Blog

A Not-So-Fun Surprise

Anjelica N. Ruiz, MLS
Director of Libraries and Archives
Temple Emanu-El
aruiz@tedallas.org

What do you do when the unexpected happens?

I had just returned from my first SAA conference and it was my first day back in the office. I had walked past the exhibit windows multiple times and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Later that day, I was giving a tour and, as usual, ended it in the archives public room. It was only then I noticed that one of my windows had water dripping down the sides. I cursed and then noticed that some of the objects had also gotten wet. What is a newbie archivist to do?

Thinking quickly on my feet, I removed the objects, which were a mix of clothing and jewelry. I also ordered a freezer, which helped prevent mold from forming on the items. I cleaned the items as best as I could, given the circumstances and my nearly nonexistent budget. Thankfully, the items were saved!

 

The Sky is Falling – Hurricane Michael Is Knocking

Ruth L. Slagle, M.L.I.S.
Instruction and Outreach Librarian
Ida J. McMillan Library
The Baptist College of Florida
rlslagle@baptistcollege.edu

Hurricane Michael was an unexpected and catastrophic event.  While I grew up in South Florida, where hurricanes frequently hit coming out of the Caribbean, never have I had to deal with the long-term clean up or the resulting emotions relating to such an event.  I just so happened to be out of town the week it came.  Once I knew from the news that it was going to be at least a Cat. 3, I was in shock that the campus was not better prepared.  I am a Hurricane Andrew survivor, along with countless others, yet I know it caught the Panhandle unprepared.  However, you prepare for the worst, but how can you when you do not know what nature will do?  I called my co-worker the day before it was scheduled to hit, and the library had the crazy foresight to leave the plastic tarps on top of the bookshelves from the previous year’s preparations for Hurricane Irma.  It was one less thing to ask maintenance to do.  So, the Administrative Assistant to the Library Director, four months pregnant, and two student workers stood on chairs, pulling the tarps down to cover the books.  Looking back now, there really was not much more we could do in the library to prepare.  So often times natural disasters are ‘wait and see’.  When Wednesday, October 10, 2018, rolled around the storm made landfall as a Cat. 5 in Mexico Beach, FL, Michael decimated the coast.  It moved into Georgia, sustaining winds at 161 MPH and moving at 13 MPH.  It broke all the records as the strongest storm to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle.  So, how do you prepare for such a monstrosity?  Hurricane Michael tore through Jackson County’s seat, Marianna, on US 90 as a Cat. 3 with sustained winds at 115 MPH; Marianna is located 24 miles southeast of Graceville.  The county shares the state lines of Alabama and Georgia.  So, was the campus really not prepared?  Or did they do the best they could?  The entire Panhandle, from Leon to Okaloosa County also were not prepared.  First Responders came from all over the state and the US to help our area recover.  Linemen and tree cutters worked 14-hour days to restore power.  I know the area will be eternally grateful for the compassion they showed.

 

I drove back on Sunday of the following week.  It was what, I imagine, driving through a warzone would be like.  All the beautiful trees were snapped in half.  Fields of cotton and peanuts were stripped bare.  It is estimated that over $90 million dollars was lost in crops and $1.3 billion in timber.  The consequences of such a storm are unfathomable for it will economically and socially affect the area for many years to come.  Thank God, my apartment was miraculously not damaged.  I just lost power for 6 days, and had mystery water puddles in my apartment from my fridge leaking.  Thus, I lost a few items.  They say, if you are a strong person you can make it through tough times.  It is true, only through leaning on God did I actually make it.  I had to go inside myself to pull out the strength I knew He had given me, only then have I been able to make it to the other side.  Hurricane Michael went through in a day and a half, but the aftermath has lasted well over a year.  Everyday waking up and not knowing what was going to happen, frayed my nerves completely.

On Tuesday, after the storm, we went back to work.  My boss said to carry on as normal.  He had not been in the building and had not seen the severity of the two holes.  He had, of course, seen the two oak trees leaning against the building.  My dad and I went in the Sunday before and tried to take in the shock of the damage.  There was water everywhere!  The largest hole, which I named Big Bertha, allowed you to see the leaves and the sky through the tree.  Outside you could see where the wind had moved and shifted the earth, pushing the trees into the building, at least 20 feet.  The smell was rank, as the mold was setting in.  Humidity in Florida is insane!  All of our AC units were completely out.  Fans were set up, the temperatures still reached over 90 most of the days after the storm.  To say the conditions were against us, would be putting it mildly.  Lack of manpower everywhere made progress slow.  What truly is the best strategy for rehousing 60,000 volumes?

 

Feeling overwhelmed after entering the library, my coworker and I went immediately to my boss’s office after entering the library.  We practically dragged him to the library.  He was in shock when he saw the severity of the damage.  We took notes of everything that needed to be done.  As we walked out, I emphasized to him that we had to set up a temporary space as the students were coming into midterms.  Thankfully he worked to find us a room.  I cannot tell you how difficult and challenging it has been to reduce an entire library, department and building into a very small classroom.  We are right on top of each other. I thought I was going to go insane without an office.  I had never realized how important it is to just have your own space!  A student and I created an office space with bookshelves for me in December 2018.

While such a catastrophic event would be challenging to face in the best of times, I have not had the pleasure of such a precursor.  Unfortunately, the library director, left in July 2018, and I am doing his job in addition to mine as he has not been replaced.  This past year and a half, has taught me so much about myself and who I am as a manager.  Most of what I have learned has been by muddling through and trying to figure it all out without much guidance, except what I have sought out from other professional librarians and my dad who was a manager for 40 years.  When I got out of my graduate program, and started this position, I joined the state and national organizations.  I began networking through attending meetings and conferences.  Thankfully I did so, never knowing that in just a few short months I would be reaching out to these connections because I needed help desperately.  One thing I love about our profession is that we genuinely want to help each other, which makes librarianship and archives so much richer for me.  For many contacted me to help!

 

My eight student employees saw the library’s damage and panicked.  Were they going to be out of a job?  Very shortly after the storm, I calmed their fears and we met in a conference room to plan our transition into the temporary library.  What books would we bring?  How would we use our space?  What equipment would we need?  What HAD to go?  These and many more were the questions we asked.  I learned that you use the assets you have!  I could not single handedly go through and figuring out what books we were to bring, as I had a million other things on my plate.  This is where I reached out to my professional connections. I desperately posted on all the list serves begging for advice on what to do.  I got a phone call from Randy Silverman, who saved my life, as he knew exactly what it was like to deal with Florida’s humidity.  I honestly have no idea how he saw my email, but he called as a volunteer with National Heritage Responders.  If anything, it was amazing to talk to someone outside the world crumbling around me.  I very soon learned that no one was going to help us, at least not out right.  We had to be creative on how we asked and as to what equipment we used.  We planned to start moving shelves over from the other library into the temporary space that Friday, nine days after the storm.  A call was made for flatbed trucks, two students were lifesavers; they moved most of the shelves on one of their trucks.  What I soon learned was even if the administration was not always on board, the students were.  They wanted/needed a space.  That week was INSANE, and I was exhausted!  Looking back, I am so thankful for those helpers, because I honestly felt like I was drowning.  That following Saturday we ripped out the carpet.  The next week, ServPro came, gave an estimate, and told us a plan, which of course I passed along.  I am glad for the books we did bring and am still hoping that God in his mercy will not allow too many of the other books to be overly damaged.  Yes, there are still books in the other building.  A lot of decisions lay in my lap by default.  For months after the storm, I kept track of how many weeks and days had passed.

 

Looking back, I think I handled the situation to the best of my abilities.  Do I wish that bureaucracy would move faster, yes?  There was only so much I could do without the powers that be deciding how to proceed.  Ultimately, I concluded it was up to me to make sure my students were protected by limiting their exposure to our damaged building.  Even if only one person you know truly has your back, it makes it possible to accept the responsibility to take ownership of the collection and employees.  For the powers that be have not wanted to take the level of mold seriously. I just hope that in the long run they clean the building thoroughly, before moving anyone back in.  From this experience, I truly learned the importance of choosing your battles.  A lot of my anxiety come largely from lack of direction for me as there is no director and will not be for a good amount of time.  While today I am in a place to look back at Hurricane Michael and evaluate the catastrophe it created, the journey to recovery is still in progress.

A Picture Is Worth A 1000 Documents

Sister Eleanor Craig
The Loretto Heritage Center
ecraig@lorettocommunity.org

Late in June, 2018 the Archivists at the Loretto Heritage Center noticed buckling in the hardwood floor beneath the racks of documents.  

At least one sensitive nose also smelled musty moldy smells.  By August, the floorboards had begun to push up, forming peaks two, three, four inches high. 

Finally, a mold inspector was called in.  Samples from the crawl space revealed the entire underside of the Heritage Center — all 1500 square feet–was covered with yellow-white penicillin interspersed with mushrooms!

REMEDIATION BEGAN IMMEDIATELY!

That was November 2018. By February 2019 the remediation was complete, new hardwood flooring had been laid, a rich red
oak that blends with the flooring in the museum.

The rails for the movable shelving were relocated to a more convenient corner and built into the flooring for greater safety. Fresh
paint on the walls made the room ready for its shelves and documents.

Finally, in late February, the document boxes could be retrieved from nearby St. Catharine’s Motherhouse and placed on their shelves by the archival staff, who admitted to being tired, but GREATLY RELIEVED!

“Until Further Notice”

Justin A. Gardner
Special Collections Librarian, Resource Services and Migel Collection
American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
jgardner@aph.org

It was no natural disaster or facilities emergency.  But late one Friday afternoon, I was told that I would be barred from entering the M.C. Migel Memorial Collection starting the following Monday “until further notice.”  The storage area outside of the Collection was going to be turned into the new Customer Service Department.  Renovations would also be to be done on the collection storage area.  Since that whole floor would be a construction zone, I would not be permitted in that part of the building at all for what became a three-month project.

Working in a facility that is essentially a factory, knew I would have little sway over rules passed down by the Facilities manager.  But I attempted to negotiate up the ladder.  My supervisor and director did not want to “escalate any tensions” that must have existed between the departments before my time here.  So, left on my own, I requested that I get one 30-minute shift per day to inspect the collection.  I was immediately denied.  I then asked if I could cover the collection and our $11,000 Internet Archive Table Top Scribe (TTS) with tarps.  While Facilities offered to cover the collection themselves, I was again denied entrance since construction had already begun.

I consulted a friend and mentor about what I should do.  He agreed that, as the sole guardian of the collection, my plan to stay after work and monitor the collection after the construction crews left was more than acceptable.  In fact, he believed that while they could tell me not work in the area, I had every right to be there to inspect it.

My first concern was making sure that the collection and equipment were protected.  I went into the area during lunch time, and was relieved to see that the collection had been covered with tarps.  I had to requisition a table cloth from a nearby breakroom to cover the TTS.  That I was there ended up being an excellent coincidence, because a plumber came in and let me know he was going to remove the old ceiling radiator the next day.  He agreed that I should remove all of the materials on the shelf directly below the work.  I got the materials on to some carts, covered them with a second table cloth, and snuck back out.  It was good that he was such a conscientious plumber, because on later after-hours visits, I could see stains on the shelves, tarp, and floor where filthy water had leaked out during removal.

As I continued my covert inspections, I discovered that a roof leak had soaked a ceiling panel and caused it to fall out, splattering a shelf of materials as it hit the floor.  Since this was a major facilities issue, I had to blow my cover and let them know that I had been in the collection and seen the leak.  They again told me to stay out of the area, and assured me that they’d clean up the mess and monitor the room.  I decided to let a few days pass so as not to ruffle any feathers, and I went in on a Saturday to see what progress had been made.  The tile was still sitting on the floor, soggy and covered in black mold.  A trashcan next to it was filling up with water from the ceiling leak.  So I cleaned it up, put the mess in a dumpster that was being stored in the collection, and rolled the dumpster out of the room.  I couldn’t empty the trash can on my own, but I at least got the dehumidifiers running again – they had been unplugged by the construction crews. The experience strengthened my resolve to check on the collection at least once a day.

The time that followed was much less eventful.  I made an effort to thank Facilities for the improvements being made, like installing a door code, LED lighting, and a new HVAC.  After I built up some trust with their department, I was allowed to schedule occasional times to come in and pull materials to work on.  I was happy to assume clean-up duties myself after the project.  The collection had been a nice place for the crew to hide during breaks, so I found several cans that had been used as spittoons, and an empty beer can.  The tarps were covered in debris from electrical work and carpentry.    But the real work came with the drywall dust that coated everything after the construction work.  I used an archival vacuum cleaner on each shelf and item.  And I must have gone through at least 50 disposable duster refills getting the room and equipment clean.

As with many things in life, communication would have been key to this situation, as it really should have not been an “unexpected event” to begin with.  Our facilities department understandably prioritizes efficiency, and has innumerable emergencies to work on every day.  Any opportunity for consultation or warning before the project would have been helpful.  I could have removed the collection and equipment completely, chosen different HVAC units, or advised against installing condensate pumps and drainage from the air conditioning units next door in the collection space.  But now that I have developed communication and trust, our next major move will likely go much more smoothly.  New archival and collection space is being created as we grow, so like to look back on this as practice for the better things to come.

Unpaid Internships: A Message from the Editor

Ashley Levine
Archivist/Digital Resource Manager
Artifex Press
Editor, SOLO
alevine@artifexpress.com

There is a looming paradigm shift in archival education and practice–the end of the  unpaid internship. Professionals in various archival settings are increasingly pushing back against this commonplace practice, which overwhelmingly devalues archives work. Archives, libraries, and cultural heritage institutions, however, often operate with limited resources, and cannot afford to pay interns. This issue of SOLO attempts to address the nuances of unpaid labor in archives, highlighting both positives and negatives. These posts should be viewed as an ongoing discussion needing more input from the Lone Arranger community. We welcome more feedback on the issue of unpaid internships,  whether it comes in the form of comments on these individual posts, or entirely new pieces submitted to me (alevine@artifexpress.com).

 

Thanks for reading this issue of SOLO!

 

 

 

Unpaid Internships: A Multifaceted Problem

Michelle Ganz, MILS CA
Archives Director
McDONOUGH INNOVATION
700 East Jefferson Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
434.979.1111 office
434.284.0616 mobile
http://www.mcdonough.com

Internships are an important part of archival education, and often the only way students get real-world experience. My graduate school program only offered 2 elective courses on archives that were offered in alternating years (making it very difficult to take both depending on when you started the program). Obviously two courses cannot cover the breadth of archival education so at that time internships/practicums were the only way to get into an archives as a student. These were courses we signed up for, received credit for, and were graded on (usually on a pass/fail scale). The work done in these internships was appropriate for resumes and counted towards the experience requirement to sit for the ACA certification exam.

Once I moved from student to Lone Arranger I wanted to make sure that interns walked away with practical knowledge and theoretical foundations of archival practice. My internships were structured to maximize what the students got out of the experience. But packing more instruction into an internship still isn’t a replacement for financial compensation. The best I could do for my interns was offer letters of reference, job search help, a couple of lunches throughout the semester, and baked goods. These are poor substitutes for actual money, but the alternative was to offer no internship opportunities for students; this is hardly an appropriate alternative. I never really thought much about their compensation. In hindsight I should have been more aware of how taking an internship could have impacted my interns; I always took interest in how their lives were doing outside of school. It never occured to me to ask if the internship was negatively impacting them. It was my responsibility to ask, and in that sense I failed my interns.

As the landscape of archival education evolves to archives-track MLIS programs the idea of internships has also changed. Internships are no longer a basic part of the educational process. Employers have turned to unpaid internships in lieu of hiring professional archivists or archival assistants; skirting the ethical line of using volunteers or unpaid labor instead of properly compensated professionals. Internships seem to have moved out of the educational sphere and into the working world where entry level jobs have been reclassified as unpaid internships. In addition to being grossly unethical this blurred line has catastrophic and long-reaching implications. Internships, by definition, work on the trade-school model of giving students a chance to apply the theory learned in the classrooms and see if archives is the track for them. Asking MLIS/MIS/MLS holding professionals to accept a job without pay is insulting and cheapens the profession as a whole. To be perfectly honest, it never occured to me that interns should be paid until I started paying attention to what new professionals were saying. As the people administering internships it is our obligation to push for change.

Interns deserve to be paid for the work that they do, and the government is starting to agree. For-profit institutions have moved to a pay model to keep ahead of changing regulations.  Academic institutions need to follow suit. Course credit isn’t acceptable when people are having to choose between taking the unpaid internship or going to a job unrelated to archives, but pays the bills. Many academic institutions provide students with a variety of scholarships and alternative funding options to cover costs while completing an internship. But this places the onus of responsibility on the students, not the archives, where the responsibility actually lies. Supporting and advocating for new professionals is a fundamental part of sustaining our profession. And funding needs to be part of your advocacy agenda and part of your strategic goals.

And in a perfect world this would not be an issue. But the reality of archival budgets is that there is no extra money, or time to apply for money, leaving archivists trying to provide internships without paying for the interns. Cutting funds from other areas like supplies to free up funds for internships is often not possible; either because there isn’t enough money for the things we have to buy or because it’s not possible to move funds from one budget line to another. The SAA has taken the correct position that all interns need to get paid. Use the SAA’s Best Practices for Internships and the current literature as a way to support your proposal to pay interns. It is clear that we are moving to a paid internships standard and we need to start budgeting for interns like any other archival budgetary line item. We need to seek out grant funding, endowments, and alumni-supported funds. We need to include intern funding as part of our advocacy plans.

Clearly there is no simple answer and we certainly can’t find a solution in a blog. Like all of the archival problems we grapple with the real answer is a multifaceted approach. I have spent years mulling this issue and have yet to come up with a blanket solution. Every institution and repository needs to approach this issue with real forethought and a willingness to address this on an institutional and budgetary level. The important thing is to keep the conversation moving forward and continuing to push for funding for interns and internships.

An Unpaid Archives Internship in Late Career

Phyllis Ann K. Bratton
Director, Raugust Library
University of Jamestown
6070 College Lane
Jamestown, ND 58405
(701)252-3467, ext. 5433

I received my library degree in 1978. In 2010, I decided to return to work towards a degree in archives and records management, as my last great project before retirement is to organize our university archives from the ground up and I want to do it properly. My problems and experiences will be different from younger archivists, but reading others’ accounts, it becomes clear that most of the difficulties in each case revolve around trying to keep one’s life in balance.

In the summer of 2013, I proposed completing an unpaid internship at a university archives that is 100 miles from where I live and work. The archivists there graciously accepted me into their space, gave me my own project to work on, were extremely helpful with direction and advice, and accommodated my schedule.

Additional positives included that I lived with one of my daughters, who was a student at the university; since I was paying for her apartment anyhow, I felt no qualms about this! Also, as an assistant professor at my own institution, I was able to apply for and receive a summer sabbatical, so I continued to be paid while absent.

On the negative side were family concerns. Chief among these was trying to monitor and care for my chronically ill husband from a distance. Another was trying to organize my other daughter’s wedding, at an even greater distance and with an otherwise-occupied brain.

The biggest problem, however, is that I did not receive a full sabbatical. As the library director and only degreed librarian at our institution (yes, we are VERY SMALL), I was required to return to the library every Friday to do administrative work, as no one else could do it. This disrupted my project, but as noted above, the archivists were very kind about working with my schedule.

I finished my project, taking 19 huge and disorganized banana boxes full of records and reducing them to 21 organized boxes and a 26 page finding aid. I do not regret the time (which ran past the requirements of the class) or the work; it was well worth the effort. The archivists continue to answer my questions as I work through our collections here, and I feel that meeting them was one of the great benefits of the internship.

Jeanne Lowrey on Unpaid Internships

Jeanne Lowrey
Archivist
Office of the President
Yale University
203-432-2553

I am a bit unusual because the bulk of my pre-professional experience was paid. The few unpaid internships I held were part of school programs and class credit was offered. As a result, the financial burden was essentially equal to that of talking classes without internships.

I was fortunate to have attended an undergraduate institution with a thriving archives and strong program designed to help undergraduates gain practical work experience. I worked full time for two summers (as well as part time during the academic year), learning the foundations of archival practice before I had even decided that this was my career path or learned about abstract theory. Had this not been a paying job, this life-changing opportunity would have been inaccessible to me, and I’d likely have had to settle for a much less in-depth experience.

Additionally, my college job set me up with the skills I needed to find a rare, paid internship after I graduated. True, it was one day a week, and I juggled one to two other jobs simultaneously during that time. But that internship eventually became my first professional job, giving me a solid two years of professional experience prior to my post-grad school job search. These paid experiences enabled me to leave grad school with over five years of invaluable hands-on skills obtained in a variety of organizations.

As someone who has been a Lone Arranger for all of my professional career, I know how essential volunteer support is to accomplish institutional objectives. There are only so many hours in a week (especially if you are part time) and having extra hands can be so helpful. But to me, there is a big difference between a volunteer who is just looking to give back or help out, and someone who is serious about developing a professional portfolio. With volunteers, you try to teach them the basics, give them specific parameters so hopefully they will produce an end-product that is useful for your organization. They give what they can give, and you take what you can take. But someone interested in interning wants to go beyond the surface level, to broaden their knowledge of the field and archival work. A good intern will run with what they have learned and be able to do tasks that are essential but usually beyond the capability of a regular volunteer. With any luck, these skills the intern learns will serve them well as they advance in their career. If we do not fairly compensate interns for their work, we are signaling that their work does not have worth. It also is a sign that only people who can afford to work without pay are welcome in our profession.

Sometimes there is a bit of a grey area. Maybe someone interested in the field wants to volunteer just to get a sense of what archives are all about. Perhaps a professional or pre-professional volunteers for an archival organization because they are passionate about it and are willing to donate their time because they care about the cause and can bring a special skill set to the project. But these are either very short term or entirely self-selected projects. In these cases, the worker controls their interactions with archival institutions. If we accept that initiation into the archival profession requires unpaid labor that many people cannot afford, potential archivists no longer have that luxury. When it’s a decision between unpaid field experience and a paying job doing unrelated work to survive, there is really no choice.

Without paying archival work experience, I would not be where I am today. I would have had to postpone grad school for many years due to cost, delaying my ability to earn the degree I’d need to get a better paying job. I would not have been able to pay down my student loans. I would not have had the practical experience that made me stand out to my current employer. Being paid for my work from the start facilitated my entry into the archival world. It also assured me that yes, this is something I could make into a career, something worth investing in. I am beyond grateful that I was able to find employment in places that valued my work and compensated me for it to the best of their ability. But I strongly feel that my experience should not be the exception to the rule.

Unpaid Internships: A Message From The Chair

Deb Schiff
Archivist
Chair, SAA Lone Arrangers
debra.schiff@gmail.com

When SOLO editor Ashley Levine asked me to write about my experience with unpaid internships, I thought about a number of things, including the privilege associated with programs requiring students to have unpaid internships. I also recognize my own great privilege in being someone who, thanks to a variety of circumstances, could afford to take unpaid internships during my MLIS. But first, let’s go back to a time when I was paid for an internship.

In 1989-1990, I was a Communications major at William Paterson University (College, then), studying radio, TV, and film. My internship at the brand new CNBC studios in Fort Lee, NJ paid $75 per day. Interesting historical fact: To equip CNBC, NBC reused the audio and video equipment employed to broadcast the previous Olympics. I could still see some of the mic labels on the audio engineering boards.

I operated a camera during the early morning show (Neil Cavuto was a young unknown and Kathleen Campion was the star) and supported the audio department (think mic-ing folks like Morton Downey and Dick Cavett, and their guests). It was as hands-on an experience as one could have as an intern, and after the internship ended, I was hired part-time until I completed my degree. I was very fortunate to have gotten the internship, importantly to see another woman working as a professional audio engineer. In the NYC area at that time, we were rare.

Fast-forward to 2009-2010, after careers in technical publishing and corporate communications, I sought an MLIS at nearby Rutgers University. I took internships and independent studies primarily because I couldn’t get as much hands-on experience as I wanted in the program. My first unpaid internship was at the Zimmerli Museum, on campus. It’s a great museum with the world’s largest collection of Soviet Nonconformist Art.

Working in the Registrar’s office, I chased down “missing” artworks in administrative offices and learned how to deaccession a collection of works on paper. The collection contained original artworks designed to accompany Bell Telephone bills. They were paired with short blurbs, often about historical information. These works no longer fit the collecting policy of the museum (my first experience with a collecting policy, too!), and were destined for the NJ Historical Society. However, the Society was closed due to budgetary concerns. The materials would stay with the Zimmerli until the Society reopened. In that experience, I also learned a great deal about art handling and preservation techniques, and condition reporting that I still use today.

I also took an unpaid internship at the Plainfield Public Library (NJ) in the Local History Department. My boss, Sarah Hull, head of Local History, gave me a host of great opportunities to practice everything I had learned, and to learn many new skills as an archivist. I worked with collections that had everything from architectural drawings to wedding gowns. The mentorship I received provided an important foundation for how I approach newer archivists and volunteers today. After I completed that internship, I volunteered at the library for a time. Later, I was written into grants for several years (part-time).

I’m not in favor of unpaid internships. Just because that’s what I experienced, it’s not what I expect others to do. Frankly, if my circumstances were different, I likely would not have been able to afford to stay in this field. At the end of the day, I gained a great deal of experience that I use and teach to others. I can only hope that more funding becomes available for the current generation of student archivists, librarians, and museum professionals to take the internships that will prepare them for their future careers.

 

Call for Submissions: Unpaid Internship (March 2019) Edition: Deadline 3/15

Unpaid internships typify the archives profession, and are often required for the completion of graduate level degrees. Archivists, librarians, and museum professionals are increasingly challenging this paradigm, while highlighting the barriers to entering these professions (e.g. high costs of tuition paired with the necessity of taking on multiple jobs during grad school, etc.).

In our upcoming (March) edition, we are accepting submissions (1000 word max) on impressions of unpaid internships (both positive and negative), based on your professional and educational experiences. Did you find your unpaid internships particularly valuable for your professional goals? Or more of a burden? As a Lone Arranger, how do you view unpaid internships in the context of working with limited staff/resources?

We will be accepting submissions at alevine@artifexpress.com until 3/15.

I’m grateful for the kind consideration.

Best wishes,

Ashley Levine
Editor, SOLO