I'm a relatively new preservation administrator still getting to know the ins and outs of hiring in my organization:
The only way new permanent positions get created in my organization is if someone leaves or retires. At that point, the hiring line goes back to the center and our administrative team looks at the needs across the entire organization (a huge research library inside a huge university) and decides where that line will be allocated; sometimes it's right back where it came from, but often it's not. Some positions (e.g. cataloging) perform operational work in existing workflows that will come to a halt until they are filled. Other work is more in the category of "things we're not yet doing but we should be". In the case of the former (pre-existing operational work), it's much easier to make the case for a permanent position. For the latter (new things we need to start doing), a temporary (max. 1 year, no benefits) or term (2 years, with benefits) is often where I need to start in order to build the case and demonstrate the need for a permanent position. For us, AV preservation falls in the latter category. We're not yet doing much of it but need to start.
I'm one of the people currently recruiting for a term position (https://www.jobsatosu.com/postings/77375). While I'd love to hire a full-time AV preservationist, the first step toward enhancing the preservation of our AV collections is to conduct a survey of those collections in order to get a better handle on what we have and what we need to do. That is work that can (and will) be done by someone we hire on a term contract (with benefits, for the record). With the survey information in hand, I may then be able to make the case for a permanent line. But I also really need a project manager for digital reformatting and a paper conservator, so I'll have to weigh my library's needs in each of these areas in making my staffing asks in the future.
Just one middle manager's perspective.
Emily Frieda Shaw
Head, Preservation and Reformatting
The Ohio State University Libraries
Libraries Tech Center
1165 Kinnear Road 125B Columbus, OH 43212
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From: ARSC Library and Archives Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Paul Jackson
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2017 2:19 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIB] A/V preservation jobs
This is part of the new GIG economy. That's where everyone is a contractor, and entities doing the hiring do not pay benefits. It's a consultancy world. Not too different than Adjunct professorships.
Lots of grants are pretty much static, i.e., short term and limited $$ at best. Once the money is spent, there may not be money to continue.
One such project is at Columbus College, where they have a retired archivist volunteer doing much of the cataloging. I've had three of these (paid) projects since retirement; payment pretty much covers expenses.
Many of these grants, depended upon by libraries and museums, may go away if Trump and the Republicans have their way with the budget request.
Paul T. Jackson
Steilacoom, WA 98388
On 3/23/2017 10:39 AM, Nathan Coy wrote:
> As an avid watcher of the job market in the A/V preservation world and
> the library field at large I am curious on thoughts about why A/V
> centric jobs seem to be primarily term positions while many other
> fields of library work aren't. If there truly is no shortage of work
> to be done in the same way there is no shortage of work to be done in
> cataloging, why then are significantly more (and more professional
> level) jobs that are permanent in the cataloging field as opposed to
> A/V preservation work? Is this attributed to lack of advocacy on part of professional organizations?
> Managers involved in financial decision making? Organizations able to
> get grant money for A/V and thus creating a cycle of term funding and
> hoping from project to project and institution to institution? I am
> genuinely curious about perspectives from individuals working in
> several different capacities. It seems this is a problem in the
> archival field (as I understand it an issue raised at the SAA
> convention somewhat recently about generational advocacy) in general,
> but is even more acutely present in A/V specific work as can be attested to through a survey of job advertisements.
> If this is the case, is promoting the field as a profession while not
> supporting it organizationally problematic?
> Nathan Coy
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