Archivist / Librarian
Ken, 29, is an archivist for a private academic medical centre in Chicago. His BA (1997) and his MLIS (2000) are from the University of Western Ontario.
Stephanie: What made you decide to become an archivist?
Ken: I have always loved history and I had the opportunity to work in archives while doing a graduate degree in public history. This experience was very positive – not only did I have a better opportunity to interact with a wide range of people interested in history, but I also was able to build tools (e.g., finding aids and guides to records) that would be used by subsequent researchers and staff. It was a good way to contribute to furthering access to local and Canadian history.
Stephanie: How did you become an archivist?
Ken: I entered the Masters of Library and Information Science program at the University of Western Ontario with the express desire to become an archivist.
Stephanie: What do you like about your job?
Ken: I enjoy working with different sorts of clients -- co-workers, authors, media organizations (including Miramax's "Project Greenlight" featured on HBO), genealogists, students, and historians. I also enjoy creating tools that people will use to access information in my archives – especially a new archival catalog for my archives that I am developing on-line.
Stephanie: What is your least favourite part of the job?
Ken: Archives and archivists are always appreciated when their parent organizations need something at the last minute and we can provide the resources. My least favourite part of my job is having to remind my parent organization of the importance of its own history when it isn't
Stephanie: What advice do you have for someone considering becoming an archivist?
Ken: Be prepared to make the most of the tools you have around you. You need to be innovative. Make partnerships inside your own organization and without. You never know when the graphic designer from another department will come in handy when you wish to produce an eye-catching, professional display, or when a professional organization can help you to raise the public profile of your archives.
Stephanie: What kind of an education do you need to be an archivist?
Ken: Typically, there are three routes to becoming an archivist. The first is to have a background in history (usually an MA) with practical training or course work offered by a professional archival association. The second is to have a Masters in Library and Information Science, with an archives specialization. The third is to have a Masters in Archival Science/Studies (MAS).
The first two routes have predominated, but there are more MAS programs now, usually being offered by a Library and Information Science program that also offers the more traditional MLIS
Stephanie: What kind of education did you get?
Ken: I have an honours BA in history. I did one year of a Masters in Public History degree, and I have a Masters in Library and Information Science. I tailored my courses to ensure that I would have some knowledge of many aspects of managing and working in archives. I studied personnel management, financial management, database development, cataloging, web site design, reference services, marketing, as well as archival theory and practice.
Stephanie: What is your favourite book?
Ken: Fiction? 'The Lord of the Rings' by J.R.R. Tolkien. Non-Fiction? 'The Soul of Battle' by Victor Davis Hanson.
We are always trying to find new careers to feature in the spotlight! If there is a career you would like to know more about, please let us know what it is, and we will do what we can to include it on the site. E-mail your suggestions to email@example.com.