As I have tried to explain it, to civilians, archives are moving into the digital realm. Whether things are being digitized for better access or are born digital we are at a juncture where basic archival skills just are not enough. This year I am on the road to creating some new digital media skills. Because how can you deal with the preservation of computer generated art, animation, graphics, video games, websites, social media, digital photography, film, and audio if you do not have a foundation in how it was created?
After much interior debate, which included considerations on obtaining a second Master’s in general American History or Military History, as to what skills would make me stand out in this hyper-competitive field I decided to work on a degree in digital media at Utah Valley University (AAS Digital Communication Technology). My generals have all been completed due to previous expeditions in the academic arena (AA, BA, MLS) so I can concentrate on learning new skills. Still with commitments to work, volunteering at the UVU archive, and having a life (???) I am taking two classes a semester and should be done by end of summer 2016 (cross fingers).
Low and behold just a few weeks into my expedition working on Photoshop in my Digital Media Essentials survey class I found in my email a discussion on “Preserving Native Photoshop Files” (SAA Metadata & Digital Object Roundtable). Now I know I am on the right path. Of course I am also catching the ongoing and profuse debate on the thread “Do We Eat Our Young?” (SAA Archives & Archivists) which was sparked by the observance of a lack of respect for the archival profession through job description advertisements that want a high degree of skill and experience for temporary, low paying, no benefits positions.
I am not exactly young having turned forty last year so I do have financial commitments (besides student loans) that would not allow me to sacrifice my current part-time public library position risking unemployment for the possibilities of temporary work. And I think the point is many of us are not young and have commitments in our lives that will not allow us to travel around the country for hit and miss opportunities.
Still there are some who insist that we must be flexible and most of us do realize that, but there is flexibility (relocation, non-traditional archives, etc.) and then there is just plain ridiculousness. Some (professionals) have also complained that there are just too many graduates for available jobs, but has this been an issue with any other professional Master’s level program? How many MBA graduates for available administrator jobs? English graduates and English jobs?
I have to agree with one respondent, currently working on an MLIS, relating how she is even more determined to obtain her degree despite the employment outlook because she is passionate about the profession (and flexible). It makes sense. You need to be passionate about what you do. Why would I not want to become a nurse even though there are plenty of nursing positions available? Because it is not my passion. My passions are libraries, history, creative arts including photography, graphic arts, film, and audio production and that is why I have returned to Utah Valley University (AA) and begun Digital Media program.