Stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself
ETA: It has come to my attention that as of 11:00 or so on November 23, this post has been removed from Drexel’s iSchool job site. I have no idea what, if any, effect this post may have had on that decision, but if the two events are related I am very appreciative towards the Drexel folks for at least taking these points into consideration.
Today’s doozy of a job posting is brought to you by Drexel University. Let’s take a look, shall we:
Title: Archives Technician
Employer: Drexel University Libraries
Philadelphia, PA — USA
Salary: Commensurate with experience
The Archives Technician supports the work of the University Archives and Special Collections by providing patron assistance; accessioning, arranging, describing and preserving print and electronic collections; and coordinating outreach efforts.
– Provide patron assistance to onsite and remote patrons, including maintaining the reference database, performing research, providing and scheduling reading room service
– Accession, arrange and describe archival collections, including creating finding aids
– Maintain the Archives’ desc-riptive tools, including its website, finding aids, style-sheets, web archive, and digital collections. Add content to iDEA, Drexel’s institutional repository.
– Plan and promote exhibitions, open houses, and other educational outreach events. Coordinate these outreach efforts and Archives’ social media (Web 2.0) activities with the Libraries’ Marketing & Events Associate
– Assist the Records Management Archivist in acquiring and accessioning electronic and print records generated by University offices and scholarly work created by faculty and students
– Train and supervise scanning technicians
– Other duties as assigned
– Bachelor’s degree required
– Familiarity with the functions of an archives, library or information organization
– Superior organizational and communication skills and demonstrated service orientation
– Eager engagement in an environment of organizational change with a commitment to growth in skills and responsibilities
– Experience working in a collaborative environment, including working with people with diverse backgrounds.
– Sound judgment and the ability to handle responsibilities with both discretion and independence.
– Demonstrated appropriate initiative with the highest degree of integrity.
Ahh, the infamous “Archives Technician” position title. Back when I was a wee archivling, still in Library School but at the point where I began to think “Oh hay, I should start looking for that ‘job’ thing”, I would see “Archives Technician” positions all the time on USAJobs and other similar, bureaucracy-based job sites. I quickly learned that “archives technician” was code for “We don’t have to pay you as much money as we would if we called you an archivist, even though we’re going to make you do as much work as an archivist.” The above posting doesn’t disappoint on that front! It is a full-time job, for which the archives technician is expected to perform all of the traditional archivist duties: not just collections management and processing, but outreach and digital assets management, including responsibility for management of the archives’ web presence. (Is this full responsibility? Partial responsibility, e.g. for their particular unit? The ad doesn’t say.) But I digress; expecting a technician to do an archivist’s work is so common it’s almost routine at this point.
No, the sticking point in my craw for this particular ad is the following:
-Bachelor’s degree required
Sorry, I think I read that wrong. WHAT kind of degree?
-Bachelor’s degree required
Oh, for the love of Buddha.
So, let me qualify my impending rant thusly: I do not think that the MLS ipso facto qualifies or disqualifies any particular person for any particular position. It is to a certain extent a “gatekeeper” qualification– you want to be able to see, at a glance, that your applicant has put in the time and training for a professional position– but its absence does not necessarily mean that the person is unqualified for the job (think of the library paraprofessionals who are more familiar with database searching than the “full” librarians). So I really am not trying to be elitist here.
Having said that.
It is incredible to me that this position only requires a B.A. as its educational qualification. The job description is, as noted, a description that would fit a “regular” archivist for all but a few job duties (mostly administrative in nature), and most institutions would want their candidates to have a M.L.S. Come to that, Drexel may also want their “ideal” candidate to have a M.L.S. But by making the B.A. the minimum qualification, the hiring authorities there have cleverly set themselves up for one of the two following scenarios:
a) The position is filled by someone without an M.L.S. Because the candidate does not have “full” qualifications as an archivist, it is deemed “reasonable” to pay them less than they would be paid in a comparable position elsewhere.
b) The position is filled by someone WITH an M.L.S. Because the minimum qualification for this job is a B.A., it is deemed “reasonable” to pay them less than they would be paid in a comparable position elsewhere, because they are “overqualified”– nobody made them get that graduate degree. They will probably be paid more than person a), but not much more.
Now, I admit that this is just one institution that is shortchanging one archives position. Hell, on the Records Management side, the M.L.S. is USUALLY seen as an added bonus, rather than as a requirement for the job. The thing is…I paid a lot of money for my M.L.S. (Probably too much money, but that’s another story.) The M.L.S.’s return on investment is not wonderful to begin with, but the one expectation that one DOES have from this degree is that it qualifies one to do the kind of archival management jobs that pay a wage you can at least live on. The message being sent by this ad is that “we don’t value the M.L.S. as an indicator of professional training and experience.” And the more institutions that post jobs like this, the less that the degree is going to be worth. What’s more, this is from an institution WITH an archives program–you would expect the institutional archives to work to INCREASE the value of a degree from said program.
Yes, this is an entry-level position, and so you don’t expect to see “Ph.D. and 15 years of experience” and all of that stuff. But it would be nice of them to at least pretend that you need to have at least a minimal professional training qualification before you can jump right in to a professional-level position.