It is that time of year again, when we all shake off the effects of holiday cookies, champagne, and time with the family to take a sober look at the things we need to improve upon. Hence, the New Year’s Resolutions. Of course I have made the usual list of resolutions this year, such as actually using my gym membership, getting on top of my student loans, and stop challenging people to fist fights when they question my use of the Oxford comma. However, for the first time I have also made a list of professional resolutions. The following are things that I believe I can do to make myself a better archivist as I enter my second year in the profession (thanks to Emi for the idea and help with this post).
I hereby resolve to:
Contribute to Archival Literature I am currently finishing coauthoring an article with one of my recent professors. Working with a person who has experience in the peer-reviewed writing process has been very helpful. The question will be can I do it on my own. I think my writing is strong enough (I can actually write an entire piece without movie references, I just choose not to on this blog). The interest is there too. The challenge will come from budgeting my time wisely enough to sustain the writing and research required for an article. It is one thing to devote time to something through a partnership where you do not want to let the other person down, it is another to make yourself the sole taskmaster. I am already thinking of some topics, so lets hope I can devote the time and write, write, write (not to mention convince someone to publish it).
Keep Learnin’ I think I speak for most recent graduate students when I say that the last thing I want right now is more school. However, I do think professional educational and training opportunities are important. I have been toying with taking a programming, database, or other technical class to compliment my archival education. Some of the SAA courses also look interesting, although some are out of my range. I figure I will start out with short time commitments and inexpensive tuition so I do not conflict with my student loan debt and gym resolutions. No PhD for me yet…
Find Community Service Opportunities During my time in graduate school I participated in the student SAA group’s community service program, where we would go out and lend a hand at several local cultural heritage locations. At first, I expected this to be similar to the type of volunteering that usually happens at archives and libraries. While we did move some boxes and sort some papers, what was surprising to me was that the people who worked at these institutions really desired our archival expertise. Even though we were only grad students, they wanted us to give them advice on a variety of archival topics. One place wanted us to tell them the proper way to merge two large topical files. Another place wanted us to recommend what materials should be separated so she could go to the governing board with reassurances that it was OK to throw away some material. Another wanted help updating their acquisition policy. While I was in school I saw community service as a great way to get your hands dirty and complement all the theoretical learning, not to mention a great resume builder. Now, I see it as a way to help those small or in-need places that could benefit from just an afternoon of advice from a professional (albeit New) archivist. I especially want to look for opportunities in the historically rich city of Detroit. Maybe we can get a group of area charitable archivists together!Thanks to David Zande for the Photo
Well, there you have it. I will try to keep you all posted on my progress throughout the year. Or, if they end up in the same place that I think the gym membership will, I will delete this post in March and never speak of these archival resolutions again…
Happy New Year!
Off Topic Mini-Rant: I wish SAA would offer more online educational and training opportunities. I can afford the class, but can’t afford the travel. I bet a lot of people are in the same boat and would be interested in such offerings. Just a thought.