Archival or Special Collections Librarianship

What is it?

Archives are the non-current records of individuals, groups, institutions, and governments that contain information of enduring value. Formats represented in the modern archival repository include photographs, films, video and sound recordings, computer tapes, and video and optical disks, as well as the more traditional unpublished letters, diaries, and other manuscripts. Archival records are the products of everyday activity. Researchers use them both for their administrative value and for purposes other than those for which they were created. For example, Native Americans may use archival records to establish legal claims to land and privileges guaranteed by federal and state governments; medical researchers utilize records to study patterns of diseases; authors use archives to acquire a feel for the people and times about which they are writing; historians and genealogists rely on archival sources to analyze past events to reconstruct family histories; and businesses use the records to improve their public relations and to promote new products. In short, archives benefit nearly everyone, even those who have never directly used them. (Source: Society of American Archivists)

What can I do with this background?

Indexing/abstracting, competitor intelligence, strategic information, knowledge management, records management/archives, information architecture, document design, information management, usability, digital preservation, e-mail management, hypermedia, visual resources, reprography, grey literature, antiquarian books.

Employers: Large hospitals; medical schools; law firms; law schools; bar associations; large corporations; industrial and scientific collections; research labs; local, state and federal government agencies; nonprofit organizations; public libraries; colleges and universities; art schools; museums and art institutions; prisons; galleries; historical societies; publishing houses; advertising and public relations agencies; news organizations and electronic media; picture services; motion picture studios; television stations; trade and professional associations.

In addition to the required core courses, what courses should I take?

Suggested electives include:

  • 60631 Introduction to Digital Preservation

  • 60651 Digital Image Processing and Collection Management

  • 60652 Foundations and Administration of Archives

  • 61095 ST: Reference and Research Methods in Local History and Genealogy

  • 61095 ST: Archival Appraisal

(Refer to the program guidesheet above for additional suggested coursework.)

What professional organizations are relevant to this career path?

International Council on Archives

Society of American Archivists

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