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Librarians and curators responsible for maintaining archives and special collections.

Duties, Activities, and Responsibilities[edit]

Archivists are information professionals who "establish and maintain control, both physical and intellectual, over records of enduring value," or, archives. [1] a person whose job is to develop and maintain an archive

According to Dearstyne, whether their records originate from within their parent institution or originate elsewhere, most archivists share several activities:

  1. Selection and acquisition of historically significant records for addition to the collection;
  2. management and organization of collections through arrangement, description, and physical preservation; and
  3. encouragement of the collection's use through various means of promotion and the provision of access, research assistance, and other services to users.

Selection is based upon considerations like:

  • the extent to which records contribute to the fulfillment of the institution's mission as expressed in its collection policy,
  • the records' similarity or relationship to those in the collections of other institutions,
  • the amount of staff, space, and other resources available in the collecting institution,
  • the quality and relevance of the records as determined by an appraisal process, and
  • the extent to which the archivist believes that the records will be used by researchers and other user groups.

Professional Niche[edit]

The role of the archivist is related to that of other information professionals, like librarians, curators, and records managers. However, the role of the archivist maintains certain distinctions.

Archivists vs. librarians

  • Similarities: collection of, preservation of, provision of accessibility to materials
  • Differences: arrangement, description, mode of dress, and usage of materials

Archivists vs. curators

  • Curators work with realia/three-dimensional formats.
  • Archivists work with paper, audio-visual, and electronic formats.

Archivists vs. records managers

  • Records managers work with institutional records that are slated for eventual destruction.
  • Archivists work with records that are considered to be worth long-term preservation. [2]

Qualifications and Education[edit]

A person is usually considered to be a qualified archivist if he or she has earned a graduate degree that included some archival coursework and has gained some practical experience or held an internship in an archival setting. [3]

Currently, no consistent, formal standards exist that define an archival education program. However, the SAA has published a set of Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies, and the Academy of Certified Archivists provides a professional archival certification that is both well-recognized and widely-accepted.

External Links[edit]

References and Suggestions for Further Reading[edit]

  • Dearstyne, Bruce W. 2000. Managing historical records programs: A guide for historical agencies. Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press.
  • Kurtz, Michael J. 2004. Managing archival & manuscript repositories. Chicago: Society of American Archivists.