Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Job watch

As our regular readers will know, SQA monitors job advertisements for evidence of non-compliance with the law, archival professional ethics and relevant standards.

We regret have two further instances of disgraceful non-professional activity to report.

The December 2006 issue of the Archives, Records Management and Conservation job circular published by DP Media for the Society of Archivists [sic] contains an advertisement for the post of assistant archivist for the Church of England’s national institutions based at Bermondsey, London.

The advert is almost a parody of everything wrong with the management of archives at the dawn of the new millennium. Firstly, the successful candidate is required to have no more than an A Level or equivalent. This is an insult and kick in the teeth to qualified, professional archivists anywhere as it suggests archivists are not highly qualified professionals and undermines the reputation of those who are. Furthermore, whoever placed the advert or conceived the job description, is not worthy to employ an archivist.

The publication of the advert in a Society of Archivists publication is confirmation of the lack of professionalism of that so-called professional body. No such advert should ever have been published. There is not even an undertaking on the employer’s part to ensure the successful candidate will obtain a degree and postgraduate diploma in archive administration.

The salary offered is £23,950-£26,950 in other words less than the £27,000 minimum for economic viability (see our previous blog Are You a Waste of Space?)

Finally, the author of the advert misspells focused as focussed.

We asked SQA’s principal spokesman, Benedict Crumplethorne, to comment.

I’m almost lost for words. All I can say is what can you expect when the Church of England’s primate is a Welshman? Please can we have an Englishman next time? An Englishman would understand reputable and fair behaviour and natural justice.

The National Archives’ Standard for Record Repositories requires repositories to employ “one or more professionally qualified archivists with training or experience relevant to the kind of records held.” The advert also states “you will also deal with enquiries from the public.” The Standard states: “when in use the study area should be constantly supervised by sufficient staff to provide an effective level of invigilation of the whole area, under the direction of a professionally qualified archivist.”

Our next concern is an advert placed in The Guardian of 27 November 2006 for a moving image archivist at Yorkshire Film Archive, part of York St. John University.

We asked Garth Bland, county archivist of Loamshire, to comment on this.

The advert asks for candidates “educated to degree level in a relevant discipline.” This is a slightly tricky one. Yet again we have an example of a post described as an archivist for which the employer doesn’t require a qualified archivist. However, film archives aren’t archives anyway. Archives are administrative records including electronic records. These so-called film archives around the country are most worthwhile but they aren’t archives and their need to employ an archivist is not clear, although descriptive listing skills might apply. However, one respect in which these film collections, as I would rather they were called, definitely fails, is in their too wide a geographical base, resulting an inability to correctly identify and therefore describe film content.

We thanked Benedict and Garth for their comments.

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