What does it take to be an Archivist?
To achieve a successful career in archives, one must have a diverse set of skills and abilities. It is absolutely essential that records be maintained carefully and accurately so the ability to interpret data logically is required. On the other hand, interpersonal interaction is also a frequent requirement of archival positions as helping people find and interpret archives is a core responsibility.
Given the historical nature of the position, one must have a solid grasp of history and, in particular, the history surrounding the time period that is relevant to the institution for which the archives are being collected. Frequently, which records are deemed valuable and the way in which they are organized results in emotionally charged reactions. So, an important duty is to delicately handle the politics surrounding the information being collected.
Archives are most often in the form of paper records; however, the means to maintaining accurate records of the archives requires a good deal of technological competency. Furthermore, maintaining paper records is not as simple as filing in the appropriate location. They must be conserved in the appropriate manner so that they do not deteriorate.
In terms of formal education and certification, the requirements vary among institutions and countries. A four-year degree is generally required, and most obtain a master's degree or higher. In the United Kingdom, one can achieve professional certification through the Society of Archivists, while in the United States certification is provided by the Academy of Certified Archivists. In France, there is even a school, Ecole Des Chartes, that offers a diploma of "Archivist-Paleograph". While the specific requirements vary, one must obtain a degree in a relevant field and will most often need to obtain experience in an archival repository prior to achieving the official role of archivist.
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