posted January 30, 2014 10:11 AM by Gemma Doyle
I work in a corporate archive. When I took LIS438 (Introduction to Archival Methods and Services) last spring, one of the questions someone asked me was what the main difference is between a corporate archive and a historical archive, besides the obvious fact that the corporate archive only hosts documents pertaining to the institution I work for. The one I can think of, off the top of my head, is that our legal department gets to determine how documents should come to the archive, and what shape they should be in when they get there. One of the first things I learned while I was doing my first archival internship at the Worcester Historical Museum was just how much I should appreciate the lovely uniformity of the records that I got every day in the corporate archive - everything organized and arranged just so before they even got to me.
Of course, at the historical archive there was always the excitement of opening a box and having only the vaguest of ideas what might be inside. We don't get that in the corporate archive.
That's not always true, though. When one of our sales offices closed last spring, the archive received all of the files from their office at once: over 300 boxes, with dubiously vague labels like "old files."
I sort of fell into my current job by accident. I certainly never expected to love it as much as I do. I decided to get my MLIS because I know this is the sort of work I want to keep doing. I'm not entirely certain, yet, exactly what kind of archive I'd prefer - right now I'm leaning toward a municipal archive of some sort, although I expect it will be more a question of where I can get a job once I graduate.
This summer I'll probably take LIS502, the Archives Field Study, which will hopefully give me more exposure to non-profit archives. When I first heard about Simmons' internship requirements during the application process I have to admit I was a little unhappy about it. I knew it would be hard to work out the internship hours around a fulltime job and classes, and it seemed a little pointless. Now I think the internships are possibly the most important thing I'll do at Simmons: they give me a real feel for what a job in different sorts of archives will actually be like, and let me test out what we learn in class in a practical way. One thing that is repeated over and over in our archives classes is that there are few hard and fast rules of archiving. Every place will do things slightly differently, and it's important to see the differences in practice before students internalize ideas of The One Right Way of Doing Things.
I'm really looking forward to what I'll learn this semester!