Funbag 1: Professional Advocacy

To continue our last meetings open forum discussion online, here is the first of several posts.

Question(s): What is behind the disturbing trend of archival jobs being advertised that on the one hand demand the training and experience of a professional, but also have the minimum qualifications and low salaries customary to a paraprofessional position?

Combined with the prevalence of part-time and temporary jobs, how do we assess what is happening to our profession? Is this a temporary symptom of a struggling economy or something deeper?

Why do our librarian colleagues with similar skills and training seem to fare better in the marketplace? Is their profession more effective at advocating for their value simply because it is larger or is that no excuse for the disparity between us? Is there nothing more archivists can do collectively to bolster our profession?

Discussion Starter:  I can’t imagine a good explanation that will be of any consolation. I know archives is not the only field struggling and no, I don’t expect that makes it any better if you are frustrated and looking for work. I also am not so sure that librarians are faring much better, but that’s besides the point. I think the most important question is the last one: what can we do?

Lisa Huntsha has written an article giving some good advice “Being an Advocate for the Profession” she suggests:

  • Develop your own “elevator speech.”

  • Join or start an advocacy group in your area

  • Take every opportunity to promote the value of libraries/archives/museums

Additionally I think it’s important to Regularly Communicate with Decision-Makers! Decision makers include people at institutions who can create new positions, help advocate for one another for the creation of new jobs and offer input about what the job qualifications and requirements should be. Be patient and positive but persistent. It may take a while for a new position to go through, but don’t give up on it.

If you have helpful insight into these issues, please share and discuss in comments!


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