Thursday, October 25, 2007

White Lab Coats

While working at the small educational archive today, I felt rather uncomfortably cool due to the large AC unit. As a result, the powers that be mentioned that I might like to wear a white lab coat. It gave the whole enterprise a rather more scientific bent than it normally has.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Creativity gap plagues... archivists?

In today's Globe and Mail (a newspaper based in Toronto, Canada), there was an article titled, "Creativity gap plagues workers." In part, the article reads, "A good number of workers say they're creative types, but fewer say their jobs allow them to express that creativity, according to a recent survery. It's a conundrum that some say is leaving to a 'creativity gap' in the work force., leaving workers feeling unfilled and sometimes willing to job hop, occasionally for less pay." The survey sample is so small (+500) that is effectively meaningless, but I think the concern articulated here is an interesting one.

I have two kinds of reaction to this sort of claim. The first, cynical reaction is to metaphorically shrug my shoulders and think something like, "How sad for you - you can't be creative at work. There's a reason that it is called work. If you want creative, go write a damn novel or act in a play or something in your spare time." My other reaction concerns archival work. I have worked, in a rather junior capacity, in two archives now and the work is quite the opposite of creative. Some of my archives readings have argued that archivists play a creative role in creating records, through selection, appraisal and so forth but I wonder if archivists really have that much influence in what happens. In institutional archives (i.e. most archives), what is archived is often defined by somebody else in the organization (e.g. accountants, lawyers etc).

The question of the day: Are archivists creative workers? Is much creativity involved? Or to put my spin on this: Is it intellectually satisfying work for somebody with three university degrees or is it, as I sometimes fear, little more than glorified file clerks who have tried to inflate their status?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

No CBC tour for me, but conference hopes...

It turns out that I will be receiving my MA degree in history the same day my program is going to the CBC Archives / Museum. Argh. This is quite depressing, as you might imagine. In contrast to this disappointment, I submitted a conference proposal to the Association of Canadian Archivists recently. If accepted, I will get to go to Fredericton, New Brunswick next summer. I hope that comes together, but it is now in the hands of the archival powers that be.