Daily Archives: August 28, 2013

Tech in the archives- what should I teach them?

Don’t get too excited. I’m not teaching a whole course. That didn’t happen. Yet. (Though I get the impression it may eventually be eminent…)

But I have been invited to speak to a graduate level Intro to Archives class about “Technology in the Archives” in November. The course instructor is basically giving me free reign to talk to the students about any and all tech-related stuff that I think they should know before going off to work in an archives today. Well, “any and all” that will fit into an approximately 2-hour discussion.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that technology has permeated practically every aspect of our lives these days, and yes, it’s made its way into the archives world as well, of course. So I’m trying to organize my thoughts as to what areas I would like to try to cover and how to arrange that discussion.

Right now, I think I’m going to start with some broad categories and go from there. Those categories are:

  • Access tools (technology-based ways of getting the “stuff” to the people)
  • Outreach/promotional tools (mostly social media since that’s a lot of what I was hired to do)
  • Organization tools (the behind-the-scenes ways of using tech to keep yourself from going completely insane as you attempt to manage, locate, preserve, etc. the beloved “stuff”)

I have plenty of ideas about what to talk about- web development, social media (SO MANY IDEAS), databases, digitization, digital asset management systems, metadata, digital preservation… And there’s always trolling the recent job posts to see what’s listed in those, tech-wise, under the required/desired skills.

But I thought I’d post an open forum to see what any of the rest of you might like to suggest to help me help the students. So I ask you, fellow archivists:

What “tech stuff” do you think is critical for future archivists (or heck, current archivists) to learn these days?

And when I say “critical,” let’s take that with a grain of salt and ride the line of generality- pretend this archivist is suppose to be a jack of all trades or perhaps a “Lone Arranger.” Obviously, there’s going to be some kind of continuum spanning from All-Things-Digital-Archivist to I-Only-Handle-Historic-Manuscripts-and-Have-Nothing-to-do-with-their-Digitization-Archivist. But even in the case of the latter, they probably still have a computer at their desk and the occasional (electronic) finding aid or database to contend with! But let’s aim for somewhere in the middle, because I only have 2 hours!

I also plan to sneak in some tech-related snippets of career advice. OK, so since I’m publishing that statement for all to see at the moment, it probably can’t really be considered “sneaking” at this point…but anyway.

So what do you think, folks? What tech stuff could you not live without? Or what tech knowledge (yours or others’) do you use frequently in your work as an archivist? Or what tech stuff do you wish they’d taught you (or at least warned you about!) in your formal library/archives training?

My talk is on November 6th, but I plan to have this PowerPoint geared up and ready quite a while before then, although it’s already a work in progress.