On Archival Education, or the $?0,000 Gift That Keeps On Giving

I used to be a practicing archivist. No, not an archaeologist (though I studied that in college and planned to get a PhD in it before I thought, “Hmm…. Spending close to a hundred grand for the honor of digging in an active war zone then trying to get a tenure-track job in a misogynistic field just doesn’t sit well with me.”). An archivist. Not a librarian, though archivists get their degrees at library school.


I call grad school the $ ?0,000  gift because I’m not sure exactly how much I had to pay for it, but it was around two years of living off cheap ramen packets, coffee swiped from the office, and free samples from Costco (aka the Saturday Special). And it definitely keeps giving because whenever something needs to be done that is even remotely related to organization, arrangement, description, preservation, or conservation, a little voice pops into my head:


That voice makes itself heard whenever I grab the duct tape or a thing of dollar store scotch tape to fix one of the kids’ books. My kids are ardent “readers” and voracious bibliovores. They’ve gone through two copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar in board book form and I’m convinced that our first copy of Brown Bear, Brown Bear just fell to dust after its kajillionth reading.

I learned more about conservation and preservation working as an archivist than I ever did in grad school, and in a professional situation would never use regular tape to fix a torn page or duct tape to repair a spine. But as a parent responsible for a large collection of non-permanent, high-use, mass-market books we most likely paid less than 3/4ths the retail price for? Packing tape is my friend and most loyal companion. Then the voice speaks up.

“You know better than this.”

“There are better uses for that Gorilla Tape.”

“[cough]$ ?0,000 masters degree[cough]”



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