Union outreach-A pilgrim’s progress

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As the American labor movement continues on its path toward reorganization and rejuvenation, archivists are challenged to ensure that the organizational, political, and cultural changes labor unions are experiencing are fully documented. This article examines the need for labor archivists to reach out actively to unions and the problems they face in getting their message across-not only to union leadership but also to union members who can benefit from the knowledge of labor’s struggles, triumphs, and defeats. Outreach by labor archivists is vital on three critical fronts: the need to secure union funding in support of labor archival programs; obtaining union cooperation in reviewing and amending obsolete deposit agreements; and coordinating efforts with unions to save the records of closing district and local union offices. Attempting to resolve these outstanding issues, labor archivists are pulled between two distinct institutional cultures (one academic in nature, the other enmeshed in a union bureaucracy) and often have their own labor archival programs compromised by the internal dynamics and politics inherent in administering large academic libraries and unions. If labor archivists are to be successful, they must find their collective voice within the labor movement and establish their relevancy to unions during a period of moment of momentous change and restructuring. Moreover, archivists need to give greater thought to designing and implementing outreach programs that bridge the fundamental disconnectbetween union bureaucracies and the rank and file, and unions and the public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-71
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Archival Organization
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Library and Information Sciences


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