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ARSCLIST  September 2005

ARSCLIST September 2005

Subject:

Re: Job Posting [long-ish]

From:

Peter Hirsch <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 16 Sep 2005 00:32:09 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

Karl, Richard, Steven, et al,

I feel somewhat apologetic for seeming to favor "official" certification 
(a MLS degree) over subject experience and expertise when I was only 
trying to say that a librarian with this degree might have some 
advantage over someone without (all other things being equal) when 
working in a library environment ca. 2005 AD.

My personal experience was that I was hired in 1989 by a company (you've 
heard of them and seen their data, believe me. All I want to say is they 
are not AMG) engaged in compiling a database of classical music CDs. I 
was hired solely on the basis that I was a guy "who owned all these 
thousands of weird records and knew everything about them". This worked 
out to some degree, but there was a limit to how well we could present 
ourselves in venues other than record stores if we were cataloging 
solely on our instincts (and, frankly, mine were mostly good instincts, 
based on decades of exposure to recorded and live music as a performer, 
listener and collector). My insistence that the company (OK, it was 
called MUZE, you dragged it out of me) make me literate in cataloging by 
sending me to library school was based on the fact that I was attending 
Music Library Association conferences as a vendor and I knew that we 
could sell a product to libraries much better if I knew MARC format and 
understood the importance of authority control (among other things).

Now, the issue of the bad fit of archival materials within a library 
environment is well taken, though not necessarily one that can't be 
overcome. I actually work in the same archival unit at NYPL as Matt (a 
very knowledgeable person and first rate discographer), who you refer 
to.We have had many interesting conversations about this specific 
problem. Some of the difficulty actually lies in the archivist's 
inability to look at material through a librarian's eyes and some 
(definitely a majority) the other way around. I was working as a 
librarian in the recorded sound circulating collection here when I 
applied for an archiving position in the research music division and was 
hired mostly on the basis of my librarian credentials and my substantial 
subject area knowledge (and maybe my enthusiasm, too). I had never 
worked as an archivist before and I had no formal training in this area 
as part of my MLS studies. The experience of the year and a half working 
on processing and documenting the collection I was responsible for was 
both exhilarating and humbling in the end. I did good (in my own 
estimation and I believe that the thanks of a number of researchers 
using the collection were sincere) overall, but I learned most of my 
lessons on useful archival practice by the school of hard knocks. Having 
gotten some academic study under my belt prior to this would have only 
been beneficial and that, again, is what I was trying to say about why 
it may not be so bad to add library school (or archival certification) 
study to one's life experience.

I am feeling a temptation now to start to delve into why our area of 
recorded sound is particularly ill-served both by paper-centric 
libraries and archives (except, of course those that you on this list 
work for) and further undermine my original stance in support of going 
out and beefing up your street cred with a nice college degree, but 
maybe I ought to stop now and take a few deep breaths.

All right, I've deleted all the additional ramble that tumbled out the 
last few minutes and I think I'll close here.

My respectful best,

Peter Hirsch


Karl Miller wrote:

>On Thu, 15 Sep 2005, Steven C. Barr wrote:
>
>  
>
>>My real point was that folks in upper-level archiving positions
>>often lack the innate knowledge which they really need to complete
>>their tasks...and I don't think anyone is able to provide that
>>knowledge, which is unfortunate and which also affects the
>>quality of our archives and archival data. Dunno how to fix that,
>>though...
>>    
>>
>
>I agree that archive management is well served by those with an intimate
>knowledge of the subject. Library (or information schools) are primarily a
>training ground for librarians. Archival work is very different in terms
>of the depth of subject specific knowledge required, as well as knowledge
>of the organizational methodologies which are specific to archives,
>which, by definition, are not the same as one finds in libraries.
>
>One of my most informative off list exchanges was with Matt at New York
>Public...I don't want to misquote him...and feel to correct me, but I
>believe he suggested that one of the problems is that libraries often
>assume responsibility for archives. They are really very different.
>
>I also believe that subject specific knowledge is the most important job
>qualification  in any research collection (library), but not at
>the expense of some familiarity of library procedures. I am pleased when I
>read a job posting for an archive or research collection, which states
>the qualification "MLS, or its equivalent in training and/or experience is
>preferred."
>
>Karl
>
>
>  
>

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