Archival Anxiety and the Vocational Calling
Author: Richard J. Cox
Publisher: Litwin Books
Physical Description: 6X9; 372p.
This book is number 4 in the Series on Archives, Archivists, and Society, Richard J. Cox, editor.
Many worry about the health of the archival profession and its mission, a topic explored in this book by one of the profession’s respected leaders. The initial part of the book consists of three essays exploring the notion of archival calling, including a lesson about a lost opportunity for advocating the critical importance of the archival mission and a very personal reflection on the author’s own calling into the archival field. The second part of the book concerns one of the pre-eminent challenges of our time, government secrecy, and how, if left unchallenged, it can undermine the societal role of the archival profession. The third part of the book considers one of the most important issues facing archivists, indeed, all information professionals, the possession of a practical ethical perspective. The fourth and final part of the book concerns the matter of teaching the next generation of archivists in the midst of all the change, debates, and controversies about archives and archivists. In a brief concluding reflection, the author offers some final advice to the archival community in charting its future.
A substantial portion of the archival profession is anxious about a variety of issues. The challenges archivists face are the result of a growing recognition of the importance of records in our society and its organizations, although these challenges are pushing archivists to think well beyond the cultural mission so many archivists have chosen to emphasize. The days of archivists sitting quietly in their stacks and waiting for the occasional researcher to appear are long gone (if they ever really existed). Archival anxiety may be the result of this community being shaken out of its complacency.
Richard J. Cox is Professor, Archival Studies, University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences. He has worked as both an archivist and records manager in a private historical society and in state and local government.