Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Unemployed? Archivists Take Note

Kate Theimer blogging over at ArchivesNext revealed the results of her survey question "Will you be attending SAA this summer?" While the complete results can be viewed on her blog, the majority of respondents (48%) said Yes, they will be attending SAA and that their employer will be paying all or part of the expense.

On the heels of this survey question, Kate is launching another: "Does your job title have the word “archivist” in it?” Be sure to take a few minutes to respond.

Speaking of job titles and jobs, I conducted a survey back in May asking people in the fields of libraries and archives what was their employment status. The results revealed that 66% of respondents had a permanent position with a benefits package.

Now, taking Kate's survey on SAA attendance, which I will categorize in my mind as professional development, and my own survey on employment status, something clear emerges. At least it does for me.

Unemployed and underemployed archivists or other records related professionals should demand more from their future or current employer. First, if having a permanent position is important, then unemployed archivists should seek out permanent positions. I know, there are bills to pay now, but short-term contracts without benefits simply short-change us professionals in the end. As I often remind myself, "Short-term gain, long-term loss."

Second, if professional development and attending conferences are important, then archivists should request and make it clear to employers that professional work is a two-way street. A professional cannot give and give and receive nothing in return. There must be opportunities to learn.

These requests are not pie-in-the-sky unattainable. Hardly. Look at the survey results again (here and here); as small a sample as they were, relatively speaking, they still revealed evidence that permanence and professional development are elements that unemployed and underemployed archivists can no longer set aside.

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about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.