Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rogue employers, well almost

Following up previous posts on unsatisfactory salaries or person specifications at Durham, Bromley and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), we return again to Bromley where it seems a previous advertisement for the post of archivist at Bromley Central Library is being re-run.

Bromley Central Library

The salary offered is £25,440 to £27,009 which suggests a slight move in the right direction. The advertisement also states the successful candidate will be a qualified archivist. However, we asked Garth Bland, County Archivist of Loamshire, to comment on the Bromley situation.

I think we are dealing with quite a common situation, one not at all beneficial to the cause and promotion of archives. Many local government archive services are beholden to library services even to the extent they are physically contained within a library building. It goes without saying the building is branded as a library and the archivist reports to a librarian. Usually in this context, the archivist is seen as a specialist, almost as a specialist librarian. Indeed, I have seen many advertisements for hybrid archivist/librarians. Unless such post-holders are qualified archivists and librarians, and there are some such beasts, this is an appalling cheek and damaging to our profession.

We continue to fight a battle for the equipping of stand-alone archive repositories headed by qualified, professional archivists employed at the same level as chief librarians and museum curators. Municipal traditions are hard to overcome, as is the strong position library services are in when it comes to competing for funding and access to decision makers. University libraries are much the same. This gives rise to difficulties based on the more specialised needs of archive services and representing such to committees, quite apart from the wider public and politicians.

I tend to think archives authorities should respect the spirit of the National Archives’ Standard for Record Repositories, which states that

Beyond the very smallest, record repositories accordingly require the services of
(a) one or more professionally qualified archivists with training or experience relevant to the kind
of records held
(b) one or more professionally qualified conservators
(c) one or more non-professional archivist or records assistants, and appropriate clerical staff
(d) support staff, who may include word processor/keyboard operator(s), porter(s) and cleaner(s).

(section 2.2)

We thanked Garth for his contribution.

A scorpion and a frog met on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asked the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asked, "How do I know you won't sting me?" The scorpion said, "Because if I do, I will die too." The frog was satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stung the frog. As they both began to sink, the frog had just enough time to ask "Why?" And the scorpion replied: "Because it is my nature..."

Do you still not understand the nature of the EU?

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