On Things Not Missed, or What I Disliked About Being a Practicing Archivist

  1. “I’m an archivist. I describe and maintain records for… No, not that type of record.  I don’t work for a music store. I’m an archivist, someone who organizes paper and books and makes sure…. No, I’m not a librarian, though I did go to library school…”

    Google “archivist,” get this pic. I am clueless. From http://www.joystiq.com/
  2. Paper cuts.
  3. Broken nails. Or never having nails because they’d catch on things, or tear on things, or I’d bite them off due to anxiety.
  4. Anxiety. The trustees are coming! The report is due! Where did that photo file go? The vendor sent back the tapes out of order? No? THEY TRANSCRIBED THEM OUT OF ORDER?!? We lost the license to [insert name of proprietary content management program here] and can’t access our data? The visitors are going through the cabinets! The receptionist told someone over the phone that he could donate his crap to the archive!!!!!! AAAAAH!!!!
  5. Opening an old container or folder and finding those dried out insect… things. What are they? Silverfish skeletons? [shudder]
  6. “Archivist. It’s like a records manager…”
  7. Vinegar Syndrome and weird smells from off-gassing old stuff. I hate old book smell. And the funk of mildew. Ugh.
  8. Rusted staples. And nails, pins, clips, and rotted rubber bands used to hold papers together.
  9. The economic and professional condescension that comes from having a “pink collar profession” which often led to….
  10. … Experience, professionalism, titles and positions of power and rank (Director, Lead, Associate, Assistant, what have you) being ignored. The refrain “No one ever listens to the archivist” should be “No one ever listens to that girl with the papers who keeps talking about policies and data.” I saw it in my organization and in the institutions colleagues and friends worked for. Seven years after an official title change, my old boss (the department head, the Archives Director, the woman in charge) is STILL referred to as “archivist,” and her role as a manager and supervisor go ignored and unnoticed. In a lone arranger situation, just “Archivist” is okay. In a department with multiple employees and levels of authority, calling the top post “Archivist” is a not.I’m not sure why I expected much else. Outside that department and outside our profession, we’re just… What are we to most people? Glorified file clerks or librarians with their old lady knickers in a twist? Lisa Loeb-cosplayers with a hard-on for books? That dude in the pic above? I’ve gotten blank stares from laywers and laymen alike when explaining what I did for a living; the vast majority equated what I did to what their secretaries did (gaaaaah!!!!!!). I was once called “the coffee girl” by a visitor to my organization’s archive (my resolve was tested that day). We — the multiple degree-holding, grown-up, tax-paying, married women or women holding it down on their own, professional archivist women — were  almost always referred to as the “girls in Archives.” Fuck you. Respect the microspatula and hand that wields it.
  11. “[Sigh] Yes, I’m a librarian.”

    From http://janedonuts.tumblr.com/

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