posted March 23, 2014 12:14 PM by Gemma Doyle
This week the New England Archivists held their spring meeting in Portsmouth, NH, and I (and a good portion of my archives classmates) were in attendance. This was actually my first professional conference, and I went to see and hear professionals in the archives community talk about their jobs, the current state of the archives field, and of course, a decent dose of networking, networking, and more networking. (I am terrible at networking, and would generally rather rip out my own tongue than talk to a complete stranger, but I went into the conference knowing that I would have to do exactly that at least once because it was an assignment for my LIS440 class. Let the record show that I did manage to talk to one stranger and did not die as a result, so I think I may be a better person for the experience.) (Let the record also show that one stranger was exactly how many I talked to, so... baby steps.)
The thing about the archives field is that it is incredibly diverse in terms of both the types of archives institutions that exist and the types of archiving jobs within those institutions. The two internships that archives concentrators take in GSLIS give us a taste of that diversity, but professional organizations and conferences like the NEA really drive the point home. The highest points of the conference for me were presentations that helped me see sides of archiving I'd never considered before: a talk by international archivists about how archives work in their countries on Saturday and a talk about using a buttonmaker to do outreach on campus and in the community for a college archive on Friday. (The picture is of the buttonmaker, which they pulled out after the talk to let people play with - I need to learn how to take decent photos with my phone.) As someone who used to work with teens in a public library, I'm very familiar with the idea of outreach, but I'd never really thought about outreach and advocacy for archives - and how similar creative and fun tactics could be used, far beyond the usual flyer and poster distribution. I'd definitely never known that Outreach Archivist was an actual job, but the more I learn about it, the more intrigued with the idea I get.
When I entered the GSLIS program I was certain I knew what sort of job I'd want when I graduated, but the longer I spend in the program the more opportunities I see that interest me. This is how things should work, I think, but I really wish I had some sort of time machine that could let me take a peek at my life a year from now, because at this point I'm leaning in a lot of directions at once.