Archives Month Philly (AMP) is a month-long city-wide festival. Yes, you read that right. Month-long and city-wide. (I only put up a Archives Month poster last year, does that count?) AMP focuses on educating the wider community about local archives through public programming and exhibitions. Since 2013, AMP has held over 100 events at more than 60 participating institutions in the Philadelphia area. In 2017, they had more than 500 event attendees throughout October.
AMP’s lead organizers gave an overview of planning individual events and coordinating multi-institutional partnerships. Such as Nerd Nite Philly, where archivists take over the popular bar-based monthly lecture series. Or the Philadelphia Lantern Slide Salon that showcased glass lantern slides from the special collections of several Philadelphia institutions projected from an historic lantern projector in the Wagner’s Victorian-era lecture hall. Speakers shared suggestions and words of caution. They shared their website, https://archivesmonthphilly.com, where you can further explore the different kinds of events they have done in the past.
Some of the main organizing principles takeaways shared were to plan events for the general public. In order to expose new people to the archives, you have to meet them where they are at, such as a bar for Nerd Nite Philly. Even if your institution cannot host an event, you can partner up with one that can. This multi-institutional events has the potential to lead to partnerships. It helps to build relationships with other archivists in your area.
Some tips for success:
Start planning early: Planning early is especially important if you are part of a large institution and you need to go through the bureaucracy to get things approved. Or if you need buy-in to do something your institution had never done before. One presenter mentioned, how she had to explain that this wasn’t an event for other archivists but for the general public and selling that idea took sometime.
You’re only as strong as your planning team: Since AMP is completely volunteer based, having an active engaged team is important. Holding team members accountable to assigned tasks helps to get things done. But also keeping it light and informal helps to keep people engaged.
Mobilize your community: Outreach is the key to planning an event. It’s important to get the word out via social media. Reaching out to colleagues, who in turn reach out to their connections helps to spread the word of your event. Getting your event on local event calendars and blogs is also helpful.
Keep it fun: When it comes down to it, have fun and keep it fun. Planning for a month long festival can be stressful but it should be fun.
Session attendees broke into small groups to brainstorm creative ideas and planning their own events for Archives Month this October. I was super pumped and excited to hear about all the cool things AMP had accomplished and it was great to break out into the sessions and to brainstorm. I walked away with a lot of great ideas and Monday morning I will be sending an email to the powers that be to get the ball rolling on some of them.
Karolina Lewandowska, M.A., M.L.I.S.
Naval History & Heritage Command