Thankful Archivist: 2010

Last year I wrote a post on the things that made my archivist heart thankful. I thought I would recycle that old idea revisit that favorite holiday tradition and update it for 2010. As an archivist, I am thankful for:

Archives that Share One of the projects we are tackling at work is the creation of EAD compliant finding aids. To help facilitate that, we have been working on drafting a finding aid manual to guide our archivists and volunteers. Luckily, there are some great examples out there, like the Finding Aid Style Guide [PDF] from the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library at Duke University; the Processing Guide [DOC] and Tag Set from the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, and the University of Maryland Libraries’ Processing Manual [PDF]. I know that it is easier for larger institutions like these to create such guides as they often have more staff and resources than smaller archives, but the fact that they share the results of their work helps the entire community. If we had to create a manual from scratch, well, I don’t think we would, as we have larger and more pressing projects to deal with. I hope more places follow suit and share things like manuals, policies, and implementations with the community.

Deferment of Student Loans I plan on deferring these suckers until I have time to sit down and hatch an elaborate plan where I fake my own disappearance. I will then live the remainder of my years riding the rails, with only my freedom and whatever fits into my hobo bindle to weigh me down.

Archive Standards Yeah yeah, I know these are uber-boring. In grad school the acronyms all ran together: AACR2, EAD, DACS, OAIS, etc., etc., etc. But now I realize the inherent awesomeness of these things. This is specifically directed to all you students out there. When they start talking about DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard) in your class listen up because it completely kicks ass! I refer to it almost every day as we get our finding aid project off the ground (my only complaint is that it is not online, getting it out there will only increase its value, SAA!). And OAIS (Open Archival Information System)? This thing allows for the conceptualization of everything from what metadata you store and deliver to your freaking technological infrastructure. I dare you to come up with a digital preservation program without it, I dare you! I have no idea who works on these things. I am assuming they toil away in a dark room somewhere, and when they do get a break they speak in some kind of xml tagged language or draw a model explaining what they want for dinner. I for one thank them, as we are all better for their work.

A Job My first job out of school was grant-funded and expired at the end of this past summer. My wife and I wanted to stay in Michigan, and then she got a job in Ann Arbor (because she is awesome), meaning I needed to find something in the area too. This was daunting (hard to find employment to begin with, really hard in Michigan). However, I was able to land a job as a digital project archivist in the archive of The Henry Ford. Followers of this blog know I do not usually talk about work specifically, but I will say that this job feels like a perfect fit for me. It is just what I want to be doing.

I have been working on a post with more detail on my job hunt. I have been working on this post now for almost three months. I am obviously having a very difficult time with it. I think the big reason for my troubles is that the job hunt can be so humiliating sometimes. Even though it worked out better than I could have hoped for and I have a job I really like, I just do not like to reflect all that much on the disappointments of the search. Personal disappointments because of positions I did not receive but more than that, disappointments in how some in the profession treat applicants. But this is a positive post, so I will leave this for another time..

I am now off to gorge myself on more deviled eggs, and wonder what I did to have so much to be thankful for…

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs are Still Freakin' Awesome

Deviled Eggs image courtesy of Flickr member csharrisonphoto / CC-BY-SA

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3 Comments

Filed under By-Lance

3 responses to “Thankful Archivist: 2010

  1. Pingback: Thankful Archivist: 2010 | After Today News

  2. Robert DeCandido

    Lance, I’m thankful for you post. Especially the part about standards. I teach a course in digital preservation to librarians-in-training who are specializing in archives. I’ve been throwing acronyms at them all semester and especially OAIS. I’m going to direct them to your blog so they can see it’s not just me that thinks these things are important–necessary even.

    Since you’ve got a Darth obsession you may want to check out Darth Libris (Jerome McDonough) on LJ. He invented METS. You’ll see that he, for one, doesn’t talk XML and is a very cool guy.

    • Lance

      Thanks for the kind comment, Robert. I know from experience that acronyms and standards, especially one as dense as OAIS, can be hard to absorb as a student. But I have also seen how it helped me in my work at at two very different institutions. However, I will put a disclaimer out there to any of your students who may be reading: I do not endorse the awesomeness off all standards. I think some of them are too hard to use and should be put to pasture (*cough* MARC *cough*).

      And thanks for the Darth Libris recommend, I will be sure to check that out!