Throughout recorded history, humanity has had a strong instinct to preserve its culture. That instinct continues to grow. Archivists are the professionals that preserve our world’s identity. Their job is to ensure history is recorded and available for future generations.
The primary job of the archivist is to determine the best method of preserving and storing artifacts. These artifacts can be anything from a locket of hair to a famous painting. Archivists preserve and record various kinds of artifacts that are of irreplaceable value. Archivists may work in traditional library settings, but others may experience more exotic settings, including museums and archaeological sites.
Archivists have an obligation to meet as professionals. The American Institute for Conservation has established professional guidelines and standards for archivists. As technology continues to change, so do the guidelines.
One of the archivist’s greatest responsibilities is making sure future generations will be able to access the preserved resources. Archivists preserve the past and the present using available technologies, and these technologies continue to change. Archivists must strive to anticipate technological change by remaining abreast of trends in technology
The world has spent billions of dollars on storage capabilities. Computers can now store terabytes of data. This has created new and exciting avenues for archivists everywhere. With the Internet and the new trends in digital imaging, archivists have also faced a lot of challenges in other areas.
The Internet has provided a great avenue to present artifacts to the world. Thorny issues surrounding the presentation of materials via the Internet include not only the expense of related technology but also copyright abuse and the misuse of material. See also this article about the American Academy of Arts Irving Shapiro Library.
Digital imaging is the process of scanning a print, slide, or object into a computer and storing the electronic copy. There has been an increasing trend in storing artifacts for display using digital imaging technology. One of the largest issues related to this type of storage and retrieval technology is the constant change in technology. The Conservation OnLine website has many articles covering innovative, new trends in archival storage and retrieval.
Employment and Education
Archivists are not limited to working in a library or a museum. There are jobs available in zoos, botanical gardens, government or military settings, private collections, archeological organizations, and research firms. Many archivists also start their own consulting firms and product companies.
There is a growing market in the area of preservation and archives. Employers typically require archivists to have experience in the field. To gain this experience, students work in museums or the archival department in college libraries while earning a degree. If you want to learn more about Art School Scholarships, check out this page.
The majority of employers are seeking an archivist that has an undergraduate degree in history and a Master of Library Science with a concentration in archival studies. Many prefer that archivists have two master’s, preferably one with an archives focus. Only a few schools offer a master’s education in archival studies.
Since few schools offer this degree, some students opt to take special studies after they graduate with their Master of Library Science or MA in History. These studies include workshops, internships, and classes. The Academy of Certified Archivists offers a certification test that is required by several employers.