Last night, I had the honor of being the guest speaker at my local NAPO chapter. The National Organization of Professional Organizers is a diverse group that help people save time and money while aiming to reduce stress through organization. Organizers can help people arrange such things as their thoughts, their closets, their personal financial systems and their personal papers. They help people appraise their items by deciding what to keep and what to toss and how to successfully take charge of their lives. The work that archivists do go hand in hand with the organizers and we would do well to explore the possibilities of collaboration with them to secure our recorded history.
Organizers are in the trenches, so to speak. They get an inside look into personal materials that many archivists never see. While we may be aware that many people have valuable historical records, archivists often have a hard time reaching out to explain this to the public. While we are outsiders trying to abstractly explain why grandma's letters from the war are valuable to posterity, organizers are hands-on. They are sorting and advising the general public about what items they should keep and throw away. They may hold grandma's letters in their hands at a crucial disposal decision moment. We need to make organizers more aware of what archival repositories do so that they can refer clients to us when appropriate, so that we have better access to community documentation and will be better able to collect a full documentary record. At the very least, we can reach out to organizers and encourage their clients to talk to us, so we become aware of materials in homes and have greater knowledge of the extent of historical documentation that exists.
For our part, archivists have a lot to offer organizers in the way of appraisal, organization, and preservation. Last night, I spoke to the Manchester, NH chapter of NAPO and discussed how we place value on records. I talked about the fields of records and archives management and the value of thinking about the record lifecycle. I discussed informational, evidential, and intrinsic value. I talked about the value of original, one of a kind documents. I discussed how archivists place value on organizing collections by record creator. Then I presented basic information about preservation and introduced the storage suppliers archivists use to ensure the safety of our materials.
I am anxious to learn more about the organizers and what they do. Each of the members of the Manchester chapter has a niche and is expert at managing different organizational problems. I'm sure I will glean a lot from their examples and I hope that my fellow archivists will reach out to their local chapters to do the same.
Thank you to all of the women in the NAPO - Greater Manchester chapter who were so welcoming last night! I am energized by your questions, discussions, and enthusiasm!