Philip Montgomery 2016-03-14 15:03:46
Conversations with strangers inevitably lead to the question “What do you do?” This is invariably followed by a puzzled look and another question, “What is an archivist?” While the quick explanation may include sweeping generalities like “preserving the past for the future,” the essence of what an archivist is can be summed up in the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA) Role Delineation Statement (RDS) for Professional Archivists. Originally developed as the foundation for a certification exam, the Role Delineation Statement has become one of the most important tools in defining the role of the archivist. ACA, which was established by SAA in 1989, created the RDS to “define the knowledge, responsibilities and skills necessary for professional archival work,” according to ACA’s Handbook for Archival Certification. Once every five years, ACA’s task force of experienced Certified Archivists—the designation is CA—reviews the RDS so it remains relevant in our evolving field. The RDS is important not just to ACA but also to the entire archival profession. What most people don’t know is how the RDS can serve them in a number of ways: to guide curriculum in academic archival programs, in job descriptions of archivists, and in archival research. How Others Are Using the RDS The RDS outlines seven major domains of archival practice: selection, appraisal, and acquisition; arrangement and description; reference services and access; preservation and protection; outreach, advocacy, and promotion; managing archival programs; and professional, ethical and legal responsibilities. These seven domains can be used in creating curriculum. “We used the knowledge domain as a basis for building the syllabus not only to create the university’s Graduate Academic Certificate in Archival Management, but also to justify the establishment of the certificate program in the first place,” said Morgan Davis Gieringer, head of special collections and university archivist at the University of North Texas Libraries. The RDS is also a useful tool for employers creating or updating job descriptions for archival positions. Some positions require ACA certification while others define the position by listing the seven domains as the knowledge base upon which a job applicant will be judged. “We regularly update archival job descriptions using RDS, and HR determines Salary ranges and hiring based on these templates, so conveying the full set of professional skills required is important,” noted Sue Topp CA, manager for Motorola Solutions Heritage Archives. In some work environments, credentialing is significant. “A designation, and by corollary the role delineation, provides leverage in an organization where archives are not the main business. By earning and using the CA, others in the organization understand that you are qualified and knowledgeable in your function,” added Sarah Polirer CA, manager of corporate research at Cigna Corporation Research-Cigna Archives. The RDS even serves as a resource for scholars who, through their research, define best practices for the profession. Lois Hamill, university archivist and associate professor at Northern Kentucky University, is working on her second book. “As part of my research, I looked at the RDS for arrangement and description as one of my many resources,” Hamill said. Make your work easier and refer to the RDS. The most recent version, updated in 2014, can be found in ACA’s Handbook for Archival Certification or downloaded at http://www.certifiedarchivists.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/handbook.pdf. Become a Certified Archivist ACA now has 17 exam locations across the country for the certification exam on August 3, 2016. These locations are Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu, Little Rock, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Raleigh, San Antonio, Seattle, Syracuse, Tampa, and Waco. ACA will also have pick-your-site locations wherever 5 or more applicants want one. The deadline for applications is May 15 and the exam fee is $50. To learn more about certification, go to http://www.certifiedarchivists.org/get-certified/.
Published by Society of American Archivists. View All Articles.