Monday, September 11, 2006

This Week's Mailbag

Dear Archivalist:

I am a new archival student and will be getting an internship at Big-Mega-State University. Can you give a rookie a few pointers as I start my new career?
Signed, Newbie Arranger

Dear NA,

Never fear, Newb! Here is your quick guide to getting along with everyone in your new home, and wherever you may go in the future. Remember, collaboration is key, so follow these guidelines to the letter!

1. Food is acceptable everywhere in the archives except actually in boxes on the shelves. Unless that is where you store your candy supply, that is. It's also very important to remember to always give a cut of whatever food you bring into the archives to the archivist and any other staff that he/she deems necessary to placate. This applies to all foods except rice cakes.

2. Never never NEVER use the word 'miscellaneous' in your descriptive efforts: no 'miscellaneous' folders, series, or collections! This word is a constant and nearly indestructible bane of archives, along with silverfish, mold, and library budget cutting committees. If access and description are what we're all about, then why use a term that furthers the cause of neither? This is a lazy and disgusting term, and you should avoid it like you would light beer and unsalted peanuts.

3. Pencils only, please. Pens are for poking, throwing, and finding at the bottom of drawers and bookbags. However, don't let this stop you from getting your institution's name printed on a pen and handing them out by the thousands at that next local/regional/national meeting. Archivists, like most people, love free pens. We just ... can't use them on the job.

4. Hire student employees/interns. They provide a cheap (ideally, free) way to bring your repository up to snuff technologically. As long as you have an endless supply of student workers, you will never have to bother to learn just what the terms 'rss,' 'wiki,' or 'digitization' actually mean.

5. Attend professional conferences. These can be invaluable resources, places where you can learn new techniques, make new friends and visit with old ones, and obtain excellent pointers on resume- and career-building. Quick tip: those camera phone pix from a meeting's closing bash can make excellent job interview blackmail in a few years.

1 comment:

Sports Chic said...

I guess I'm glad you don't have a camera phone.