Continuing Education

Let’s face it no program will cover everything we need to learn and at the rate our digital age is progressing every year it is all we can do to keep up personally let alone professionally. I can say that I began my pursuit of continuing education while I was still working on my MLS. Most of it was free online self paced courses through the University of North Texas’ LE@D program that is currently in funding limbo. Another course was an online workshop on Metadata through Lyrasis. Each class helped me verify what I already knew like an internal self check system as well as added to my knowledge base.

My Archives Studies Certificate covered the basics of archives and gave me opportunities to put theory into practice via a required practicum and coursework. I managed the archives coursework so that it covered the elective portion of my MLS program. Still, I lacked the opportunity to cover everything I wanted to cover due to time, money, and courses offered. This is where continuing education fills in the gaps.

What my coursework did not cover was aspects of digital archiving. I supplemented my education by exploring these issues on my own and applying this to my coursework at the time. During my practicum at University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library Special Collections I had the opportunity to meet with individuals in Digital Technologies and University Archives and Records.  I even made an appointment with the Digital Preservation Archivist, Tawnya to talk with her one on one about digital preservation. My conversation was very informative and served to verify issues I explored in a paper on “Managing Digital Archives” for a non-archives course on Collection Development and Management. I also had the opportunity to hear more from Tawnya at a Conference of Inter-Mountain Archivists (CIMA) at a fall caucus last year.

Speaking of meetings I took the opportunity to attend the Society of American Archivists (SAA) annual meeting in Chicago. I attended several sessions and while I had no idea what MPLP (More Product Less Process) meant I was able to use some of the ideas I learned in that particular session to add to my Blackboard assignment for an Archival Arrangement and Description class that week. I also bumped into a handful of individuals who also attended Emporia State University. One such individual, Bobbi Posner was willing to take time out to talk to me about my future in the archival field.

The one thing I took from my talk with Bobbi was to begin volunteering in an archive. While I had a practicum behind me and I worked part-time in a public library I still needed more time working and continuing my education in an actual archive. One month later I was volunteering one day a week at the George Sutherland Archives at Utah Valley University Library, which has since expanded to approximately 16 hours a week since graduation.

On my way to my volunteer job one day I was listening to the audio recording of the SAA annual meeting and found myself agreeing to a session titled Pay It Forward: Interns, Volunteers, and the Development of New Archivists and the Archives Profession. You can find out more information from one of the panelists Lance Stuchell’s blog and his paper “Wanted, Free Labor: The Impact and Ethics of Unpaid Work”.

Internships are a current obsession with the SAA SNAP (Students and New Archives Professionals) Roundtable members. The listserv buzzes with comments on creating better professional education experiences with internships. This topic is currently crossing all professions with articles appearing in The Atlantic  (“Work is Work: Why Free Internships are Immoral”) and Time (“Hard Labor” 5/21/2012, Vol. 179 Issue 20, p17-17).

For my internship or practicum I was able to take paid vacation for a month off my part-time library position in order to fulfill my required unpaid practicum. As I said before, I interned at the University of Utah Special Collections where I was able to work a week in four areas Multimedia, Books, Manuscripts, and Western Americana. My duties were entry level assignments including: cleaning, processing, re-housing, indexing, etc. and time was monitored by a mentor, Paul Mogren.

Paul took the time to talk with me about the profession, allowed me to work on a reference question mailed from Germany, had me sit in on a couple of reference interviews, and sit in on presentations from applicants for a library position. As part of my coursework I was required to keep a journal which I made into a blogof my experience that could be accessed at any point by my mentor.

My volunteering or unpaid labor has brought me into another network of archivists where I have learned about Archivist’s Toolkit, editing EAD records in oXygen, and even worked on a grant funded oral history project by transcribing audio files. I was even able to complete coursework for an archives class where I had to process a small collection and create a finding aid. Archivist Catherine McIntyre even gave me the opportunity to talk to undergraduate students about applying a history degree to a career in archives.

Coming full circle my Director, Kent Slade at Highland City Library has encouraged me to take on our small collection of archival materials because he is interested in digitizing items for patron access. I am starting with creating policies so that in the future we can get to that digital project. But digital archiving is where my education is lacking. I have the basics, but I need to expand my education so I am currently working on the SAA Digital Archive Specialist program. So as you can see while I am at the beginning of my career I am nowhere near being finished with my education.

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