Category Archives: By-Lance

Blooms Among the LAMs: Early‐Career Professionals and Cross‐Pollination between Libraries, Archives, and Museums

This post was co-authored by Lance of NewArchivist and Audra Eagle, author of the Touchable Archives blog, on which this post also appears.

As the lines between libraries, archives, and museums continue to blur and professional identities become less and less concrete, a question arises on how to best foster collaboration and knowledge‐building between these sectors. In some regards, this question is even more profound for new professionals. In graduate school, there are opportunities to take classes in other disciplines or even specialize in multiple areas. Is this type of education actually bringing together the best of the theory and practice of these disciplines, or merely teaching library skills in one class and archives skills in another?

Furthermore, it can be difficult for new professionals to know which of these identities belong to them. For example, what if you are a graduate of an archives program, working in a library setting, and putting together a few online and physical object exhibits? What are you? What professional organizations do you belong to and what journals do you read? Being new (and most likely carrying a mountain of education debt), we probably have to choose between the SAA, ALA, or AAM annual meetings.

Where does one look to learn more about the issues and opportunities surrounding the convergence of libraries, archives, and museums? Is there something out there for new professionals interested in cross‐discipline topics and fostering collaboration? If not, what types of groups would suit our needs? The purpose of this post is to solicit answers to some of these questions.

A Little History
The Joint Committee on Archives, Libraries, and Museums (CALM) was established by the American Library Association (ALA) Executive Board in 1970 as a partnership between the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and ALA, with the American Association of Museums (AAM) joining in January 2003. An in‐depth history can be found on the ALA website. The committee consists of fifteen members, five from each organization, as well as three co‐chairs from each organization. There are also staff liaisons and sometimes interns (mostly from ALAbut the committee is largely made up of experienced and well‐known archivists, librarians, and museum professionals. It is clear from the official functions of CALM that it is an administrative, high‐level committee that fosters communication between these three large organizations.
CALM’s official function is to:

(1) foster and develop ways and means of effecting closer cooperation among the organizations; (2) encourage the establishment of common standards; (3) undertake such activities as are assigned to the committee by one or more of its parent bodies; (4) initiate programs of a relevant and timely nature at the annual meetings of one or more parent bodies either through direct Combined Committee sponsorship or by forwarding particular program plans to the appropriate unit or on or more parent bodies for action; and (5) refer matters of concern to appropriate units of one or more of the parent bodies.

Both of us had never heard of CALM as graduate students. It was not until Audra was selected to be a part of the 2009 class of ALA Emerging Leaders that she was introduced to the committee and its priorities. (In case you’re curious, the 2008 EL class created a wiki for LAM (libraries, archives, and museums)‐related issues, which the 2009 EL class updated and supplemented with a del.icio.us page, and the 2010 EL class is working on a podcast series for LAM‐related issues.) CALM was born as a policy‐based group of representatives from SAA, AAM, and ALA. Their willingness to work with ALA’s Emerging Leaders program seems to demonstrate an interest in the ideas of early‐career professionals.

There is potential for CALM to become a major vehicle for encouraging discussion and scholarship about LAM convergence. The OCLC‐related hangingtogether blog as well as the new IMLSUpNext wiki present opportunities for discussion and debate around LAM issues.

A Call for Ideas
So other than getting involved with the big OCLC working groups and the super‐committee known as CALM, what opportunities are there for early‐career librarians, archivists, and museum professionals to be a part of the convergence of libraries, archives, and museums? Where is the “Emerging Leaders” program for new/young professionals who think and work between the LAMs?

Convergence is an exciting thing. How does this generation of new professionals understand and interact with it? That is what we are asking you. When we were first discussing this idea, we thought that an informal type of group focusing on these issues would be a good start. Perhaps it could have an online access component to foster collaboration and not require travel. We need your help and ideas on filling out this idea and make it into something tangible and usable for us new information professionals. Please leave comments or email us at lam_ideas@newarchivist.com to let us know what you think!

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The Job Post

As followers of this blog know, getting a job in the archival field is something that we touch upon often, most notably in our From The Trenches series. However, to this point we have not had a post focused on getting an archives job. In my case, I have been hesitant to write such a post because I figured that people would say: thanks for the advice, Mr. Only-Had-A-Real-Job-For-Like-A-Year. However, my attitude changed last week. After reading a series of messages on the A&A listserv regarding the state of the job market, I asked the Twitter machine if others felt that the market was that bleak. Once again the archivists on Twitter did not disappoint and gave me some great insight and inspired this post.

As way of disclaimer, I am not saying that the things discussed here are guaranteed to get you a job. I am also not trying to blow sunshine up anyone’s petticoat. I was lucky in that I had an archives job lined up right after grad school. But in my previous career I endured an unemployment period that lasted over a year. It sucked… hard. If you are currently going through such a period, I hope that hearing some successful stories helps.

Grad School is Key, but not the School Part The job hunt should start from the first day of grad school. I don’t mean start looking the first day, but you should immediately start thinking about building a resume and carving an area of interest for yourself. As twitterer Jess M said: “I think we can make niches for ourselves.” School is great and you learn a lot. However, I found that the best way to carve those niches were the experiences I gained outside the classroom. Use the fact that you are going to grad school as a ticket into places that will help build your skills and allow you to meet people who will be helpful in your career. Four of the five NewArchivist regular contributors currently have jobs that are in, or connected to, places they had contact with while in school. In my case, I did an unpaid part-time internship between my first and second year at the organization where I am currently employed. Many of my classmates are currently placed where they did some sort of volunteering, internship, or part-time employment. If you want a job at a specific location or institution, then try your best to get some kind of experience there. You still have to be lucky in that a position will need to open at the right time, but being there to take advantage of that luck is half the battle.

Volunteering Often the type of experiences outlined above can only come in the form of free labor, be it volunteering or unpaid internships. During the listserv discussion, the importance of volunteering was mentioned several times. It has also been written about on this blog by Sophie and D.S. On Twitter, Megan summed it up: “Best advice I can give is to throw yourself out there. Volunteer, be involved with prof organizations, go back to school, etc. I wish I did more of this when I first started. [F]our years ago, but I was shy, nervous, etc. Once I started to put myself out there, my job prospects seem to be going up.” My advice is make sure you get something tangible out of volunteering, whether it be employment contacts, specific skills, or even a measure of confidence. In lieu of money, “employers” should be willing to give you their time and offer things like advice and resume reviews. If they are not willing to commit to this up front, I would probably not be willing to give them my labor.

The fact that unpaid experiences help in getting a job is, well, a fact something I am pretty sure of. However, I also think making unpaid experience a gateway to the profession is deeply troubling. Some of the comments on Sophie’s latest post summarize that view perfectly. The idea that we have to go to grad school and then serve a kind of apprenticeship is, in my opinion, outdated and elitist. Also, how can we say that we are concerned with diversifying our profession while at the same time saying mountains of educational debt and time served in non-professional positions are entry fees to a career? I dont have an answer to this paradox, but I do think that this will be up to our generation of professionals to solve. When we are in positions of power, will we continue to use volunteering as a litmus test? I hope we can come up with something better.

An archivist, you will be...

An archivist, you will be...

The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Lucasfilm

“Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny” While Yoda was talking about the ultimate battle between good and evil here, this advice can also be applied to career direction. Some on the listserv suggested diversifying your skills with things like records management to make yourself marketable in areas other than archives. Based on my limited experiences and talking to seasoned professionals, I strongly disagree with that advice. It is one thing if you genuinely want to explore different paths like librarianship or records management. But if you goal is ultimately getting a job in the archival field, it is hard to argue that a job in another area will give you skills to compete for those archival jobs, now or in the future. Yes, it would be employment and I know that we all have to do what we have to do to pay our bills. However, didn’t we all choose this low paying, low glamor career so we can follow our passion? I am not saying only take a perfect job out of school, none of us have that opportunity. But be certain that the job you do take will help get you where you want to go. If you want to be a records manager, be one, if you want to be a librarian, be one, and if you want to be an archivist, than be an archivist. Otherwise you may wake up one day shouting nooooooooooooooo!

Never Forget This might be a little out of place in this post, but I feel the need to say it anyway. As we move along in our profession, lets never forget what it is like to look for employment. So far my job hunting experiences in the archives field have been very good, but I have heard stories. In my previous period of unemployment, I was always shocked at how soon people forgot what it was like to look for a job. The stress, the limbo, the effort involved. I cringe when I hear people give weird or silly reasons to not consider an applicant. I am not saying consider people for employment that show up to interviews wearing a damn seagulls hat. I am asking that we remember that each application and resume represents a person that can add to our profession and deserves respect. And when we see others in our profession doing otherwise, we call them out.

This is just the tip of this iceberg and we at NewArchivist will be posting a lot more on this topic in the future. If you have other tips or opinions, please leave them in the comments or let me know and we would gladly welcome a guest post. You also should checkout the blog That elusive archives job, which focuses on getting an archives job. And most importantly, if you are currently looking, know that there are a lot of people in your corner, and good luck!

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I am Resolute [I think]

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!

Lauren Lippert working hard during a visit to the Canton Historical Society in Canton, Michigan

Lauren Lippert working hard during a visit to the Canton Historical Society in Canton, Michigan

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.

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Thankful Archivist

My Thanksgiving usually is comprised of gorging myself on deviled eggs, watching football, and taking crap from the Buckeye wing of the family, again… *sadness filled pause*

Anyway, besides the usual thankfulness of health, happiness, a wonderful family, and a spouse who likes college hockey, this year I will be adding things that have either helped in my budding career, or that helps our profession. Here are some highlights:

Open Source Software and Freeware OK, I know this is an geeky way to begin my list, but it is true. The computer on which I am currently typing also has local installations of Archivist’s Toolkit, Drupal, WordPress, and Apache. I know that open source is not necessarily free because of the learning curve involved, and sometimes it can be kind of frustrating being on your own. However, I love the fact that I can download these tools and play with them. Imagine if we had to go to Microsoft or some other vendor for all of this stuff. I am hoping soon to make the switch to Open Office, and maybe even a Linux based system as well (perhaps it will run on a solar powered machine made of granola and hemp).

The National Treasure Franchise Yes, the Nicolas Cage character is not an archivist and there are several things in that movie that made us all cringe, but let me tell you a story. The first movie was released to video at about the same time I did a short internship at NARA. I watched the video with my then 6 and 10 year old nephews and offhandedly mentioned that I was just at the National Archives. The six year old asked me if my job was like what Nicolas Cage’s character does in the movie. As I pondered my answer, I first looked at the TV, on which Nicolas Cage was rolling the Declaration up like a Bon Jovi poster and partaking in some witty banter with the beautiful conservator. I then looked at my nephew, who was waiting for my answer, his trusting eyes looking at me with anticipation. I said: “Yes, yes it is.” I will continue this lie until he is old enough to understand that the truth of what Uncle Lance does is actually as cool as the lie. So, despite the bad preservation practice and historical inaccuracies, anything that makes me look cool and puts butts in the seats at the National Archives is alright by me. Besides, if you are going to misrepresent what an archivist does, it could be worse (before I get sucked into the debate on the preceding clip, I refer you to Derangement and Description, whose take on this matter is spot on).

Grad School Cohort/Twitter Before I went to grad school, a friend of mine, whose wife earned a MBA a couple of years earlier, told me that my grad school cohort will become quite important to me. Well, Chris from New Jersey was right. Even though I am older than most of my former classmates (that is why this blog is called NewArchivist, not YoungArchivist), they have proved to be an invaluable help to me by providing a place to ask “dumb” questions and vent about the common frustrations of a new professional. I see the group of archivists on Twitter as a similar type of resource. While Twitter interaction obviously lacks the face to face element (and you run the chance of broadcasting your ignorance to the world), where else do you have an opportunity to communicate with archivists from all different locations, expertise, and experiences (without having to risk getting mired in #thatdarnlistserv)? I do not get a chance to contribute as much as I would like on Twitter, but I hope to increase my participation in the future and help add my small part to that discussion.

Well, there is a sampling. Please feel free to add some of your thankfulness to the comment section, and happy Thanksgiving from all of us at NewArchivist!

Deviled Eggs are Freakin' Awesome

Deviled Eggs are Freakin' Awesome

Egg image courtesy of Flickr member crowdive / CC-BY-NC-SA

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Three Things I Didn’t Learn in Archives School

First off, I am sorry for the delay in getting fresh material posted, we will be more regular in the future. Thanks to Angelique for reminding us that there are actually people reading this blog, who knew? ~ed.

I have been in my position now for almost nine months, part time from January to my graduation in May, and full time since then. Below I discuss the three biggest things I have learned on the job. Now, this post is not a complaint about my education, I think that these are inherently things that you learn on the job. There is also a distinct possibility that they actually did come up in school and I was not paying attention. On to the list:

3. Technology I think that most archives students in my program are pretty happy with the technological education that we received. I was not very fluent in technology and now I feel that I can converse freely in tech-talk. However, I also feel that perhaps I should have pushed myself harder in that area. Wouldn’t it be great if I had mad programming-skills? Let me answer that rhetorical question with a resounding yes. While I do not want to be a programmer or a IT person, I do think that a more solid base in the area would help me better understand what is required to implement things like digital repository software or other technological solutions. Even in a large organization like where I work, the more skills in this area would help me better communicate to the IT and programming people.

I will continue to work on these skills, both in the class room, on the job, and in everyday life (like, oh I don’t know, working to keep this blog going). The first few months of my employment have shown me that it is very important to keep up with these things. If nothing else, it will help me boost my nerd quotient.

2. Money This may be to be chalked up to complete and total naivety on my part, but I am really surprised how much the question of funding creeps into conversations, both at work and with fellow archivists. At school, we did not talk much about it, but I see that in the real world so much runs on costs and benefits. I think the question of money also goes beyond finding funding to sustain programs, staff, and projects. It seems that striking a balance between the public service orientation of most of our institutions and the real need to make business cases for the projects we undertake is an essential, and at the same time difficult, facet of our professional duties.

For example, I know that there is a frequently reoccurring discussion on the A&A listserv surrounding access. These discussions often outline the tension between access and the need to fund things like digitization efforts. I strongly agree with the assertion that archives have a responsibility to promote as much access as possible and should not exert additional controls, such as fees for high resolution images, on materials. However, I am also not as quick as some on the listserv to label archives that are charging fees as being in the wrong. These decisions must be difficult, and I am starting to realize that, no matter how much we archivist are not about the money, much of what we do requires it. Often that requires a compromise between the ideal and the possible. Note: I was going to make the last link go to that “show me the money” clip, but there is something unsettling about Tom Cruse yelling, unless it is in this.

1. The Management of People This is the big one for me and the thing that got me thinking about writing a post like this. I supervise student employees as part of my duties, as well as, obviously, work with a variety of people throughout my day. My dad, who was a human resources manager for a time, told me once that managing people was the most difficult thing he has ever done. Now, being a rebellious teenager at the time (well, as rebellious as a future archivist and lover of all things Star Wars can be), I thought to myself “How hard can it be?” The answer is: very. I think I am good at it, but it certainly takes much more of my day than I had expected. For me, the stress comes from the fact that I want to make sure that we produce top-quality deliverables and are rigorous in our research, without me coming off like:

Excellent

Excellent

The Simpsons 20th Century Fox Television

So, I have a strategy on how to make myself a better boss/employee/dude-that-people-work-with. I have taken a managers class offered through the university. This was very helpful, especially in the area of how to communicate better (and there was a lunch provided). I have also had several people recommend the book Crucial Confrontations, which has apparently spawned some workshops as well. While it does not really fall into the topics I usually read, I am willing to check it out. Mostly, I want to learn more from my mentors and, as I gain more experience, hopefully become a manager that can help successfully guide a team, without being the kind of boss that everyone (including me) hates.

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My First SAA Conference: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Since we were in hot and steamy Texas for the SAA conference, I thought I would have a Western theme to this post. Enjoy!

The Good: “Bringing it Together” Part of my excitement in attending the conference was to see if I could make connections from my time as a student to a professional. Some of the sessions did not disappoint. My favorite session, for this reason, was session 104 on archives and web 2.0 (see the SAA facebook page for videos of session 104 and more, nice job SAA!). Even though this really was not the most applicable session to my professional position, it was great in that it addressed how the profession can handle a topic that I was first introduced to in grad-school. Every professor I had, at one point or another, stated that archives had to do a better job being transparent. If I may go all postmodern on you for a second, transparency was identified as a way to address the notion that all human endeavor is biased in some way or another. If we cannot remove bias, we can at least be transparent in our decisions so future generations know where we were coming from. The first presenter in session 104, Angela McClendon Ossar, identified web 2.0 technology as a way to bring transparency to archival appraisal and processing. By blogging and tweeting, the archive can shed light on the black box. I thought this was a wonderful practical solution to a theoretical problem posed in the classroom. Awesome job!

There was also a surprising amount of good archive talk at the social activities I attended. While I guess it could be considered shoptalk, it was great to hear from working archivists. Whether it was a discussion of the meaning of records with some classmates fellow alums over $2 Lone Stars, or discussing how to appraise records based on documentation strategy over a sassy pinot grigio, I saw that every time a group of archivists gather it is another opportunity to learn something about the field. Note: all booze was consumed after the workday and not in excess, in case any people who could fire me, hire me, or are married to me, are reading this post.

Overall, I was very impressed how generous archivists are with their time and how willing they are to discuss things with someone new to the field. I am very excited to be in a profession where people are so clearly passionate about what they do and willing to lend a helping hand to others.

The Bad: “Why Are We Not Past This Yet?” While some of the sessions were great and really taught me a lot, some of them made me wonder why we were still talking about certain things as a profession. My example for this is session 501, whose official title was “More Product, Less Process Revisited: Choosing the Right Processing Strategy for Your Repository and Collections.” That sounds interesting, right? Well, in my opinion, the actual content of this session probably did little to help people choose a processing strategy, but rather “revisited” the type of debate that must have occurred when Greene and Meissner first published their article in 2005. Two members of the panel stated concerns regarding MPLP, including fears that widespread misuse of minimal processing will lead to the alienation our users, will make archivists irrelevant, and cause the McDonald’s-ization (yes, I just made up that word) of the profession. Update: OK, so apparently I did not make up McDonaldization. I guess I will have to Google words that I think I made up before I publicly claim that I made them up. HT to Angela McClendon Ossar.

You are not removing staples? Nooooooo!!!!

You are not removing staples? Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!

Image courtesy of Flickr member sparktography / CC-BY-NC

Now, this type of misuse of minimal process would be very disconcerting if it were not for the fact that, as far as I could tell, the evidence of misuse lies in anecdotal stories related during conferences and that SAA offers a workshop on MPLP. Um… really? It seems to me that we should have moved past a debate discussing the theoretical (and not to mention false) choice between “complete processing” and “minimal processing.” Is it not the reality that most archivists are adapting several different types of processing to accommodate the wide ranging and wonderful diversity among our archival institutions? I am not saying that there is not a place for a reasoned and rational debate on MPLP, or any archival issue for that matter. I am saying we should have that debate with facts in hand, and be a bit more aware of what is going on in the archival-streets (yes, I just made up that phrase).

In addition to MPLP, I feel there are other topics that we need to move beyond the acceptance phase. These topics range from user involvement, digital record management, and digital preservation. These are no longer new or radical concepts, and we should be talking about how to harness them, not engage in unhelpful hyperbolic claims that they are scary, unwanted, or cataclysmic to the profession.

Update: There seems to be a very interesting and relevant discussion brewing on the A&A, started by Kate Cruikshank of Indiana University, focusing on examples of how archivists are implementing minimal processing in their institutions, and a very informative post on ArchivesNext by Kate Theimer and Dan Santamaria. Nice work! There will also be a section dealing with MPLP in an upcoming issue of American Archivist, let’s hope this adds to the discussion.

The Ugly: “I am Freakin’ Tired” Archives is a second profession for me, my former profession being in the culinary field. I would come home from being in a kitchen all day bone-tired. While at the end of the day at SAA I did not smell of burnt grease, I was as tired as I was in any day in the kitchen. Not that I thought it would be all giggles and cupcakes (yep, made that one up too), but since I was out of my cubicle and pretty much on my own, I thought there would be a certain relaxation factor. Yeah, not so much. It is hard being “on” for that long of a time. I think my condition at the end of the week was similar to the condition of my name badge at the end of the week: worn out, misshapen, and mildly inappropriate…

Last longer... get it?

Last longer... get it?

Final Verdict: I will see you at SAA 2010, baby!!

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Postcard from Austin: Rainbows and Research

I will give a full recap of the conference when I return, but I wanted to give our loyal readers (yes, all three of you) some of my initial impressions.

I flew to Austin from Michigan on Sunday afternoon. I do not love flying, something about being packed in a metal tube with strangers thousands of feet in the air rubs me the wrong way. Added to that was the fact that is was like, 136 degrees in Austin. I was a touch grumpy upon arrival. But after I settled in, I saw this from my hotel window:

Rainbow Over Austin

Rainbow Over Austin

My grumpiness mellowed and my excitement returned as I hoped this was a portent to my week.

Research I have been pretty busy the first three days of the conference, sitting in on the Research Skills workshop on Monday and helping with logistics (which included frowning very hard at the hotel A-V dude) for the Research Forum on Tuesday. I liked the presentations from the Forum. It was a good mix of academic researchers and what I guess you would call “working practitioners.” I really like the attitude from some of the presenters that saw a problem, researched and developed a solution, all without the need for a grant or years of testing and development.

I also enjoyed meeting the people I had been communicating with via email over the past couple of months for the Forum. I was busy enough that I did not get to meet all of them, but I had some very good conversations nonetheless. It was great to meet people not from SI at Michigan (no offense, SI) that are working in different places and specializations. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am not good at the networking thing and my previous correspondence with these folks gave me a great opportunity to approach and talk to them. Although I still have not collected any business cards…

Austin is Twitter-tastic I have been on Twitter for about five months now, and @TheNewArchivist has been on only a couple of weeks. I came to be a serious follower of people in the archives world during the last A&A listserv meltdown (if you don’t know what I am talking about, see the great post at Beaver Archivist). However, I did not realize that Twitter has such a robust archive community until this week. People have been great about helping others (like me who wondered where the Hell I was going to eat dinner) and give surprisingly rich details coming from the sessions and events I have not been able to attend. Not to mention, made us NewArchivists feel very welcome (a special shout out to @archivesnext for that).

Biggest Surprise So Far: I was so looking forward to the conference, that I was almost looking at it as a kind of getaway. Nope. All this fancy learnin’ is hard and I am beat at the end of the day.

More to come next week…

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Austin, Here I Come

Next week will be my first SAA conference. Actually, it will be my first professional conference of any kind. I wish I could say something cool and cynical like “You know, I am just going for the beef brisket,” but I can’t. Truth is, I am really looking forward to it. In fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, my excitement level goes to 11.

Here are some reasons why:

1) Archivists, archivists, archivists I cannot wait to be immersed in a large group comprised almost solely of professional archivists and records managers. This is partly because I think it will give me a feeling of “I am now truly an archivist.” My wife put this into words the best when she said I am excited for the conference because I “will be around people who use the same terms and know the same acronyms, and will get your nerdy jokes.”

2) The continuing education of Lance I am looking forward to continuing my education outside of the formal school setting. My MSI program gave me some great tools, but I now want to see what professionals in the field have to say about the topics we learned in school. For me, digital preservation and web 2.0 technologies hold a special interest and I will be attending several sessions on those topics. Will they reinforce what I learned in school, or is the view different from the “trenches?”

3) Professional Engagement I will also be doing stuff at the conference that will provide me with several opportunities for shameless self-promotion to engage with other professionals. I have been providing some logistical support for the Research Forum, which will take place on Tuesday the 11th. This will feature posters and presentations highlighting research in the field. I have had a chance to see the proposals and the presentation look very interesting, I am sure I will get a lot out of it. Also, I will be presenting at the student poster sessions on a disaster planning internship I had last summer at ICPSR. I think these activities will help me meet more people, as I am absolutely terrible at networking. My awkward attempts at handing out my business cards are always good for a laugh or two.

Will not leave Texas without eating something resembling this!

Image courtesy of Flickr member athomson / CC-BY-SA

4) Austin I have only been to Texas once and it was a while ago with the family. I am really looking forward to exploring the city and seeing how Texas does a college town. I joked earlier about going just for the brisket, but I do plan on seeing what all the fuss is about, as well as checking out as much as I can of Austin (excepting the bats, not cool). The extras like going to a baseball game and attending the gathering for Michigan alumni will round out the social aspects of the trip [apparently there will be no Michigan reception, booooo ~ ed.]. By the way, for those also going to the conference, I have found the Austin Is for Archivists blog very helpful.

5) #saa09 I plan on going nuts with the web 2.0 at the conference. Hopefully, I will have time for some short posts here. I will definitely make time for numerous tweets from both my Twitter and TheNewArchivist Twitter as well.

There you have it. Like I said, I hope to add some more from the conference, but even if I don’t get a chance, I will write a post-conference-post and tell you if it lived up to my exciting expectations. Oh yeah, I will also give my review of Texas BBQed beef brisket.

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It’s Alive, it’s Alive!!!!!

Let’s start our blog with some sweet embedding skills and a touch of blasphemy ~ed.


Frankenstein (1931) Universal Pictures

Look Mom, we’re blogging Welcome to the first official post of the NewArchivist. We intend to structure this blog in a style similar to the great library blogs In the Library with the Lead Pipe and Library Garden. As such, this blog is a collaborative effort, with four Regular Contributors and, hopefully, several guest contributors and many more commentators and readers. The Regular Contributors are all recent archives and records management graduates of the School of Information at the University of Michigan. Our aim is to write on issues that interest us, from the perspective of archivists that are new to the profession (hence the New in NewArchivist). Feel free to read more about the Regular Contributors or our hopes for the NewArchivist.

Discuss What, Exactly? Everything! Well… maybe not everything, but we do want to discuss things that are important and interesting to us as professionals. We see each post taking one of two directions, either a post that is authored by a single Regular Contributor, or we get together and all “discuss” a topic in a longer essay. In both of these formats, please remember that each author is expressing their own opinion, as we are bound to disagree with each other on many things (but we hope that is where some of the fun will come in).

This is Where You Come In, Gentle Reader NewArchivist needs you to survive. Not only as readers but as commenters and guest contributors. So, please use the comment section and contact us if you have any ideas for a post, want to contribute, or want to tell us we are filled with awesome.

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