Archivists preserve the records of the past, in the form of all types of documents: books, papers, maps, photographs and films. They take charge of the documents in national and local archives, universities, hospitals, businesses, etc. their job includes the selection of material, indexing and cataloguing, and giving help and advice to archive users. This is a small profession requiring a strong academic background.
Nature of Work
Archivists’ work combines scholarly research with the selection, prevention, arrangement and description of documents such as official records or private deeds, or business records, etc. they assess the value for posterity of papers being currently produced and preserve and put in order, for reference purposes, all types of records which were produced in the past.
Archivists determine what portion of the vast amount of records maintained by various organisations, government agencies, corporations, educational institutions, hospitals, museums, libraries, research bodies, families or individuals should be made part of permanent historical holdings and which of these records should be put on exhibit. They maintain the records in their original arrangement according to the original creator’s organisational scheme and describe records to facilitate retrieval.
Records may be saved on any medium – paper, film, audio/video tape, electronic disk or computer. They may also be copied onto some other format to protect the original form repeated hanging and to make them more accessible to researchers who use the records. They must understand methods of preservation and repair, of microfilming and new technologies. With the advent of computers and the evolution of various storage media, archivists must keep updated on technological advances in electronic information storage techniques and technologies.
Archivists are to be found working in libraries, museums, historical societies, or maybe an archival unit within an organisation. Archivists may have to help research scholars, the public in their search for information, lawyers in search of evidence, or genealogists.
National Archives of India (NIA) is the official custodian of all non-current records permanent value of the Government of India and its predecessor bodies. It is the premier organised record repository in Asia and has four regional repositories at Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur and Pondicherry.
Among its major activities are imparting training in the field of archives administration, records management, reprography, repair and conservation of record, books and manuscripts at professional and sub-professional levels.
Often archivists specialise in the management of current records especially in business and industry. They may also work with specialised forms of records – manuscripts, photographs, motion pictures, electronic records, sound recordings etc.
Physical and Psychological Requirements
A strong sense of history, an interest in heritage and information management, liking for painstaking research, curiosity, and the ability to communicate with a wide variety of people. Archivists should possess practical ability since the work requires such skills in the physical care of records. They should pay meticulous attention to detail. Archivists need research and analytical ability to understand the documents and the context in which they were created. For archival work, a certain level of technical competency and ease with technology is essential.
An appropriate academic base for archival studies could be history or library science or graduation with experience in archival work. As it is a small discipline, there are very few courses which helps meet the demand for archivists. For some specialised positions a background in science or medicine or business is required.
Courses in Archival Studies/Science and related disciplines are usually of one-year duration.
The National Archives of India with its four regional repositories in Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Jaipur and Pondicherry is involved in preservation and maintenance of records and conducting scientific investigations for making public records possible to various government agencies and research scholars.
The NAI also renders technical aid to individuals and institutions in the field of conservation of records. It also imparts training in the field of archives administration, records management, reprography, repair and conservation of records, books and manuscripts at professional and sub-professional levels.
The NAI provides financial assistance to state archives, voluntary organisations and other custodial institutions, so that documentary heritage is preserved and archival science is promoted. Competition for jobs as archivists is expected to be competitive. Those with the highest levels of specialised training and the most suitable previous academic profile can take their pick of the best jobs. In the government there are good openings though business are also interested in employing archivists.
Advancement can take place within an organisation if it is a sizeable division. Otherwise archivists advance by transferring to a larger unit/ organisation in a supervisory position. A doctorate degree in archival studies or in history or library science would be helpful for advancing to the highest positions as Director of a state (government) archive.
Society of Archivists, information House, 40 Northampton Road, Lonson EC1R 0HB
The recognised qualification in the UK is a postgraduate diploma in archive studies or administration. This is usually taken as a one-year full-time course at one of four universities in the UK.
Subjects include paleography, record office management, research methods, conservation methods, editing, some history and law.
Society of American Archivists, 527 South Wells St., 5th Floor, Chicago, IL 60607-3922 www.archivists.org
In the US, there are no bachelor’s or master’s degree programmes in archival science currently available. However, approximately 65 colleges and universities offer courses or practical training in archival science as part of history, library science or another discipline.
The Academy of Certified Archivists offers voluntary certification for archivists. Certification requires the person to have experience in the field and to pass an examination offered by the Academy.
Librarian & Information Manager
List of training institutions
Ahmedabad 380014 [estd.1920]
Phone: 7542959, 7541392
1-year PG Certificate in Archives
P.O. Annamalai Nagar 608002
Tamilnadu [estd. 1929]
Phone: 38259, 38283
PG Diploma in Archives Keeping Certificate in Reprography and Non-Book materials.
Gandhigram Rural Institute
Tamil Nadu [estd. 1956]
Phone: 452371-75 [PBX]
PG Diploma in Archives and Documentation & Management
Graduation with experience in Lib/ Archives OR
Certificate in Library Sciences area after BSc/MSc with relevant subjects
Andhra Pradesh [estd. 1918]
1-year PG Diploma in Archival Science & Manuscriptology
Graduates with 3 years experience
School of Archival Studies
National Archives of India
New Delhi 110011
1-year PG Diploma course in Archival studies
Short-term certificate courses in Reprography, Records Management, etc.
A postgraduate degree in History scoring at least 50% marks with at least one paper in Modern Indian History (post 1750 AD). Selection is through an aptitude test.
Pondicherry 605014 [estd. 1985]
Phone: 655177, 655184
1-year PG Diploma in Archival Studies
Master’s degree in relevant subject
Listing is indicative
Interested candidates are advised, in their own interests, to pursue specific information like details of admission procedure, domiciliary restrictions, time for applications, duration of training/ internship, etc., from the concerned institutions directly or keep track of the notifications in the national/local dailies and publications like Employment News/ Rozgar Samachar.