On Things Liked, or What I Miss About Being a Practicing Archivist

  1. Office parties!!!! YAAAAAAAAY!!!!! We’d celebrate any little thing. Sometimes with themes. But we’d never bring food or flame into the office. No. Never. Because crumbs and fires are bad.
  2. Sorting things. Putting away Lego bricks at the end of the day just doesn’t have the same appeal as eight square feet of papers from a deceased trustee.
  3. Having my job pay for professional memberships. Oh, MARAC, METRO, and Archivists Round Table, how I miss thee.
  4. Browsing through new catalogs, even though University Products, Gaylord, and Metal Edge change up them up as often as LL Bean does its catalog.
  5. Buying supplies. I had unlimited supply funding and it was beautiful. Fortunately, Archives fell under the organization’s “general operating expenses,” and we had no restraints on purchases. Yes, I was responsible and was held accountable for the validity of all purchases, but it was so much fun. Pitting one supplier against another when Metal Edge’s sale flyer arrived? Priceless.
  6. Microspatulae. They’re the ultimate multi-tasker and the best hairstick I’ve ever used.
  7. Footrests. Footrests everywhere!
  8. Did you know that Hollinger boxes can perfectly fit a bottle of alcohol? Archives have environmentally stable environments. That are perfect for booze. And containers that can accommodate booze.  For after hours purposes. Of course.

    What lurks within?(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollinger_box)
  9. Curating and installing rotating exhibits every quarter. Why rehash the same old legends and stories every. single. display? Sure, many visitors didn’t think past the things written about in the brochure, but if we changed things up …. They’d think! They’d discuss! They’d pass on the word that our Archive had more than A, B, and C. We had D through YYZ, as well!!! Plus, I’d get so bored exhibiting the same damned things over and over again.
  10. Touching things on display and being able to reach behind the glass. Always fun.
  11. The look on visitors’ faces as they watched me touch things on display and reach behind the glass. That’s right, folks, I got to put on those sexy white cotton gloves and pick up those tchotchkes on display. Yeah.
  12. The sense of exploration and discovery with every new accession, every old box of randomness found in retiring staff members’ closets, every square foot of the thirty-something-year backlog we had to get through (not kidding).
  13. My old boss. I was her bitch. And proud of it. The office manager even gave me a joke business card that read “[name redacted]’s Bitch.” I used it as the nameplate for my little cubicle.
  14. The Keurig coffee maker. Sure, I could buy my own and have little cups of flavored, weak coffee at home, but then I’d have to pay for it.
  15. Going to professional development things. The “going to” part. Sitting there was often a crap shoot as to whether or not I was actually going to learn something I could apply to our collection or if I’d just waste a few hours wondering why I chose to spend my organization’s money on this when I could have just bought more books.
  16. The paycheck. It wasn’t much. It wasn’t anything. It wasn’t nearly what archivists in comparable organizations made. It wasn’t anywhere near what male archivists in comparable positions and organizations made. Still, I was being paid to go through business papers and other people’s things, organize them, and put that data to use. I got paid to read gossip, touch history, and research ’til I had my fill. It was the greatest job in the world.

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