The Para Archivist and the Light Bulb

In December 2011 I graduated with my MLS and an Archives Studies Certificate. For the past three years I have been working as a paraprofessional Library Assistant at Highland City Library in Utah. In September 2011 I began interning/volunteering at Utah Valley University Archives. Currently my days are filled with part-time work and part-time volunteering with an hour at the gym in the evenings and thankfully weekends off. Nights are dedicated to finding full time professional work as an Archivist. Here and there I make time for additional training workshops and conferences.

Last week I became depressed with my ever increasing qualified by not referred or no thank yous to my requests for that illusive archival career. Wednesday my Light Bulb went of right in the middle of the Library Board meeting (I am also the Secretary of the Library Board). While the Board was discussing possibilities of adult programing for the library the idea of local history came up. This is when I suddenly realized my Director’s subtle hints about the library’s growing history collection, a city Founding Father’s collection, a former City Council/Library Board member’s papers, and a collection of binders which I soon discovered were full of newspaper clippings about the city.

By the time the meeting was over I had volunteered myself for another job at our small library. Adding to Collection Maintenance and Repair, Collection Development, Emergency Management, Secretary, and ILL helper I will become our library’s Archivist (or Para Archivist). Why do I need to worry my head about getting a professional position when there is a need where I currently work. This opportunity will also give me the chance to learn how to start a Special Collections/Manuscript Archive from the very beginning.

Which brings me to this blog. I hope to be able to chronicle my adventures in this new venture of everything from creating policies to my Director’s dream digitizing portions of our holdings. Wish me luck . . .

3 thoughts on “The Para Archivist and the Light Bulb

  1. This is a great opportunity. Very few have the chance to start a new program, but why use the title para-archivist–archivist is proper. Volunteering is a great way to gain experience, but your director, who hinted at this, should see about adding this as a paid part of your work portfolio. Check to see what the city is doing–a relationship with the library to serve as their archives would not be unusual.

    1. My current job is as a paraprofessional (hence para-archivist) in a very small library where we wear many hats. The word “volunteer” just means that this is another role I am taking on as part of my assignments in my current position as Library Assistant. Do not worry I am getting paid for my work.

  2. Good luck to you! This sounds like a great opportunity. I got my current job as community college archivist by agreeing (it didn’t take much arm-twisting) to spend part of my work day organizing the Archives. It took three years, but they finally created an official archivist position for me.

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