole marketing and publicity thing to be able to show that we are vitally important and not peripheral to daily life and work.

So let’s harness the Power of We and start changing the world. We already know we can change a person’s life with right information at the right time, now it’s time to make sure that everyone knows that we do this, every day.

So what do you think of when you hear the phrase, “The Power of We”? I’d love to know in the comments.

Have a wonderful week, dear readers. I’ll be back soon with more. Allons-y!

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