Job Advertisement Evaluation: Digital Archivist
In many special collections departments, archiving is essential and necessary. By archiving materials, they are systematically bound for the preservation route. Due to recent advancement of technology, we are able to place these materials digitally in electronic form. Many library institutions are digitizing photographs, music, audio files, video files, documents, books, periodicals, charts, and many more to their library’s website or to another database. These materials are made available for the public and staff to use. The shift to the Web affected how one access the information contained within these resources and also changed the duties of those responsible for managing and maintaining these electronic resources. (Albitz, 2002). For this job advertisement evaluation, I will focus on looking at digital archivist positions. These positions mainly deal with converting physical formats into electronic formats for library and public usage.
Most of the job position titles review are listed as ‘digital archivists’, however, there are some positions titled ‘Archivist for Digital Collections’, ‘Archivist and Historian Steward’, and ‘Digital Metadata Systems Librarian’. These positions range from public libraries, academic librarians, and governmental agencies. Even though these job positions spans through different fields and environments, the job requirements are similar in many ways. The most commonly listed skills are that candidates must have strong interpersonal communication skills, project management skills, and strong technology skills. All of these skills are vital and essential functions of a digital archivist. Strong interpersonal is a necessity as communication is important between all colleagues you work with. These positions include team work with both technical and non-technical staff. Project management is an important skill that blends in organization, management, and development of the digitalization process. This keeps with deadlines and goals for the archival project. Candidates must be technologically savvy and be comfortable around new and upcoming technologies. Some of the following technological field of knowledge includes HTML, XML, CSS, and other various softwares. Whether the ads ask for HTML skills, knowledge of scripting languages, the ability to deal with the back-end of the OPAC, the ability to translate library services into the online medium, the ability to troubleshoot basic computer and printer problems, or just a good healthy knowledge of emerging technologies, it has become increasingly important that librarians keep up with technology and have certain basic skills. (Farkas, 2008)
All positions require an American Library Association accredited Master of Library Information Science degree. It also requires work experiences, depending on certain position; it can range from three years to seven years of working experience in a similar field or environment. All of the job advertisements require the individual to have some related work experience in the preservation and archiving field. The Digital Metadata Systems Librarian, they require the individual to have experience working in environments that transitioned from a traditional library to an electronic environment. It seeks applicants that have the abilities to communicate well with non-technical staff. This shows that good communication skills are needed, both externally and internally.
The job requirements say many aspects about the professionals in this area. The people that work as digital archivists has several similar traits, such as being well organized, good communication skills, and very tech savvy with computers and related software and programs. Along the side of communication skills, these professional must have good reading and writing skills. It is a necessary skill needed to communicate with colleagues and to write reports, grants, and proposals for the department. In terms of organization, one should retain good knowledge of data structural standards, such as the following: EAD, Dublin Core, MODS, and PREMIS. This is beneficial when one need to sort and organize metadata into separate categories and systems.
In regards to the computer skills, they are looking for individuals that are up to date with the latest technology, programs, and procedures. For example, for the Archivist for Digital Collections job advertisement, it has preferred qualifications for candidates to be familiar with the Fedora digital repository system. If they know more resources such as Ruby on Rails, MySQL, JQuery, and Catalyst, that is a plus. An individually need to have lots of hands on experience with these software and programs in their previous work environments to get such skills and experience. With that in mind, it seems that individuals with more knowledge of software, databases and programs will benefit more that those with fewer experiences and knowledge in those fields.
On most of the job applications postings, they did specify leadership roles. They did emphasize that these roles are important and essential to the library system’s goals and agendas. These positions are unique in many ways. For the Archivist for Digital Collections job position, they work closely with the Library Director. In which this case, the position acts as a project manager for projects yielding digital collections. They will have the position to propose development, implement and oversight of funded projects. This position also serves as a primary point of contact for faculty requiring assistance managing electronic research materials. For the Digital Archivist position at The New York Public Library’s Manuscript and Archives Division, they serve as the Division’s and the Library’s internal and external representative and authority on issues related to born digital archives. Lastly, the Digital Metadata Systems Librarian takes on a lead role in the physical collection reduction activities, and lead the team tasked with physically removing items from the shelves, moving them to the staging area, and directing placement of items to facilitate metadata changes.
This assignment makes me think about librarianship professionalism in a whole new way. It get to understand and respect what’s needed to get certain jobs done. It requires a lot of skills and knowledge to complete any of their assigned responsibilities. With so many technological changes every year, how can one retain the information when it becomes obsolete in a few years? How can anyone learn so much information, databases, and resources? There is so much stuff one can learn at a given time.
Albitz, Rebecca S. “Electronic Resource Librarians in Academic Libraries: A Position Announcement Analysis, 1996-2001.” Libraries and the Academy, Volume 2, Number 4, October 2002, pp. 589-600
Farkas, Meredith. “Skills for the 21st Century Librarian | Information Wants To Be Free.” Meredith Farkas. N.p., 17 July 2006. Web. 18 Apr. 2012. <http://meredith.wolfwater.com/wordpress/2006/07/17/skills-for-the-21st-century-librarian/>.
Archivist for Digital Collections, Tufts University
Digital Metadata Systems Librarian, Goddard Space Flight Center
Digital Archivist, New York City’s Manuscript and Archives Division
Digital Archivist, East Carolina University
Digital Archivist, The International Monetary Fund