Archivists are responsible for the provision, care and management of permanent collections of information that are intended to preserve the past and allow others to discover it. Archives may include books, papers, maps, plans, photographs, prints, films and computer-generated records. Users include researchers, academics, other professional staff and the general public.
Employers of Archivists
- evaluate records for preservation and retention – some may be fragile and need careful handling, repair or conservation;
- arrange the acquisition and retrieval of records;
- catalogue collections and manage information and records;
- liaise with donors and depositors of archives;
- respond to enquiries from members of the public and other users;
- advise users on how best to access, use and interpret archives;
- prepare record-keeping systems and procedures for archival research and for the retention or destruction of records;
- maintain user-friendly, computer-aided search systems;
- promote your work through exhibitions, presentations, talks and visits;
- organise training sessions on archival procedures;
- identify ways of protecting and preserving collections;
- advise on the ongoing organisation and storage of material in order to encourage organisations to plan for the future.
Many archivists have degrees in history, law, information management and languages. An interest and awareness of history and the value of archives as evidence may prove advantageous. Knowledge of the data protection and freedom of information legislation may also be useful.
- a genuine interest in history and in preserving records for posterity;
- good communication skills to relate to, and encourage, a range of users;
- a logical approach to the work of identification and classification;
- an understanding of research skills in order to help users access materials;
- the ability to skim and understand an extensive and varied range of material;
- attention to detail and accuracy;
- the ability to anticipate and respond to changing needs and digital media;
- a commitment to the profession and to professional development;
- the ability to work independently and as part of a team;
- good IT skills and an interest in applying digital technology to archival practice;
- competence in administrative procedures and project management skills.