As I have previously said, my career goals at this point can be summed up in one word: history. I don’t yet know exactly what I want to do or how I’ll get there, but I know it has to involve history. I usually sum this sentiment up by saying I want to work in archives or museums.
A quick glance at the job market has reinforced my impression that archives would be an excellent fit. In particular, the following two jobs leaped out at me:
- Head of Special Collections & Archives at Morehead State University, in Kentucky.
- University Archivist & Records Manager at the Joyner Library of East Carolina University, in Greenville, North Carolina.
The first position, Head of Special Collections & Archives, involves managing the special collections department and providing leadership in terms of the preservation of and access to archival and manuscript collections. The role also involves acting as the records keeper of the university.
In terms of qualifications, a MLIS degree is absolutely required, as is at least 3 years of professional experience, excellent communications skills, and some evidence of continued professional growth. Other desired qualifications include accreditation as a Certified Archivist, experience or coursework in special collections or archives. They also desire knowledge of Encoded Archival Description and manuscript cataloguing, supervisory experience, knowledge of computer programs relating to archives, and a concentration in the humanities, such as Kentucky or Southern history. They also value experience with grant-writing, digital preservation and conservation, and teaching and creative displays.
The second position, University Archivist & Records Manager, involves supervising three other staff members and managing the university archives and records management programs. This would include appraisal and selection of records, management &disposition of non-permanent records, archival management, public services and outreach. The position’s responsibilities would include developing policies on retention of records (electronic records included), working with staff and donors, promoting the programs on campus, providing reference services, and so forth.
The required qualifications for this job are an MLIS, at least 3 years of experience in archives, knowledge of the management of confidential and sensitive records, knowledge of databases, public service experience, knowledge of metadata and encoding, and superior collaborative, interpersonal and written communication skills. Additional desirable qualifications include a second master’s degree in a related field, experience with academic institutions, experience with Archivists’ Toolkit and Aeon, supervisory experience, certification as an archivist or records manager, and experience with public relations, exhibits, and outreach.
In both cases, these are not entry level positions – I would first have to obtain at least 3 years of experience elsewhere, likely more. However, in both cases these positions would also put me in a very good place in terms of both institution and position – the descriptions of the duties involved suggest a hands-on interaction with the physical traces of history that I would find highly enjoyable, and a university archive is an appealing locale, particularly when both of those universities are in the South, which is my area of specialization for my Master’s in History. So essentially when it comes to the question of where these jobs would put me along my career path, the answer would be a very comfortable place that I can imagine myself enjoying for a long time.