Archivist Must Have a Boring Job

All archivist do is sit around boxes all day, right? The job of an archivist requires more than keeping track of where materials are stored.

The Cleveland Orchestra requires more items to be archived then one might think. Hidden in the bowels of Severance Hall, there are several archive rooms. In these rooms there are programs from the orchestra’s performances to the Grammy won by Pierre Boulez. Mrs. Amy Dankowski is the person who keeps the archives alive. She must make the decision on what is kept, destroyed, and where the archives are stored (on or off site). The writing for an archivist is more than keeping records of what is in every box and where the box is located.
Keeping track of what materials or items are in every box is only a small part of archivists writing life. A big part of Mrs. Dankowski’s writing life is occupied with writing finding aids. The finding aid allows a researcher to know the resources available to him in the Cleveland Orchestra archive room. The archivist will first give a bibliography or background information on the subject that the researcher is researching. Next there will be a list of the boxes that material appears in, plus a brief description of the materials available in each box. To make the boxes easier to find each one has a reference number, which is also listed on the finding aid. A proper finding aid will flow throughout the report, which requires an archivist to have a good writing mind.
An archivist has numerous boxes of papers, and materials coming into their office. For every container of materials that come into their office, they must go through and make sure that the material is relevant and worth archiving. Upon deeming the material appropriate archiving material, the archivist must next place a reference number on the box and finally put the box in the proper storage place. An archivist offices fill up quickly because several containers coming into their office daily or weekly, and the process of archiving the material takes several hours. Mrs. Dankowski tries to solve this problem by writing a manual describing what materials to archive and the proper way to archive material. Along with the manual, Mrs. Dankowski tries to sit down with employees who routinely archive material. When the two processes are combined, they cut down on the amount of time it takes to process a box of material. To make the job of processing material easier an archivist could write a manual, which expands the writing life of the archivist.
A more daily form of writing that an archivist uses is e-mail. The archivist can use e-mail to communicate internal or externally, but according to Mrs. Dankowski both external and internal communication are very important. Mrs. Dankowski can have request for archived material from fellow employees or from external people like the newspaper. Each request for material requires a formal response, which expands the archivist writing mind.
There is more writing in an archivist life then just recording what materials are in each container. The archivist must have the ability to write finding aids, manuals, and formal emails. The writing mind is very important to keeping a job as an archivist.


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