Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Low-Stress Archivist Diet

Catchy title, huh?

Yes, the low stress archivist. How interesting. I wish I could meet this person in the flesh so I could shake his or her hand and learn a few tips. If my feelings on this topics are not obvious yet, they soon will be.

I really don't want to walk down this path, for I can already feel a pinch of tension in my head and the words to express what I'm about to say are bottlenecking somewhere between my head and fingertips. But I will continue. Calmly.

By now I'm sure most readers reading this must have read the article on Yahoo!

[Update: I made a journalism faux-pas here by not summarizing the article for those who had not read the article. Essentially, Yahoo! hotjobs publishes career-related articles. In this one article, the writer wrote about professions that have low stress. Among those listed was Archivist. Let the flood waters rush in.]

Kate over at ArchivesNext blogged about the piece and even scored a scoop of sorts with a blog comment written by the author of the study, Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D (not the author of the article, Vicki Salemi, mind you). Also, Gayle writing on her blog quoted several archivists responding to the article on the SAA listserv.

For the most part, the majority of archivists can agree on the most common stresses, not to mention the stress associated with properly handling them: lack of resources, poor funding, low priority and low visibility, uncooperative senior administration, and the occasional pretentious researcher. These stresses come with the territory, I suppose. All within the realm of possibility between 9 am and 5 pm.

I believe that, while the profession is not by its nature stressful, there are stressful elements and, from my unorthodox experience in the field, some very stressful and unpleasant elements.
  • Contractual employment stress
  • Seeking a full-time permanent position stress
  • Unable to move ahead with career stress
  • Professional identity crisis stress

Now, be honest, how many archivists reading the article yesterday can relate to the above stresses?

There are some who walk into a job and follow a process. Meanwhile, there are those who design the process and leave it for others to follow. Then, there are some who face the familiar on a daily basis, while others face the unknown every single day. There are those who work in teams and accomplish much, and there are those who work solo on projects that require a team but who nonetheless deliver excellent results. There are even a tiny fringe of professionals (yes, mercifully, a tiny group) who pride themselves in being slothful in their full-time permanent position, while there are those who do the work and play by the rules and end up chronically contractually employment.

If your mom or dad or best friend ever told you life was not fair, they were correct.

Now about that low stress archivist diet...

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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.