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Archivists

Archivists appraise, edit, and maintain permanent records and historically valuable documents. Many perform research on archival material. Show Details

Duties

Archivists typically do the following:

  • Create and maintain accessible computer archives and databases
  • Organize and classify archival records to make it easy to find materials
  • Authenticate and appraise historical documents and archival materials
  • Provide reference services and help for users
  • Direct workers who help arrange, exhibit, and maintain collections
  • Safeguard records by copying to film, videotape, disk, or computer formats
  • Preserve and maintain documents and objects
  • Set and administer policy guidelines concerning public access to materials
  • Locate new materials and direct their acquisition and display

Archivists preserve many documents and records for their importance, potential value, or historical significance. Most archivists coordinate educational and public outreach programs, such as tours, workshops, lectures, and classes. Some work with the boards of institutions to administer plans and policies. In addition, archivists may research topics or items relevant to their collections.

Some archivists specialize in an area of history, such as colonial history, so they can more accurately determine which records in that area should be kept and should become part of the archives. Archivists also may work with specialized forms of records, such as manuscripts, electronic records, websites, photographs, maps, motion pictures, or sound recordings.

Archivists usually use computers to generate and maintain archival records. Professional standards for handling electronic archival records are still evolving. However, computer capabilities will continue to expand and more records will be stored and exhibited electronically, providing both increased access and better protection for archived documents.

Archives technicians help archivists organize, maintain, and provide access to historical documentary materials.

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