Council of State Archivists Government Careers Webinar [ MARA Webcast ]

Council of State Archivists Government Careers Webinar [ MARA Webcast ]

August 14, 2019 0 By Kailee Schamberger


>>Okay, welcome everyone to today’s webinar. We’re going to hear from three panelists. We have with us Matt Veatch, state
archivist from the Kansas Historical Society; Cathy Popovitch, a records archivist from the
Illinois State Archives; and Kris Stenson, administrator for the Oregon Records Management
Solution at the Oregon State Archives. The procedure today will be for each
of the presenters to speak to you and then they’re going to throw their
mics over to the next presenter. We’re going to hold all questions until the end. So right now I’m going to turn
the presentation over to Matt.>>Thanks very much, Pat. Yeah, my name is Matt Veatch. I am the state archivist in Kansas. I actually work at the Kansas
Historical Society. I’ve been involved with the Council State
Archivist for quite a number of years. And in fact, I was the president
of the organization back in 2015. As you can see from my photo there,
I do have a little gray hair. And so I’ve been around quite
some time in this field. I didn’t put any dates on my career
path, but just know that I’ve been at the Kansas Historical Society for 25 years. So I’ve been doing this for a long time. So a little bit about my education
and training and my career path. I come up kind of a more traditional route. A lot of the folks now that I’m hiring
are now coming out of library science or information science programs,
school of information programs. But I came up in the old days when just a
master’s degree in history was kind of the — oftentimes the card, the
piece of paper that you needed to get a job in archives and state archives. I got on-the-job training. I became a certified archivists
fairly early in my career, that is a certification program
that is available to archivists. And I felt like it was a valuable thing for me. I had a fairly straightforward career path. I started at a local or county historical
society over in Independence, Missouri. Worked half-time. I made a grand total of $10,000
a year for one full year. That’s all the time my wife
allowed me to work half-time. And fortunately for me, the Missouri State
Archives hired me right at that 12 month mark. I worked there for 18 months. Came to the Kansas Historical Society in 1992. Became the state archivist in 2006
and I am still here and plan to retire from the Kansas Historical Society. So that’s just a little bit about my background. Go ahead to the next slide. Now I want to just set the scene for you,
kind of set the stage for my two colleagues who will talk a little bit more about the day-in
and day-out work, of what it means to work in a state archives or any government archives. But I’m going to start with the very basics,
and that is, what is a state archives? What are state archives? Most simply, most fundamentally, state
archives are a repository, the repository, for state government records
that have enduring value, permanent value, permanent archivable value. They need to be retained for, in our view
of things, for the life of the Republic. State archives, historically speaking,
emerged in the early 20th century. There were essentially repositories
for government records, for state government records, in many states, but the official statutorily-created
state archives emerged early in the 1900s. And by the middle part of the
century, most every state had one. One important thing, one important point
to make about a government archives, in particular state government, federal
archives, is that we don’t store or we don’t house all of the
records created by government. So the general rule of thumb is we want
to take less than 5% of records produced by the government, less than 5% of
them are deemed to have enduring value. And most fundamentally in the 21st century
is that format absolutely does not matter. You’ll see the photo that I took, the piece
of art that one of my colleagues made with all of the old technology, from mice to
CDs to, you know, Kindle devices. You can see that digital material is something
that is kind of dominating our field right now. There’s a fair amount of variation across states
and territories with regard to the organization and the funding of their state archives. Administratively in terms of like
where the state archives is located within the government itself,
it varies quite a bit. Sometimes they’re independent agencies. Very often they’re in Secretary
of State’s offices. So the State of California or the
State of Missouri, for example, are both in Secretaries of State’s offices. Sometimes they’re in a historical society,
like in Kansas or Ohio or Minnesota. Cultural resources or cultural affairs
agencies are also a likely place to find a state archives. And sometimes they’re combined
with the state library, like they are in Kentucky or Texas or Florida. So it does vary quite a bit across the states. And there’s also a fair amount
of variation in terms of funding and staffing across states and territories. And so you’ll find state
archives like in Kansas, you know, relatively low population state like
Kansas or Nebraska or the Dakotas, we get by with a very small number of
staff and a relatively small budget. You go to some of the larger states, you
know, North Carolinas and the New Yorks and the Californians of the world and
sometimes their staffs are quite a bit larger. Generally the staffing will range from I
suppose as small as one, say a territory — I used to work with or talk to quite a bit the
archivist for the Northern Mariana Islands. That’s a territory, for those
of you who didn’t know. And he was a one-person shop. But, you know, it varies from
one to a few dozen people. Very few state archives are
really, really large organizations. There’s also variation in the
sense that in some state archives, they have responsibility for records management. Meaning that they work with state and local
government agencies to help them, you know, with the active management
of records in their offices. And we’ve generally found that
if records management programs and state archives programs are
combined, you often get the best results. There’s kind of a symbiotic relationship between
those two things, with records management kind of helping us identify those records that
ultimately need to come to the archives. And you identify it very early
in the records lifecycle. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And there are some states that don’t house
records management as part of the state archives and yet they still operate very fine programs. There’s also variation in terms of
responsibility for local government records. Many states have responsibility
for or at least are very active in providing a records management and archives
consulting services or providing advice and assistance to county governments or
municipal governments or school districts or water districts, you know, any
kind of local government entity. And there are some states, you know,
20 or so states, that actively collect and store local government
records with enduring value. And again, that just kind of varies across the
states, kind of depends on how they got founded and what their funding is like
and what their staffing is like. Go to the next slide please. So why would someone want
to work in a state archives? And that’s kind of one of the main
thrust of this presentation is to try and explain why it really is a meaningful —
it’s a diverse and meaningful place to work. I think sometimes we sell our self short
and we tend to not have quite the, oh, the level of panache that, say, you
know, a university setting would have, a special collections in a university. Often people like that academic
environment, and I certainly understand that and appreciate what those
kinds of programs bring. But I’m very partial to state
archives, to government archives. And I really feel like some of
the most important archival work in the country is taking place
right in the state archives. And I think you would find if you would join a
program like the one that I have here in Kansas or the one in Illinois or the one in
Oregon or anywhere in the country, that you would have a really
diverse and meaningful experience. You get to do a lot of different things. And you’ll see that list there,
and that can go on and on. I mean, you get to do all parts. You get to engage in all parts
of the archival enterprise. Appraisal, I always like to talk about when
I’m talking to people about what it’s like and what it means to work in a state archives
by talking about appraisal and emphasizing kind of my view that that’s kind of the most
important thing that government archivists do, government archivists and records managers. And it’s because of the fact that we don’t bring
everything in that’s created by government. If we’re going to eliminate 95% of the
records created by a state government, then we better be very careful about deciding
which 5% is worthy of making it to the archives. How do you make those decisions? And those are the kinds of things that in
a government archives, in a state archives, you’ll often get to participate in that process
and make those really essential decisions for the future of the state and of the country. But you’ll also get to do lots of the
other traditional archival activities, like arrangement description and
reference and outreach and education. You might get to work on an exhibit. But increasingly the focus of
so much of our attention is on electronic records management,
digital preservation. Trying to make sure that the digital
materials that are being created today by our state governments are being
managed and preserved properly. So my pitch there is in terms of why
you as a young person or perhaps not so young person just coming out of school, why
you might pursue work in the state archives. Just from the archival perspective is
that you really get to do diverse things and what you do makes a real difference. And that comes to the point of a state archives
being a fundamental cornerstone of our form of government, of a Republican government. You can’t have accountability
or transparency without records of the activities of your government. We serve to preserve cultural memory. And one of the things that I think — that I always like to emphasize is just the
critical role that a state archives plays in securing rights: civil
rights, property rights. Whether we have land records, or it could
be employment records, or medical records, environmental records, there’s just a wide
array of essential government records that serve as kind of the underpinnings for our democracy. So you can go forward. So who are we looking for, what kinds of people
are we trying to hire in the state archives? You know, we’re looking for a few good
archivists interested in changing the world. You know, I’m very serious about that. I mean, you know, it might sound kind of hokey, but I really do believe that
what we’re doing matters. That some of the most interesting and important
records to be managed are in state archives. And we’re looking for good people
to help us with this endeavor. Now, the challenges are immense. The staffing levels aren’t what they should be. The funding levels aren’t what they should be. But we’re looking for people
who are interested in doing work that really makes a difference in society. We’re also looking for people who are
lifelong learners who embrace change. This is not the kind of profession — I don’t
care where you are really, anywhere in archives, but particularly in state
archives, you have to stay fresh. You have to stay current. You need to be devoted and committed
to professional development. Without it, the world will
pass you by very, very quickly. You know, just as an example, I mean, you
saw that I have a master’s degree in history. That’s what — I figured if I went into
archives, I’d get to work with some of the archival materials that I became so
familiar with in doing my master’s work. And all that was either paper-based
or microfilm. And yet I’ve spent most of the last 25 years
thinking about managing electronic records and preserving those digital records over time. That’s not the kind of thing that I really
thought I was going to get involved in, but because I was very willing to
learn the new skills and keep abreast of the new developments, I was able to keep up. And it’s really exciting to be part of this. We’re also looking — I emphasized electronic
records or digital records an awful lot. I look for people who are either
digital natives, you know, particularly younger people we’re
hiring today, but others who are at least very comfortable with technology. I don’t think a state archives career
is really a good place for someone who is not very comfortable
with information technology. And then finally, we’re looking for people who
are dynamic, outward facing, people-people. I really try to, you know, dissuade people of
the idea that archivists spend all of their time in the stacks, in quiet rooms,
just sorting papers. That you do have your quiet moments,
but so much of what state archives are about right now are looking outside
of our walls, providing training, providing consulting services,
providing education to K-12. There’s so many opportunities and so
much need for us to be outward-looking, to be outgoing people and interested
in interacting with others. Without that, we just cannot achieve our goals. So the final slide. I just want — I asked several
of my staff members to kind of tell me why they thought
it would be worthwhile, why they think it’s worthwhile
to work in the state archives. This is one of my most recent hires, my
electric records archivist, Megan Rohleder. She gave me permission to use that photo. She’s looking inside a box very cautiously. A transfer of records from
our governor’s office. We’re in the process of working through
identifying all of those records and making some sense out of them. But you can see her statement here that you
get to handle some of the coolest materials that are invaluable to your
state and its legacy. And in the time that she’s been here she’s seen
the state’s constitution, a large collection of territorial Kansas records, records
from the office of our state governor, countless photographs, maps, and drawings. She’s held letters by Abraham Lincoln
and Aaron Burr and seen diaries written by Carrie Nation and Samuel Reeder. And this is my favorite part, she
says yes you’ll get goose bumps. Yes you may even get a little misty. But it makes it all worth it. So that’s my Megan. I really — I love her passion. And I think if you chose to join a state
archives, you would feel similarly. So thank you very much.>>Thank you very much. And now we have our second panelist for
today, Cathy, I’ll give the mic to you.>>My name is Cathy Popovitch, and I
work at the Illinois State Archives. To start off my section of this talk, I want to
give a little bit of background about me first and my motivation for entering
the archival field and how I ended up working in a government archives. And then I’ll take you through what I do here. And hopefully you’ll find something
in this talk that appeals to you and maybe you’ll consider
a career in the archives. So I have a bachelor’s degree in history. I originally was an education major. I went through all of the
internship hours and I got into — I think I was about two weeks into the
student teaching, and a lightbulb went off, and I realized that teaching just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t cut out for it. So much to my parents’ dismay, I dropped
the education component of my degree and really I had no idea what I
was going to do moving forward. Which was a little bit terrifying, to be honest. But I knew I was still interested in finding
a career in which I could facilitate learning and provide educational opportunities
for others. I really loved the one-on-one interactions
with my students, connecting with them and finding ways to teach them and
to connect them with their interests. So moving forward I knew that would be a key
aspect of any career that I would consider. Another thing I was looking for was variety. After college for a little while, I
scored standardized writing tests. So for 40 hours a week, I sat at a computer,
read a sentence or two, and punched in a score. And quickly learned that that wasn’t for me. You know, don’t get me wrong, I sometimes
appreciate hiding behind a computer all day. But I knew that I needed to go into a
field that got me interacting with people and I guess just working
different parts of my brain. And finally, I wanted a job where
I would constantly be growing, learning new things and new skills. So I started volunteering at
a public library actually. And in doing that I saw the
potential for a career in some form of information management field. So I decided to go back to school and
I got my master’s degree in library and information science from
the University of Illinois. And I specialized in special collections. After getting my master’s, I worked for
an engineering firm here in Springfield. I was the solo librarian for the
firm and all of its branch offices. And towards the end of my time there, I also helped them start building
their records management policies and procedures and kind of improving on those. So going into that job, I wasn’t really
sure that was the right job for me. So I guess this will be my first tip of the day. Don’t be afraid to take a
job that you’re unsure about or that you think isn’t 100%
of what you’re looking for. Being a solo librarian and doing
basically everything, I learned a lot and gained some really valuable experience. And at the very least, I learned that
I didn’t really want to be a librarian. And I also learned, discovered that I didn’t
really want to work in the private sector. Which is something I had never
really thought about before. I found that I wanted to be able to
help a diverse group of people and feel like I was making an impact on my
community and my state more directly. So kind of by word-of-mouth, I learned about the Illinois State Archives
and their internship program. I applied, I, you know, went
through the whole interview process, and was hired in August of 2014. And the internship program, it’s designed as
a one-year internship where you spend time in each unit of the archives, kind of
learning the ropes of that unit and how all of the different sections work together. So I interned for six months and then I was
hired as a records archivist in March of 2015. Next slide please. Matt talked a lot about the variations
across the state and territorial archives. So here’s just a little overview
about the archives in Illinois. We are a department under
the Secretary of State. We were established initially as a
division of the Illinois State Library. And then in 1957, Illinois
passed the State Records Act. We became our own department
underneath the Secretary of State. We hold government records for all
three branches of state government and we only collect government records in
Illinois — the Lincoln Presidential Library, that’s our state’s historic library. And they except family papers,
diaries, manuscripts — but we only take official
state government records. Within the archives, we have
several different units. Administrative unit, is our director, our
personnel liaison, our fiscal officer, the operations and reference
unit, they accession records into the archives and provide
reference services. We also have a unit called the IRAD, which
is the Illinois Regional Archives Depository. And they at seven regional universities
throughout the state, staff at the university, and graduate student interns
run a regional archives, which consists of local government records. I’ll talk about the publications unit a
little bit later because that’s where I work. We also have a conservation lab. We have a records management
unit that works with state and local agencies to set retention schedules. We also have a micrographics unit that
microfilms and scans, documents, photos, for the archives and for other state agencies. And so I’m showing you this to also
demonstrate that there are a lot of different opportunities
within state archives. So the chances are pretty high
that your particular skill set and your interests can be put to
good use in the state archives. Next slide please. I currently work in the publications
and finding aids unit. It meets a lot of my criteria that I mentioned
earlier, in that I am able to do a lot of different things, meet and work
with a lot of different people. It provides opportunities for me to
help people find what they’re looking for or to learn something new. And I’m constantly learning
new things about our state, about the archival field
and developing these skills. We put out a newsletter three times year. We usually highlight a document or collection,
which requires me to do some research. Some of our most recent articles
we’ve done have been on the excavation of the Cahokia Mounds in southern Illinois. Let’s see, the history of
our penitentiary system. The expansion of highways in the 1920s. So again, constantly learning
about things that I, you know, never really would’ve thought to learn about. We create and distribute
document teaching packets on different subjects related
to Illinois history. We have different flyers and
brochures about the archives and doing research with our collections. But probably the most important work that our unit does is the processing,
the arrangement and description. The operation section accessions the materials,
but before they can be used or made available to the public, we have to do the arrangement and
description to provide that intellectual access. So here’s one very important way
that the work we do really helps to advance government transparency
and to aid our users, again, by providing that access
point with our descriptions. I would say this is the part of the
job that is a little bit more secluded. So if that kind of work appeals to you, there
are definitely opportunities for positions that don’t have quite as
much public interaction. But as Matt mentioned earlier, it’s very rare
that you will have no interaction with others. Another duty I have is that I
represent the state archives at history and genealogy conferences
and symposia in the state. So in that way I’m kind of
our defacto outreach person. And again, this is another opportunity
for me to meet a diverse group of people, talk with them about our
collections, and hopefully get them to the materials that will be useful to them. I am not really much of a talker,
but I love hearing people’s stories. And going to these conferences
provides a great opportunity for that. People love sharing their stories, their family
histories, or the research that they’re doing. And it’s really invigorating to be around
groups of people that are so passionate about their work and their interests. And getting to do these kind of things,
you really get to see how the work that the archives does really impacts the people
and the community that you’re working for. Next slide please.>>So around here we kind of joke about the
ominous other duties as assigned responsibility in all of our official job descriptions. And this is the area that really brings
a lot of variety to the work that I do. I serve as the deputy coordinator for the Illinois State Historical
Records Advisory Board, or the ISHRAB. This is a statewide board which serves as
a review body for records, grant proposals, submitted to the HIPRC, which is
the grant-making agency affiliated with the national archives. The ISHRAB runs its own grant program for
smaller projects in the state and provides a lot of opportunities for archival
professional development. And working with this board, again, I
get to work with archivists in a lot of different types of institutions. So board members themselves, we have members from university archives,
business archives, genealogists. We have professors. And then also, in kind of running
the grant and scholarship programs, I get to connect with other archivists
throughout the state and even people who are performing archival
work but who aren’t archivists. So it’s a great opportunity to really
see what’s going on throughout our state. I do a lot with grant management, whether
that be writing grant proposals for projects at the archives or helping with the administrative side
of grants that we’ve received. So if you’re looking for another skill to gain,
grant-writing is a really good skill to have. I serve as our department’s liaison to the
Secretary of State communication’s department. So anytime somebody needs business
cards printed, forms updated or printed, that goes through me. And then I also give the occasional
group or class tour of our building. If you’re ever in Springfield, come visit us because it’s a very beautiful
building, lots of history there. And that pretty much sums up what I do. I feel very lucky to be where I am. It’s definitely not all sunshine and rainbows. I mean, we do after all work for the government. So that sometimes means that we
have to jump through a lot of hoops to get certain things accomplished. Really similar to probably any
other archival institution. We’re constantly having to advocate
for ourselves and educate others on the importance of the work that we do. We have to deal with the growing
idea or expectation rather that everything should be digital
and available on the Internet. Paper cuts are a daily threat. But it really is very meaningful
and important work. Matt talked about some of this earlier,
but state archives are looking for people who are adaptable to change, who
are flexible, willing to learn, you know, forward-thinking and creative. So if this sounds like you and you’re
passionate about government transparency and connecting people with their
government and their history, I encourage you to consider a career
in state or other government archives. And that’s all I have today. Thank you.>>Thank you very much. That was very interesting. And now I’m going to turn the mic over
to our third speaker for today, Kris.>>So my name is Kris Stenson. I am an administrator for the
Oregon Records Management Solution for the Oregon State Archives. And I will explain what that
is in just a second. You’ll probably hear some of
the same concepts you’ve heard from Matt and Cathy in my section here. And that’s not because we all shared notes and
said we were going to hammer the same aspects. It’s just that certain themes will tend
to come up, you know, at the same time. So I call my little section, I’ve
got a little subtitle for it — I have a tendency to like
cutesy little titles for things. So I’m calling my talk here,
All Roads Lead From Rome. Of course, that’s the opposite
of the traditional phrase. Or, How to be an ARN Professional
in a World That Won’t Stop Changing. So I’m going to use the term as a catchall, so
archives and records management professionals, you just by virtue of being in — working on
your MLIS’s or other variations of those degrees at the time you are right now, I’m sure you’re
aware of the rapidly-changing terminology that is utilized surrounding the worlds
of archives and records management, information management, information
governance, all those different concepts that are interlinked and
interconnected and if you put 12 people in a room they will all disagree
as to what they all exactly mean. I am notorious for running afoul of
precise language on this because I tend to prefer looser colloquial terms that
actually mean something to people. So in this case I’ve chosen to use ARM as a
shorthand for all of the various aspects of work that surround basically dealing with managing
and preserving records for short term, long term, and everything in between. And I’ve got some little images there. So we’ve got a succession
of formats that we see here. This is something I often
use with external outreach. So we’ve got a cuneiform tablet. And this also serves as a sort of demonstration
of the longevity and the shrinking longevity of the sort of records we work
with and the challenges we face. So cuneiform tablets, some of
them are 6000 years old or so. We can still read them. They’re still around. Papyrus, similarly had been
around for millennia. Paper for not all that much less, still static. Then we get up to digital formats like
a Word document which has been around — well, a Word document hasn’t necessarily
but word processing documents have existed for a couple decades, two,
three decades at most. And then we’re already sort
of moving into a world now where evermore folks are working
in much more dynamic platforms. They’re not dealing with static forms anymore. We’re dealing with complex software systems that
contain information in lots of different ways. And the records may or may not
exist as discrete forms anymore. And these are the sort of
challenges that we’re all looking at. Next slide please. So a little bit about me. So as I mentioned, I am currently
working for the Oregon State Archives, but I have a history going back to when I was
an undergrad at Washington State University. And I got an undergrad in history
with an anthropology minor. And then I got a master’s in Roman
history from the same institution. So clearly hence the Roman
reference in the first slide there. Clearly that is not a degree that
is replete with job opportunities. So those of you that have other
liberal arts degrees and came to this, you may feel my pain in this. In that, what do you know, I have this
degree because that’s what I like to do. But it did not immediately
turn into a bevy of job offers. So I kind of struggled after my master’s. Sort of just did work, regular ole work, for
a cellphone company for a number of years. And reached the inevitable
conclusion that I couldn’t keep going on like this, I needed to find something else. Now, I had in my time at Washington
State worked at the university archives for a time doing some processing of
collections and things like that. And that was actually my first introduction
to the existence of a degree known as an MLS. So the idea of a specific degree that was not
a PhD, that was for folks pursuing this area. So it was kind of new to me at that time. I went back to that thinking and decided
it was high time for me to go on and do it. So I packed up all my stuff with my new wife
and we went off across the country to Indiana, to go to Indiana University, to
pursue my master’s in library science. I wanted to do — I wanted to do
something different and get out there, and I don’t regret that decision. But it was a long, long drive. So there I focused on an archives track. So I did of course the usual array of classes,
but focused specifically on the archives track. And the head of the archives there was very much
focused on the next generation of archival work, which was electronic essentially. And so I got a tremendous amount of
experience and drive from that in terms of understanding areas in which there
was going to be a need in the field. So I did work through that. And this is going to be a little bit
of a lesson I loop back to later. But through that job working with the university
archivists — a man named Phil Banton. Who did some work for CoSA as part of
a large intrastate survey of the state of electronic records in the United States. Had done some work and then heard about
an opening at the Illinois State Archives and when I just recently graduated with my MLS. And so the Illinois State
Archives one state over, and so that is how I heard about the job there. Got the introduction and was able to get the job as electronic records archivist
for the Illinois State Archives. So actually Cathy and I were coworkers
for about a year before I moved on. So in my role there, I can tell you right
off the gates, I showed up and was told, you’re the expert, you tell us what
to do with this electronic stuff. That is an intimidating thing,
I will tell you that. It was exciting. It was something to be looked at as
the expert was a little daunting. But the reality is — the reality
is, is this is still an area where there is a need for that sort of field. So there was a lot of expertise in more
traditional aspects of archival work. There was not a lot of expertise
at that institution at the time in the realm of electronic records. So I did a lot of outreach and education. I traveled the state. Basically I did my preacher on a donkey routine,
where I’d just go to any government entity that wanted to talk and talk to them about how
they were managing their electronic records. To this day — you’ll note my
title at the time was archivist. So those that want to talk about a real
strict definition between records management and archives, I don’t really see it that way. And at the time I didn’t either. The idea is that I blended areas. I talked about doodle preservation but I
also talked about active records management. Both are sides of the same coin. So that’s a lot of what I did there. Traveled around a lot. Helped draft new rules for the
state, which is pretty exciting. So I helped draft rules that
are still on the books there. So while my name might not be
on them, I know I did that. So that’s a pretty cool thing. From there I was able to move on to
my ancestral homeland, so to speak, where I grew up, which is the Pacific Northwest. And get back here to Oregon. There was an opportunity to lead — it was an opportunity to take charge of this really ambitious projected called
the Oregon Records Management Solution. Which is a statewide initiative where we
helped facilitate electronic records management software for government agencies
large and small. When I got here, we had somewhere about
30 client agencies, 25/30 client agencies. And it was kind of we were
needing to expand and do more work. I’m proud to say we’re up to 57 now. We’ve grown tremendously in the last few years. And it’s just been a very
exciting project to be part of. But has very much also strained my expertise. So I’ve had to learn constantly. The sort of work I do is often not
what you would consider archival work in a traditional sense. And as you’ve no doubt determined by now,
I am also sort of professional talker. This is often how I get my positions. So next slide please. Thank you. So keyword here — and this is sort
of one thing I have learned over time. The keyword is adaptability. And I mean that not only in your own willingness
to take on new challenges or explore new venues of work or opportunities, but also to be
adaptable in terms of the way you do your work. So first of all, when I — what were
my goals when I pursued this field? Well, first of all, steady employment. So having worked in a nonaffiliated
sector for a few years, sort of feeling my soul slowly being crushed
week after week, I knew I wanted something, first of all, that would give me
steady employment in the field. I wanted to be able to work. So I learned my lesson from my MA. I also wanted to do something that
would drive the field forward. I wasn’t interested in sort of just filling
a place as people might have before, show up at a job, do the job and leave
the job and have no real movement in that. I’m not interested in being static. And my third goal is I wanted to have a
proactive and positive impact on society. Now, there’s lots of ways
you can go about doing this. I wasn’t necessarily focused on a particular
kind of institution or a particular kind of job. But I knew I wanted to have something that
I would feel that I did something good for other people, for society at large. And so to do that, and this is something I
always advise people, cast a very wide net. I will tell you point blank that those people — so when I graduated, I got my MLS still
in the heavy parts of the recession. It was not a great time for job searching. It was a challenging time. And it was 2011. And I have a lot of friends and colleagues who
struggled to find work for quite some time. It took me about six months to
procure a full-time position at an archives, which was not too bad. But I knew others that struggled for longer. And that’s not to sound negative,
it’s just that you — the ones that struggled the
most I think were the one that were trying to pigeonhole themselves. That were saying, I only want to work
in this specific aspect of the field. I only want to work in this location. So casting a wide net, being
open to new opportunities, was the number one thing
that gave me an opportunity. I applied for all types of archival work
because I didn’t know what I’d be good at yet. And to that I say, so you don’t know
what you’re good at until you try. So we all come out with our education. We learned a wide variety of topics. Maybe we have some areas we really like and
some that we’re maybe less enthusiastic about. But we haven’t really had extensive
experience in applying those skills. So we really don’t know what
it is we’re going to excel at. And so I always say, you know, look for all the
types of opportunities that might be out there. Be persistent, of course. And this is — you know, I won’t
belabor this, but people know. I sent out dozens upon dozens of resumes
and got very little response back. And that is pretty typical. There’s a lot out there. I think it’s probably better now than it
was when I was searching, I hope it is. But it’s always challenging. And you can’t get down on yourself. You have to just keep trying. Also, perfect opportunities are rare. You’re rarely going to find
something that checks all your boxes. So what you do is, and I do this as well — I
made a list of things that I was willing to try. Things that were a hard no, which I tried to
keep a small list, things that were a hard no, whether it was location or a type of
work that I just didn’t want to do. And then I had others where I said, you know,
that’s good enough or ones that I really wanted. But there are always opportunities. So don’t overlook the good enough one
and, you know, hoping for a perfect one. Because the perfect ones
really don’t exist very often. It’s very rare that you’re going
to find yourself in that situation. Next slide please. Okay, so it’s good to be needed, right. So a lot of this — there
was a lot of discussion, I know when I was graduating
a few years back, about the — or when I was in school, was
the graying of the field. And that’s not a pejorative term,
it’s simply saying that, you know, there was a large generation of
archivists and records managers that were nearing the end of their careers. There were going to be a lot
of retirements, imminent. Well, the recession kind of put a pause on that. So we saw a lot of folks that were going to
retire not retire, hold on for another five or six or seven years as their
pensions, you know, had problems or whether they couldn’t make the numbers work. So that expertise in large part is still around. We are starting to see a lot of those
retirements and there is a need. But there are still a lot of those folks around. But what are they best at is often the
more traditional aspects of the field. These are folks that are — they may be very
gifted at managing manuscript collections, at doing traditional appraisal work,
at creating handcrafted finding aids with great amounts of detail. The sort of work that quite
frankly is not the future of it. And they need people, they need people
that can help drive that next generation of skills into their institutions. State archives in particular
bear a huge responsibility for ensuring government transparency
and access to information. So it’s very important, they need people
with these next-generation skills. Because they are — as Matt and Cathy eluded
to — you know — we’re getting the stuff. The stuff is coming to us, all manner of
records from different types of agencies, in whatever formats they
may have been created in. These days overwhelmingly digital. And the archives don’t always have the tools in
place and the expertise in place to handle that. So there is a great need for folks
to step in and take that role. And they really need skills that are not
necessarily part of the traditional ARM toolkit. Now, I know — I’ve talked to Pat and I
know the program at SJU has done a great job at really driving innovation in
these next-generation skills. So that is important. And so as the others have said,
these next-generation skills that are not traditionally
considered part of it are critical. So it’s a big opportunity for folks
coming in the field right now, of making a difference, of
setting themselves apart. I can tell you right now, having been part
of both being hired and also being a part of the process where we are looking to
hire other people here at the archives. We brought on a few people in my
time here that I had a role in doing. And we were looking for people
with these skills that will match. A more solid experience in some cases. We’re looking for folks in
particular that have people skills. Now, that’s something that was
not traditionally considered. Also, training and teaching experience. So any sort of outreach. The ability to talk to other
people is an important thing. And I understand not everybody’s a natural
extrovert such as me, and I know that. But it’s still as important. You cannot hide in a room and have that be a
viable profession anymore, it’s just not a way. Because you in many cases will
have to defend your field. You will have to advocate for yourself and for
your institution regardless of where you’re at. And if you can’t express what you need in a way that other people can understand,
you will find yourself short. Comfort with technology, of course,
that’s — technical skills are critical. And I think we’re aware of that point. And also a willingness to learn and adapt. Because if we’re stuck on one thing, again, we’re not going to be able
to keep up with the pace. Next slide please. So this is something I like to
say in a lot of my presentations, in that the work is not the profession. So we are all members of or should shortly
be members of this greater profession that we call archives and records
management or information management or whatever we want to call it these days. The goal of this profession is to ensure
the preservation and access of records for the appropriate period of time. So that doesn’t mean that
everything is permanent. As Matt said, that’s like 5% of
records are permanent, or less. But it also means that we help facilitate
access to and preservation of records for whatever their lifespan may be. Because there are a whole bunch of records that
live in the gray zone, between 10 and 90 years, you know, and that kind of whole big wild west. And those of us that work more on the records
management side of it have a major role to play in that, to make sure those records are
preserved for the appropriate period of time. So when I say the work is not the profession, I mean the work is just the task
we perform to accomplish that goal. The goal is what we’re aiming at. There is a tendency, especially when
folks have done a job for a long time, to mistake the tasks they
perform for the goal in itself. So they have procedures they follow
because that’s the way things are done. And they don’t always stop to question
themselves and say, you know what, I think we’re actually missing
the bigger picture here. So we always want to be asking, is this
task actually serving our goals anymore? Or is this something we can move on? And this is not to say we’re just going
to burn everything down and start over. Expertise built over years and the folks
that work there have been doing this for decades have a lot of
valuable knowledge that we need. I rely on that. I often say, I don’t know a lot about the stuff. What I do know is what we need to
do to help bring this stuff forward. And so I need the people that
understand the collections, that understand the things we’re working with, just as much as they need me to
help express that externally. So for us to be able to outreach. But are the tasks actually serving our goals? I do not ever want to be in a
situation where we’re saying, that’s just the way it’s always been done. So that’s critical. Don’t treat it orthodoxy if it doesn’t work. So I know some folks — and I
remember this from school as well. Some folks are big on, this is the way
things are done, this is the way it’s written in the text, this is how
it’s supposed to be done. And that’s great when you
have the luxury of time and all the resources you
need to do things perfectly. But what I love about government work to
extent is the fact that the very downside that we don’t always have the resources we
need, that we don’t have infinite resources and time, means we have to be creative. We have to do it fast and dirty sometimes. We have to do good enough work. It’s NPLP at a massive scale. And it’s kind of exciting that way. Because we have an opportunity to make things
work even when we’re not just handed everything. So that’s for me that’s an exciting thing. Maybe not everybody finds that exciting. But I find it rewarding. We do need to learn to speak the
language of the communities we work with and respect their experience. So by this I mean — I’m frequently having
to do outreach, for lack of a better term, and training for all manner of people
at different government agencies that come from very different backgrounds. We have people that know nothing about records. We have IT people and administrators
and HR folks, folks that do work that I don’t even understand in the slightest. And I need to be able to convey the importance
of aspects of records management to them in a way that means something to them. So it means learning their language. It means I speak half IT, I speak
half admin, I speak half budget. Nowhere in there do I try to
speak records management to them if they don’t already understand it or grasp it. Because that is a turnoff. So again, it’s a challenge. It’s a people problem. It’s a way in which we have
to interact with folks. So that’s why I do a lot of things that are not
considered archival or records management work. Very little of what I spend my day
doing would be considered that. And yet the greater goal is ensuring that these records are preserved
properly and get the treatment they need. One other thing I’d say before I
move on to the last slide here — not last slide, second last slide —
is that best practices, which exist and people love to point to, are great. But you know who writes the best practices? People in our field. We write the best practices. And you might be part of the next group
that writes that next best practice. So always look at that and
go, is this still serving us? Is this still going to be
the thing that we need? The beauty of this field
is it’s not that massive. And so you will have a role to
play if you want to have a role. They are always looking — whether at CoSA or
NAGARA, which is another government records and archivists association I work with,
or any of the other associations related to different aspects of the
field, SA, of course. You have an opportunity to have a
voice and really engage in that. And government particularly
is a very tightknit community. Next slide please. Okay, and so the beauty of the
immaterial is what I call this. So I get asked sometimes,
don’t I miss the stuff? Because I barely work with the stuff. I don’t touch records very much. But what I do is I joke, I work
with the stuff of the future. So I am setting the table for the
next generation of researchers. And so while I might not — current
genealogists may not see the work I do, for example, having a lot of value. And folks, when I say I work for an
archives, they immediately go, oh, you know — they immediately go back to stuff
they’ve seen on TV or whatever. That’s not what I do. But I’m going to do the same
thing for the folks in the future. So this is a cool thing. I work at the system level,
not the record level. So this is another opportunity for folks that — I’m dealing on information
systems that manage records. Because when we start dealing with scale,
especially with electronic records, if you start to look at the stuff
itself, you’re already lost. But impacts are magnified. So you make one change and it
can affect millions of records. So if you don’t want to get stuck
doing the same thing for years, good news everyone, this is a good opportunity. They’re constantly changing. We’re constantly having to adapt. And you get a chance to solve real problems
that impact people every single day. And what’s so exciting about this is that I talk
to people that previously barely knew we existed that certainly didn’t give our field respect,
and I turned them into advocates for us. Next slide please, final slide, I promise. Okay, so last little summation. State archives, opportunities
to diversity your skills abound. So they’re always looking for
somebody to try something new. Hey, do you know how to do this? Because we never have a specialist
for every thing. So you get to learn. So I’ve learned IT. I’ve learned legal aspects. I’ve learned how to deal with mobile devices. I’ve learned social media
capture and transparency. I’ve learned how to handle, you know,
server infrastructure to some extent. Now, it doesn’t mean I’m an
expert on any of these things, and please don’t leave me
in charge of all of them. But you get to dabble in a lot of things. You have a significant impact on
society, even if they don’t think you do. I personally have a hand in helping
agencies provide proactive public access to records through web portals. Which is cool. They can access their own records. They were never able to do that before. You get to unleash your creative
problem-solving, you know. So you have 90% of what you need to put
it together, you have to come up with that remaining 10% and out of whole cloth. As I mentioned before, there’s a great
community of government ARM professionals. I have great friends and colleagues
that I’ve known through working in this and committees and things. I really love the people I work
with, both internally and externally. So go state. That’s all I got.>>Thank you very much. Those were three fantastic presentations. And what a wonderful opportunity for
students considering what they’re going to do after they graduate to learn more about
different positions within the state archives. I’d like now to open the session to questions. If anyone in the audience has a question, unmute
your mic and go ahead and feel free to ask. While they’re thinking, I was wondering
if you had any recommendations? I know you mentioned CoSA and NAGARA, Kris. I wonder if any of you have other
recommendations for membership in professional associations,
and how that might be beneficial to you in pursuing a career later on>>>There’s lots of different
organizations that kind of overlap. So you’ll find — some of them you just
kind of find when you’re in a field, the areas that you need to learn. So I have found a tremendous
benefit from learning from — I’m not a member of — but learning from AIIM. What’s that, Association of Image.>>Information and Image Management.>>Thank you. They put out some great resources. They have classes available that have really — I took some information governance
classes from them that were great. So they’re kind of an affiliated community. There’s ARMA for records
management, that is, you know, specific in that field, specific in that track. I’m currently working on my
certified records management exam, the CRM, which is put out by ICRM. They sort of exist as a licensing
body, so to speak. Honestly, I’ve gotten the most out of
CoSA and NAGARA because it is a community. So CoSA, the Council of State
Archivists, is a very tight community. And I’ve been part of their state
electronic records initiative since almost since its beginning. Which is cool. They have a lot of subcommittees
talking about a lot of these issues. And then NAGARA is a broader organization
that covers all levels of government, federal and down to local, and
has great communities as well. And I’ve done a lot of work with both of those. Do either of you two have
other ones you work with?>>Well, our national organization for
archivists generally is the Society of American Archivists, while not devoted
to or dedicated to government archives, certainly includes a lot of government
archivists in it and addresses a lot of the issues related to
government archives work. So I would always encourage young archivists
or new archivists to join that organization. And there are regional organizations. The Midwest Archives Conference
is the one that’s in my region. But there are regional archival organizations
across the country that are also very valuable.>>And you could also — Illinois doesn’t
have a statewide archives association, but we have the Chicago Area Archivists. Obviously that’s a big population center for us. So even though I’m about three hours
south of Chicago, I’m a member. Just to stay kind of connected
with what’s going on in the state and with the archives community in our state.>>And I think that’s a good point. Sometimes it’s difficult to travel to
conferences that are — national conferences. And you have a better opportunity of
becoming involved when you look to the local or the regional associations to get started. So that’s a good point. I know that you mentioned and Kris,
they’re working on standards now in California having to do
with electronic records. So many of these associations do
get involved in standards work. And I was wondering if any of the three of
you have also been involved in standards work?>>Yeah, I got involved in and
have continued to be involved in something called the Kansas Electronic
Recording Commission that established standards for the state of Kansas for the electronic
recording of land records, of, you know, mortgage records, and things like that,
with the Registry of Deeds offices. It was one of those where it’s a statutory body
and the person writing the statute just happened to be someone who I’d come into contact with. So he added the state archivists
to the commission. And it’s been a really valuable tool for me to
— really for contacts, to network with people in the like the title industry, in the
mortgage industry, in the banking industry, and people that I wouldn’t
ordinarily come into contact with. And it’s an opportunity to
kind of educate them about some of the archival issues that we encounter.>>That’s a very good way to take
advantage of the people that you meet in a good way, in order to [inaudible].>>Yeah, I think all three of us probably are
pretty good at leveraging any conversation and turning it towards archives
in one way or another.>>That outreach like Cathy
had been talking about, right?>>Right.>>Exactly.>>Go ahead.>>I was just saying, I too have been
involved in — certainly at a state level — crafting rules, so administrative
rules, both here at Oregon, Illinois, for electronic records guidance. And that’s something I had the
opportunity to do, extensively in Illinois, spent a lot of time working on over there,
and then also a little bit here in Oregon. So that’s pretty neat. And obviously is an easier way to
start — you know, after a while, you do a couple of those things, next thing you
know, somebody from NARA’s calling you or people from some of the bigger intrastate organizations
calling and asking if you’d be willing to participate in their white papers or
in their standards and best practices.>>Exactly. And that’s such a good way to elevate
the image of the profession, the archives and records management profession. Now, I’d like to know if anyone
else in the audience has a question? If not, then what I’m going to do
is thank the three of you very much for being here today and presenting for us. It was a fantastic afternoon.