nefariousni (nefariousni) wrote in archivists,
nefariousni
nefariousni
archivists

Archives, Records Management Connection

Hi all,

I am currently getting my MLIS, and I have been working a paid records management internship for a while. By the time it is over, I will have one year's experience. I wasn't expecting to fall into RM, but I feel that the experience has been mostly positive. However, I would much rather work at an archives or museum eventually.

As a records management intern, I work more with current records and typically focus more on the importance of disposal and legality than long-term care and historical context.

I'm wondering, though, if people think of RM as being similar to archives.  My boss actually used to work as an archivist, but I don't know if the transition from RM to archives is as easy. Any ideas?

Thank you!
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In the UK, the masters courses for archives all emphasise the strong connection between archives and RM and they're considered very closely linked. You have to prove a bit of knowledge about RM to get onto one of the courses but they usually only have one module on RM. (Although, at my uni, the students taking a solely RM course don't have to do a module on archives. Which seems weird to me.)

I'm not too sure about the US though, you guys do things differently! My advice is that if you wanted to get into archives, try and get some experience in archives, but your records management experience should be helpful.
Where I work, the records managers are separate from the archivists, and although we do related work and cross paths *very* often, we have different core responsibilities. An understanding of records management is essential to being an archivist, but it won't necessarily be a huge part of your job, especially if you end up working in a historical society or another manuscripts-based environment. On the other hand, there are many positions where the archivist is the de facto records manager, so who knows?

I would suggest seeing if you can find even a short-term internship concentrating more on the archives end of things (description, preservation, etc.). It will be good experience, and allow you to look more well-rounded on your resume. (The long-term paid internship is a very good thing, and if you can find a way to do both, that would be your best bet.)

I might also suggest posing the question to SAA's Archives and Archivists listserv if you want more perspectives.
I wouldn't post to the A & A listserv, as this would probably end up being an exercise in futility for you. I'm currently getting my Masters degree in Public History with a focus in archival management, so I'm approaching archives from the opposite end of the spectrum.

That being said, the relation of records management and archival management is emphasized heavily in archival classes in the US, similar to what punkfunkdisco says about the UK. I would say that if you understand the principles of records management, you've got a great foothold in archival theory as well.
Thanks for the advice! So it looks like my experience :will: be helpful, and now I need to top it off with an actual archives experience. This is actually what I wanted to hear yay
I concentrated in archives & RM when I was in library school (2008). Caveat: I am not currently a practicing archivist, but I do work with a lot of archivists and am heavily involved in SAA & MAC.

Most archivists do not receive enough education about records management in graduate school, and they will need to pick up at least some of that knowledge during their careers. This is especially true in small institutions where the archivist may be asked to pick up RM duties. You are at an advantage because you're getting that practical experience right now. There are definitely skills that translate from the RIM branch to archives (and vice versa). If you concentrate on archives in grad school, you will be able to focus on the appraisal and long-term value/preservation issues you may not be focusing on right now, which on top of your current experience will give you a very well-rounded area of expertise and make you more competitive on the job market.