Saturday, August 6, 2016

SAA day two: electronic records

Comb jellyfish at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia, 2 August 2016.
Even though I always make it a point -- at least when I'm paying my own way -- to attend a few Society of American Archivists conference sessions that have nothing to do with my current job responsibilities, I also seek out electronic records sessions that intrigue me or push me a little past my comfort zone. I attended two such sessions this morning: session 309, "DWG, RVT, BIM: A New Kind of Alphabet Soup, with a Lot More Heartburn," and session 409, "Working Together to Manage Digital Records: A Congressional Archives Perspective."

Thursday, August 4, 2016

SAA day one: diversity and inclusion

Atanta skyline, as seen from the steps of the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia, 2 August 2016.
 As has often been the case in recent years, I'm attending the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists on my own dime. Doing so has some obvious drawbacks, but it does have one very real advantage: I don't feel obliged to limit myself to attending only those sessions that relate directly to my current job responsibilities. Instead, I seek out those sessions that align with my other archival interests or promise to illuminate how the profession is changing.

Today, I attended a plenary session and two program sessions that, in various ways, focused on the necessity of and challenges associated with creating institutions that are truly serve all of the communities that make up our pluralistic, stratified society and collections that reflect our varied, complex, and unequal history.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A spy in the archives

I began working on this post in May, put it aside, and figured I would get back to it once life stopped getting in my way. And now it has: I'm en route to the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists and am three hours into a five hour flight delay. What follows is by no means earth-shattering, but at least my to-do list is one item shorter.

One of the things I love about being an archivist is talking with researchers about their interests and what they find in our records. My reference duties have brought me into contact with people who are incredibly gracious and enthusiastic, and I find their warmth and zeal contagious. At the same time, I'm always mindful that, as archival security experts frequently caution, researchers who seem eager to establish rapport and trust may have ulterior motives. Cases in point:
  • Barry Landau, who stole presidential and other documents from historical societies, university libraries, and government archives on the East Coast, brought cookies to one state historical society he and his accomplice repeatedly visited and gave cupcakes to the staff of the Maryland Historical Society shortly before he and his accomplice were caught stealing documents from the facility.
  • John Mark Tillman, who made a career of preying on antique dealers, museums, and archives throughout the Canadian Maritimes, was able to spirit documents out of the Dalhousie University Archives in part because he spent years winning the trust of the former chief archivist and becoming familiar with the repository's holdings and routines. Tillman was able to steal the keys to the facility's vault, duplicate them, and return them without being detected. He and his then-girlfriend entered the university library just before it closed, hid out in a women's restroom until the wee hours of the morning, and then entered the vault and stole letters written by George Washington, General James Wolfe, and other prominent people.
Landau and Tillman seem to have been driven by a mixture of greed, arrogance, and collecting impulses run amok. However, other thieves have been propelled by other drives.

In April of this year, the British Broadcasting Corporation announced that it had found in the archives of the Stasi, the intelligence and secret police agency of the former German Democratic Republic, a video recording of a speech that Harold Adrian Russell "Kim" Philby gave to Stasi officials in 1981. In it, Philby, a British double agent whose spying for the Soviets resulted in the deaths of Western agents and Central and Eastern European anticommunists, discusses his life and his work. Despite his upper-class background, Philby became a communist while at Cambridge University and was recruited by Soviet intelligence shortly afterward. After covering the Spanish Civil War for a London paper, he was hired by the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6, and was initially charged with monitoring German espionage in Spain and Portugal.

Philby very quickly began funneling information to his Soviet handlers, and much of the information he provided came right out of the MI6 archives. How was he able to gain access to vast quantities of intelligence records without arousing suspicion? He befriended the man who was in charge of the organization's documents room:
I came to the point where, every two or three times a week, I'd meet him after office hours for drinks. He became a close friend, had full confidence [?] in me, and so I could ask for papers which had nothing to do with German espionage in Spain or Portugal, but which he would nevertheless send me as a friend whom he trusted . . . . Every evening, I left the office with a big briefcase full of reports which I had written myself, full of files taken out of the actual archives. I was to hand them to my Soviet contact in the evening. The next morning, I would get the files back, the contents having been photographed, and take them back early in the morning, and put the files back in their place. That I did regularly, year in, year out.
 (The above transcription is mine, and Philby's discussion of his relationship with this MI6 employee begins at 11:40 in this BBC Radio 4 broadcast.)

In retrospect, it seems easy to regard this records officer -- a former police officer with a serious drinking problem -- as a fool. However, Philby fooled everyone. His superiors thought him impressive, and many of his colleagues thought that he might one day become the agency's head. Moreover, as Philby's biographer has argued, MI6 traditionally regarded its operatives -- almost all of whom were recruited from the upper echelons of British society -- as being inherently trustworthy because they and their families all moved within the same social and professional circles. It wasn't until 1951, when two other MI6 agents who had been recruited by Soviet intelligence while studying at Cambridge defected to the Soviet Union, that the agency began coming to grips with the fact that having "the right sort" of background was no guarantee of loyalty. Philby, who was a close friend of both of these double agents, was rather gently investigated and forced to resign in 1955, but he was allowed to rejoin MI6 several years later. British authorities began closing in on him in earnest late 1962, but MI6 put a longtime friend in charge of the internal investigation and kept him under cursory surveillance. Philby slipped away and defected to the Soviet Union, where he lived until his death in 1988.

I am no expert on MI6's internal security procedures -- and if I were, I almost certainly wouldn't be blogging about it -- but I think it's safe to say that access to MI6's documents rooms -- and servers -- is now sharply limited and carefully scrutinized. However, even those of us who don't work in national security settings should never forget that a few of the kindly, supportive researchers we encounter are in fact seeking to exploit us and the records in our care. Records that either have intrinsic value or contain information that could be used to facilitate identity theft or other crimes abound in archives, and those of us who care for records have to ensure that our desire to be friendly and helpful never compromises our efforts to protect our collections and the restricted information found within them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

NYAC 2016: Careers in Archives

The bronze statue of Samuel de Champlain atop Plattsburgh, New York's Champlain Monument overlooks the lake that bears the explorer's name, 7 June 2016. Champlain never visited what is now Plattsburgh, but many of the area's inhabitants are descendants of the French settlers who arrived in his wake.
Whenever I attend a conference, I make it a point to attend at least one session that isn't directly relevant to my job responsibilities or my career path. It gives me the chance to put aside my preoccupations for a bit and to look at my profession from a slightly different perspective, at least for a little while, and I always find it refreshing.

When I was at the 2016 meeting of the New York Archives Conference in Plattsburgh, last Friday, I attended "Careers in Archives: The Ins and Outs," which focused on the varied career paths within archives and brought together five experienced archivists and allied professionals who have taken on archival responsibilities:
  • Jane Subramanian, SUNY Potsdam (emerita) 
  • John Thomas, Jefferson Community College 
  • Susannah Fout, Lake Placid Olympic Museum 
  • Anastasia Pratt, SUNY Empire State College and Clinton County Historian 
  • Susan Hughes, American Pomeroy Historic Genealogical Association 
The session was aimed at graduate students and new professionals, but I found it quite useful from the perspective of a mid-career archivist who regularly works with interns, dispenses the odd bit of career advice to graduate students, and who occasionally sits on a hiring committee. If you're new to the field or come into contact with people who are just finding their professional footing, I'll think you'll find the points that the panelists made extremely interesting. In the interest of brevity, I've organized them thematically.

Securing one's first professional job
  • An MLS/MIS degree from an American Library Association-accredited school remains the gold standard. If you want a job in a specialized library, specialized coursework is a good idea. However, if you insinuate yourself into an institution or find yourself taking on archival work without having had formal training, you can now pursue an MLS/MIS online. 
  • If you're committed to working in a given institution or a given region, you might have to take a related job and bide your time. One panelist who wanted to work with an archives/local history collection took a librarian position within the same institution, waited until the archives/local history librarian retired, and then approached the library director about transferring into the position. 
  • There are a lot of small museums, historical societies, and libraries out there, and there's a very good chance that you will be employed by such an institution at some point in your career. 
  • Do not limit yourself to archives-specific or library-specific jobs; archival skills translate very well to registrar and collections manager positions. 
  • You need to know how historians do research. If you can fit a historical research methods course into your schedule, by all means do so. 
  • If you're interested in working in a corporate archives, look for job postings on their websites, the American Association of State and Local History website (especially for internship positions), and as well as archives-specific listservs and websites. News of openings is sometimes spread by word of mouth, so network with board members if you can. Private businesses hire staff more quickly than non-profits, so proactively submitting a resume never hurts. 
  • A number of organizations provide grants to local governments and historical records repositories, and working as a short-term consultant or project archivist is one way to get your foot in the door; however, you should be aware that consulting work, in particular, has serious income tax implications. Contact grant funders and ask if they maintain a list of consultants. Watch their websites for news of awards and contact recipients as soon as announcements are made; recipients often don't hire a consultant until after they have received a grant and may need to get their project started quickly. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the organization to which you're applying; look at its website and its finding aids. Hiring committees can tell if you haven't done your homework. 
  • Have someone else proofread your resume or curriculum vitae; most of the panelists indicated that they have seen resumes that contained multiple errors – and promptly discarded them. 
  • If asked to submit a resume, do not send a curriculum vitae – and vice versa. 
  • Your cover letter is your chance to distinguish yourself from all the other candidates. Be sure that it addresses all of the main points in the job posting. Again, have someone else proofread it. 
  • Search committees are not looking for people who know everything. They are looking for people who know what they do know, what they don't know, and have some ideas about how they're going to learn what they don't know. (This is such an important point. The archival learning curve is infinite, and I would be deeply wary about hiring anyone who seemed convinced that s/he already knew all s/he needed to know.) 
  • A job interview is a two-way process. At the same time it gives your prospective employer a chance to evaluate you, it gives you the chance to evaluate your prospective employer. (Having heard my fair share of horror stories, I offer the following advice: if you walk out of an interview with the sense that your prospective employer is dysfunctional, think very, very carefully before accepting a job offer!) 
  • Walking out of an interview wishing you had said X is a very common experience. A post-interview thank you letter allows you to say it. 
Succeeding in one's first (or second, or third . . . ) professional job
  • If you are working in a smaller organization, be prepared to wear many hats. In smaller institutions, the roles of curator, registrar, and archivist are often rolled into one. You may also have fundraising, research, publicity, social media, tourism promotion, and ticket sales responsibilities. You will almost certainly have at least some IT responsibilities. In academic settings, you may have both library and archival responsibilities. 
  • Being pulled in multiple directions can be frustrating, but it can also enable you to learn new skills and make valuable contacts. One panelist who held a joint library/archives appointment found that the extensive faculty contacts she developed in her capacity as a librarian proved very handy when she decided she wanted to start an archives instruction program for undergraduates. 
  • Seek ways to make your collections more visible and accessible. Space is always limited and administrators are always looking to ensure that it is used as effectively as possible, so you want to be sure that your collections are being used. 
  • Making connections and pointing people to resources held by other repositories will be an essential component of your job. Depending upon your repository's collecting scope and researcher community, you may need to acquaint yourself with the staff and the holdings of repositories not only in your region but also in other states or nations. 
  • Continuing education is a must. Certificate of advanced study programs, online and in-person professional development workshops, and professional conferences will help you maintain and expand your knowledge and skills and make essential professional connections. 
  • If you are your employer's first professional archivist, tackling an extensive processing backlog may be your first assignment. You'll need to be able to figure out how to establish appropriate legal and intellectual control over your holdings – and to do so without a lot of staff or money. Solid organizational skills are a must. 
  • Prepare to steel yourself against poor-quality or out-of-scope donations – and to train colleagues and volunteers to do the same. 
  • Don't be satisfied with your collections as they are. Know what you don't have, and be prepared to do the work needed to expand your holdings. 
  • It's 2016. Even lone arrangers working in small organizations have electronic records in their holdings now. Be prepared to care for them.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

NYAC 2016: More Than the 40-Hour Work Week

Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains of Vermont as seen from the window at the end of the fourth-floor hallway of my Plattsburgh, New York hotel, 9 June 2016. Thanks to a zoom lens and some judicious cropping, you can't see most of the sprawl that surrounded my hotel or the windowpane condensation that affected a substantial portion of the view. When I got to the hotel, I was initially disappointed to find that my room window offered a commanding view of an access road and that the hallway window was badly fogged. However, the view from the hallway was in many respects akin to archival research: if you take imperfection as a given and deal with it creatively, you can find a lot of interesting and worthwhile things.
In a former life, I was a graduate student interested the historical intersections of labor, gender, medicine, and public policy. Then I became an electronic records archivist . . . who is still interested in the historical intersections of labor, gender, medicine, and public policy. How could I resist the very first session listed in the 2016 New York Archives Conference program -- "More Than the 40-Hour Work Week: A New Look at Labor Records"? I was not disappointed: all three presentations concerned lightly used records that contain a wealth of information of interest to historians of labor. In the process, they highlighted several topics that cry out for scholarly attention.

My colleague Emily Allen focused on the records of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), which administers the Taylor Law, which gives state and local government employees to unionize. PERB settles questions of union representation, provides mediation, fact-finding, and arbitration services in public employee contract disputes, and hears charges of improper practices by public employers, employees, and employee organizations. The New York State Archives holds thirteen series of investigation and case files created by PERB, but scholars have not made extensive use of them, in part because PERB's records are hard to access. PERB's website contains indexes to interest arbitration award case files (1974-2016) and PERB board decisions (1974-2014), and Westlaw's National Employee Reporter database indexes numerous case files, but those who lack a Westlaw subscription must consult multiple sections of the board's 48-volume Official Decisions, Opinions, and Related Matters in order to identify relevant case numbers and then ask the State Archives whether it holds the corresponding case files.

The State Archives is trying to determine how to streamline this process and encourage use of PERB's records, which contain some fascinating files:
  • In the early 1970s, inmates who were paid nominal wages to work in various state prison facilities repeatedly asserted that they were public employees and thus had the right to unionize. State courts ultimately ruled that prisoners were not covered by the Taylor Law, but such cases ought to be interest to historians interested in not only in prison labor and prisoners' rights movements but also in the historical evolution of the concepts of "employment," "employee," and "public employee."
  • In the mid-1970s, the New York City Department of Education attempted reduce the impact of the city's fiscal crisis on its operations by eliminating teachers' contractually mandated sabbaticals. The teachers' union appealed to PERB, and state courts ultimately determined that the department either had to honor the existing contract's sabbatical provisions or reach some sort of negotiated agreement with the union. Historians aren't used to thinking of sabbaticals as a condition of employment of importance to workers, but this case reveals that, at least in some instances, they were. 
Jodi Boyle of the University at Albany, SUNY discussed several significant collections that document both worker and retiree activism and the manner in which researchers seem content to overlook significant aspects of historical figures' lives and work and significant issues that affect workers as they grow older and leave the workforce:
  • Helen Quirini was a Schenectady, New York employee of General Electric who for over three decades held leadership positions in the unions that represented GE workers and for almost three decades agitated for improved benefits for GE retirees and for older people generally. Quirini's papers amply document both phases of her GE activism, but historians and graduate students gravitate toward the first half of her activist career. 
  • Eugene Link was a founding member of United University Professions, the union that represents State University of New York faculty and was active in its retirees organization, but scholars have devoted little attention to his retiree activism -- even though relations between the union and its retiree organization were at times extremely strained. 
  • The Civil Service Employees Association, New York's public employee union, has transferred many of its older records but few of its retiree records. It has transferred some of its retiree newsletters, but researchers don't seem interested in them.
Boyle then outlined how archivists might nudge scholars into taking an interest in retiree records, among them:
  • Being more persuasive with teaching faculty.
  • Actively collecting retirement records and making sure that prospective donors are aware of their value.
  • Resisting the temptation to glamorize strike activity and women's rights and stressing the importance of retirement issues in shaping workers' lives.
  • Making retirement records readily accessible. 
Barb Morley of Cornell University's Kheel Center detailed how digitization might affect use of Kheel's large collection of collective bargaining agreements, which consists of approximately 350 cubic feet of paper records and approximately 2,000 PDF files. Kheel receives most of these employer-union contracts from the United States Department of Labor's Office of Labor-Management Standards; it also receives contracts from PERB. Unfortunately, the Office of Labor-Management Standards organizes the contracts it collects in ways that makes them difficult to access; some are organized by company name, some by industry, and some by Department of Labor industry code number. As a result, the paper files have been consulted only 120 times during the past ten years. However, the 2,000 PDF files that Kheel has received from the Department of Labor are readily accessible via Kheel's website and have been downloaded 380,000 times over the past six years. Kheel got a grant to digitize an additional 1,600 agreements covering retail and education workers and create enhanced metadata, and these files are also accessible online.

Morley then outlined some potential new avenues of research afforded by these readily searchable, data-mineable digital surrogates:
  • Integration of minorities and immigrant groups into the workforce as revealed by protections relating to clothing preferences, prayer times, language use, work hours, and specific holidays.
  • The impact of natural disasters, social crises, or terrorism on conditions of employment in schools (e.g., classroom size, numbers of teaching aides, special safety plans and training, building spaces, and water and food safety).
  • Social integration of LGBTIQ employees as revealed by definitions of "family member" in contract provisions relating to family and bereavement leave, family insurance coverage, and bathroom and locker room specifications.
  • The impact of technology, trade agreements, and tariffs on conditions of employment and on labor unions as a whole.
During the discussion that followed and one-on-one conversations with the presenters, my fellow attendees and I identified a number of topics that historians in particular have yet to explore:

The history of older Americans' activism on their own behalf. Scholars have examined the old age pensions movement and the Social Security program that resulted from it, but they have traditionally viewed them in light of the Great Depression and the New Deal. One historian has examined the Gray Panthers movement, but scholarly histories of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and other advocacy organizations and of the pension activism of Quirini and others seems to have been given short shrift -- in part, perhaps, because we unconsciously see older Americans as being the pitiable objects, not the engaged agents, of social reform. As far as I can tell, AARP has yet to donate its organizational records to an archives, but a cursory Google search for "american association of retired persons" and "special collections" reveals that records of several chapters and papers of many activists have made their way into repositories.

Relationships between unions and their retiree organizations. Most unions have such organizations, and the nature of the relationship varies from union to union. Studying a given union's relationship with its retiree group will likely shed interesting light on its inner workings. Moreover, as Jodi Boyle noted, relations between unions and their retiree groups have at times been less than tranquil. Examining how active and retired members' views converged and diverged might help to illuminate how workers' perceptions and priorities shift as a result of broad political shifts and structural economic changes. 

Public employee unionism generally. Although some excellent local studies have been done, no one seems to be looking at the rise of public employee unionism as a whole. In my opinion, there are five reasons for this.
  • Public employee unionism is a relatively recent phenomenon. Unlike the craft unions of the old American Federation of Labor, many of which were established in the 19th century, and the industrial unions of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, which won stunning successes during the New Deal era, most unionized public employees won the right to bargain collectively during the last third of the 20th century. 
  • Those of us who study the history of labor tend to focus on dramatic conflict and working-class resistance, but demonstrations and strikes mounted by public employees have rarely engendered mass violence. In addition, public employee strike activity is relatively rare; New York  and many other states that recognize the right of public employees to unionize also bar them from striking. 
  • Public employees span just about every category imaginable -- race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, economic status, job responsibilities -- and the image that comes to mind the word "worker" is uttered is -- despite several decades of "the new labor history" -- all too often that of a white, male industrial worker.
  • Public employee union activity is heavily shaped by state law, and looking at public employee unionism as a broad movement means diving into a lot of legal minutiae.
  • The American labor movement has taken a beating in recent decades. Although public employee unions in a number of states have recently suffered serious setbacks, they are, as a whole, faring better than their private sector counterparts. Studying the emergence of public employee unionism forces one to come to terms with today's dismal state of affairs.
At any rate, it's high time for more in-depth studies of individual public employees unions and the employee associations out of which many of them grew, of broader analyses of the role public employees and their unions have played in the American labor movement as a whole, and of the working lives of public employees -- unionized or not. Many repositories hold records created by public employees and oral histories, personal papers, and other materials documenting the lives and work of public employees.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

New York State Archives seeks an Archives & Records Management Specialist 2

Are you an archivist or records manager who has solid practical and theoretical knowledge of website development, archival collections management systems, and standards such as Encoded Archival Description and Text Encoding Initiative? Do you want to work with dedicated, talented people? Does the thought of living in the beautiful and historic Hudson River Valley appeal to you? If you answered "yes" to all of these questions, my employer would very much like to hear from you.

As noted below, the application deadline is 22 April 2016. And here's the position announcement in its entirety:
The New York State Archives is seeking to fill an Archives & Records Management Specialist (ARMS) 2 position within the Information Technology Services Unit. The Information Technology Services Unit has responsibility for the development, integration, and support of all New York State Archives information systems. Under the direction of an Archives and Records Management Specialist 3, duties of this position include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Participate in the evaluation, implementation and integration of standards based public access tools for archival records, including an EAD based finding aid catalog, Digital Collections, and name index; 
  • Develop web content and features including tools for using historical records in the classroom; 
  • Support the development of the State Archives electronic records program; 
  • Support the integration of records management systems with archival management systems; 
  • Advise on the technical implementation of professional standards; and 
  • Work with State Archives staff and vendors to identify and implement web based solutions.
MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS: For permanent appointment candidates must have one year of permanent competitive or non-competitive 55b/c service as an Archives and Records Management Specialist 1 OR have one year of permanent competitive or 55b/c service in a title SG-16 or above in a title deemed eligible for transfer under Section 52.6 of the Civil Service Law. For provisional appointment, candidates must have a Master's degree in history, government, business or public administration, political science, American studies, library/information science, or archival administration and two years of professional experience in which the majority of duties involved one or more of the following:
  • Analyzing or appraising records and information systems to develop recordkeeping and/or records retention plans for an institution, governmental body, or corporation; 
  • Providing education, training, grant-in-aid, or direct technical assistance services in records management and/or archives administration for an institution, governmental body, or corporation; 
  • Developing or implementing guidelines, standards, policies and procedures concerning records management and/or archives administration for an institution, governmental body, or corporation; 
  • Evaluating available information technology to support recordkeeping needs and requirements of an institution, governmental body, or corporation; 
  • Acquiring, controlling, preserving, making available, or promoting use of archival records, whether in electronic, paper, or other form for an institution, governmental body, or corporation.
PERFERRED QUALIFICATIONS: Special consideration will be given to candidates who possess the following qualifications:
  • Participation in the implementation/maintenance of public access tools and/or records management systems. Familiarity with systems designed to support access to archival records, such as ARCHON, Archivist’s Toolkit, CollectiveAccess, XTF, etc. 
  • Participation in the implementation/maintenance of web content.  
  • Knowledge and understanding of the standards used to provide access to and manage archival records including EAD, EAC and TEI. Familiarity with XML, XSL and XLST. 
  • Demonstration of experience with core archival and records management practices including scheduling/appraisal; archival description and preservation; digital preservation and electronic records; references services to a wide range of users including state and local government agencies. Academics, educators, genealogists, local historians, and the general public.
CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT: This will be a permanent or provisional appointment. Promotions and transfers may change appointees’ negotiating unit. Applications should be aware that changes in negotiating units may affect their salary, insurance, and other benefits.
*[Starting salary: $52,293] Leads to a salary of $66,494 based on annual performance advances.
APPLICATION: Qualified candidates should send a resume and letter of interest by April 22, 2016 to ocejobs[at] (email submissions are preferred). You must include the Box number (OCE-960/26221) of the position in the subject line of your email and/or cover letter to ensure receipt of your application.
Please note:
  • The salary is established by a collective bargaining agreement and is non-negotiable.
  • The State of New York offers a comprehensive package of health insurance, retirement, and other benefits. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Kansas State Historical Society is looking for a Government Records Archivist

If you're a well-rounded records professional who enjoys working with all types of records, wants to work with some fantastic people, loves juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities, and lives or wants to live in the Sunflower State, the Kansas State Historical Society may have the job of your dreams. Here's what's involved, according to the detailed position description:
This is specialized, professional archival and records management work with statewide scope and application. The employee assists in developing the strategic direction for the State Archives Division’s public records program. The employee provides advice and assistance on records management and preservation practices; develops records retention and disposition schedules for state and county government agencies; provides technical assistance in planning, coordinating, and evaluating public records program activities; identifies, appraises, acquires, arranges, describes, and preserves Kansas government records (analog and digital) deemed to possess enduring value; assists with workshops and other training activities; utilizes a variety of computer databases; prepares statistics; assists in preparing grant applications; assists in evaluating received grant applications; and participates in strategic planning. The work is of a highly diverse and complex nature characterized by a broad range of activities and frequently changing conditions, situations, problem s, and standards/best practices. The employee must exhibit independent judgment and participate in major program changes or policy decisions. The employee must possess the ability to explain, clarify, and interpret the program’s policies, procedures, and practices to a diverse audience.

Records Management Consulting (Analog and Digital Records)
  • Promotes the adoption of records management methods and best practices for state and local government records in all formats in compliance with applicable records laws. 
  • Analyzes business processes and workflow s to determine state and local government agency functions and the resulting records series and information systems to develop records retention and disposition schedules. 
  • Prepares and revises state and local government retention and disposition schedules and drafts appraisal reports for presentation to the State Records Board. Appraisal assessments require the employee to apply analytical thought and sound judgment to: 
    • recommend appropriate retention periods and final dispositions for Kansas public records to meet the legal, fiscal, or administrative requirements of Kansas government agencies; 
    • identify public records that possess enduring legal, fiscal, or administrative value to the State of Kansas or its citizens; 
    • determine the potential historical value of public records by evaluating gaps in existing State Archives holdings, uniqueness of the information contained in the records, preservation issues and concerns , research trends, and anticipated future use. 
  • Assists state government agencies to develop Electronic Recordkeeping Plans detailing strategies for ensuring that long-term electronic records (10+ year retention) are managed and preserved for approved retention periods. 
  • Evaluates, monitors, and proposes new or revised state and local government agency recordkeeping practices. 
  • Provides assistance to state and local government agencies in interpreting and applying retention and disposition schedules. 
  • Coordinates with others to develop enterprise guidelines and best practices for the management of state and local government records in analog and digital form. 
  • Produces and presents written, oral, and multimedia training materials and workshops on records and information management policies, procedures, and legal mandates 
  • Develops and maintains positive working relationships with state and local government agency staff. 
Public Records Preservation (Analog and Digital Records)
  • Develops and implements plans to proactively identify and acquire state government records with enduring value.
  • Coordinates the legal and physical transfer of state government records with enduring value to the State Archives. 
  • Arranges State Archives holdings in accor dance with professional archival practices. 
  • Provides suitable housing and storage for State Ar chives holdings to ensure preservation. 
  • Reappraises records in the State Arch ives holdings for possible deaccessioning. 
  • Describes the content of State Archives holdings to aid researchers in identifying materials appropriate to their area of inquiry through narrative finding aids and cataloging records that are EAD- (Encoded Archival Description) , DACS- (Describing Archives: A Content Standard), MARC- (Machine Readable Cataloging), and Dublin Core-compliant. This is done through the use of the agency’s collections management software, digital archives system, and other tools. 
  • Processes content for the State Archives Kansas Enterprise Electronic Preservation (KEEP) trusted digital repository in accordance with established workflows and metadata standards including: 
    • Open Archival Information System (OAIS); 
    • Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories; 
    • Producer-Archive Interface - Methodology Abstract Standard (PAIMAS) 
  • Ensures that new finding aids and other access tools are added to the KSHS website and databases in a timely manner. 
  •  Miscellaneous Related Duties
  • Serves on intra- and inter-divisional committees, task forces, and teams. 
  • Provides staff support to various boards , including the State Records Board and the Electronic Records Committee. 
  • Trains, plans and oversees the work of volunteers and interns. 
  • Enhances professional knowledge and skills by: 
    • studying professional literature in the fields of records management, archives, government, history, information technology, and digital preservation;
    • participating in regional and national archives and records management professional organizations;
    • attending in in-person and remote professional development training opportunities; 
  • Develops and presents new or revised content for the State Archives Division web pages.
  • Performs other tasks assigned by the supervisor, the State Archives Division director, or by other Kansas Historical Society administrators in order to help carry out the general mission of the agency. 
  • Provides administrative and logistical support to the Kansas State Historical Records Advisory Board (KSHRAB) by: 
    • contributing to the preparation of National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) grant proposals requesting funding for KSHRAB activities; 
    • participating in KSHRAB meetings and strategic planning activities.
  • Provides reference and research assistance to staff and patrons who visit the Research Room or who send inquiries remotely using collections management system, narrative finding aids, other published and unpublished resources, and personal knowledge of the holdings of the agency according to established guidelines. This may include working the occasional Saturday. 
  • Performs specialized reference work involving the locations of specific materials in large collections of government records, personal papers, business records, etc. that does not have detailed descriptions. This involves applying knowledge of similar collections to determine where relevant materials mi ght be in these large collections. 
  • Provides specialized reference and research assistance to staff from other government agencies requiring access to agency records that have been transferred to the State Archives. Occasionally serves as liaison between agency staff and reference staff at the Kansas Historical Society. 
 And here's what you need to bring to the table:
Education or Training
Master's degree in history or library/information science with an archival administration concentration, or a related field is preferred.

Licenses, Certificates, and Registrations
Valid Kansas driver's license
Certified Archivist credential preferred but not required.
Digital Archives Specialist certificate preferred but not required.

Special Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Knowledge of:
  • archival theories, methods, and best practices; 
  • electronic information systems including document and/or content management systems, imaging systems, and database management systems; 
  • digital preservation methods and best practices; 
  • metadata standards for archives, records management, and digital preservation including, but not limited to, the following: 
    • Metadata Encoding Transmission Standard (METS) 
    • Dublin Core 
    • PREMIS (preservation metadata)
    • Encoded Archival Description (EAD)
    • Machine-Readable Cataloging Record (MARC) 
  • American history with special emphasis on western and Kansas history; 
  • records and information management methods and best practices; 
  • international standards and best practices related to trusted digital repositories including, but not limited to, the following: o 
  • Open Archival Information System (OAIS): ISO 14721:2012 
  • Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories: ISO 16363: 2012 
  • Producer-Archive Interface - Methodology Abstract Standard (PAIMAS): ISO 20652:2006
  • archives and special collections reference techniques and best practices;
  • historical research methods; 
  • Special Library and archives reference techniques and best practices. 
Ability to:
  • work with a variety of people and in a team environment; 
  • balance multiple projects; 
  • meet deadlines; 
  • express ideas clearly, orally, and in writing to groups with varying expertise in the relevant subject matter.
Six months of experience in planning, implementing and monitoring activities relevant to the agency's programs.  Education may be substituted for experience as determined relevant by the agency.

Special Qualifications
Physical requirements of the position include climbing tall ladders to examine or move records stored on high shelves; lifting or carrying boxes or volumes weighing as much as 60 pounds which often must be placed on high shelves and/or loading docks; and loading, and driving a large van.
The starting salary for this position is $36,171, and State of Kansas employees receive health insurance, retirement, and other benefits.

The application deadline for this position is 11 March 2016. For more information and detailed application instructions, consult the job posting.