Saturday, June 2, 2012

University of Chicago is looking for a Digital Accessions Specialist

I don't see a lot of electronic records paraprofessional position announcements, so this job posting caught my eye.  I'm often leery of paraprofessional jobs: as others have pointed out, repositories that want to hire an archivist but can't or won't pay an archivist's salary sometimes try to resolve this conflict by classifying as paraprofessional jobs that clearly require professional judgment.  It's hard to tell from this posting whether the successful candidate will be responsible for making important decisions within the context of clearly articulated frameworks or for creating said frameworks.  I get the impression that, most of the time, the person who takes this job will operate within the parameters of well-articulated policies and procedures, but a couple of things in this posting do make my spidey sense tingle just a bit.

This position might be a great steppingstone for a new archivist or archivist-to-be who wants to acquire lots of real-world electronic records experience or whose desire to stay in or relocate to Chicago trumps other considerations.  However, if you are a new archivist or archivist-to-be and you opt to apply for this job, I encourage you to do four things:  a) during the interview, ask -- in a non-confrontational but forthright manner -- about the scope of the position's responsibilities and the professional development opportunities that will be available to you; b) be assertive during salary negotiations (as Maureen Callahan asserts, doing so is especially important if you are a woman); c) be prepared to move on if, after a few years, it becomes apparent that there is no possibility of advancement; and d) read Rebecca Goldman's superb post re: the myriad challenges that confront the early-career archivist seeking to move out of a paraprofessional position.

[Update 4 June 2012:  if you need advice re:  how to open salary negotiations, be sure to check out Lynne Thomas's excellent post on this subject.  A big tip o' the hat to C in DC for drawing my attention to this blog!]

If you live or want to live in Chicago and have a year of relevant library or archival work experience, some hands-on electronic records experience, and are familiar with the Linux/Unix command line interface, the University of Chicago's Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) may have a job for you.
Unit Job Summary
Under the direction of the Head of Archives Processing and Digital Access, and in collaboration with the Director of the Digital Library Development Center (DLDC), establishes intellectual control over electronic records, born digital collections, and retrospectively digitized materials received by SCRC, performs pre-accessioning and accessioning work for files deposited by Library staff and others in the Digital Repository, and participates in designing, refining and implementing workflows and procedures for acquiring and accessioning electronic records and born digital materials.

Along with the Archivist for Processing and Digital Access, manages ongoing accessioning relationships with University offices, divisions, departments, faculty members, organizations, and Library donors to ensure the orderly and systematic transfer of electronic records from University offices and donors to SCRC. Transfers electronic records received on physical media as part of archives and manuscripts collections to the digital repository. Creates, maintains and ensures accuracy of accessions records, inventories, files and databases for electronic accessions. Collaborates with the Archives and Manuscripts Accessions Manager to ensure that records for collections containing both analog and digital materials are accurate and complete. Using data collected as part of SCRC's accessioning process, creates collection and accession level records for new deposits in the digital repository. Evaluates content of unprocessed electronic records with special focus on identifying sensitive and restricted material. Evaluates and makes recommendations for developments, refinements and implementations to procedures and workflows for electronic record accessioning and management. Recommends and implements policies, standards and practices for electronic records and collections in digital form. Responds to staff questions about status, content and storage location of electronic records. Maintains statistics on holdings, incoming collections, file requests, and other data required for fiscal reporting.

Performs pre-accessioning evaluations on new deposits, including: evaluates and determines constraints, including rights and permissions and embargo periods; reviews descriptive metadata and manages problem resolution; evaluates valid structural metadata as necessary; ensures consistency in file and folder naming as necessary; evaluates and determines when to convert files to formats suitable for long-term preservation, as necessary; creates descriptive metadata for new accessions; generates required technical and structural metadata for new accessions.  Creates rights statements for new accessions; recommends and implements workflows for deposit and accessioning best practices; manages workflow compliance through collaboration with depositors.

Contributes to SCRC, DLDC and Library goals. Submits regular reports on archives and manuscripts electronic records accessioning and related Digital Repository responsibilities. Serves as a member of Library committees and working groups. Pursues and maintains knowledge of current developments in information technology and electronic records management.

  • Bachelor's Degree required. 
  • Minimum of one year relevant library or related experience required.
  • Previous experience working with electronic records required.
  • Previous work experience with Unix/Linux command-line tools to perform automated tasks required. 
  • Excellent writing skills and organizational skills required. 
  • Ability to manage multiple concurrent projects and shifts in priority required.
  • Sound independent judgment and discretion required.
  • Excellent problem-solving skills required.
  • Ability to work effectively and collegially with University staff, administrators, faculty and donors required.
  • Ability to work effectively and collegially with supervisors, peers and other staff required.
  • Ability to work well independently required.
  • Ability to handle confidential matters with prudence required.
  • Familiarity with word processing, spreadsheet, and database management programs and online library information systems required.
  • Ability to conceptualize and manage large collections in diverse formats required.
For application instructions, information about benefits and related matters, and information about living and working in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, consult the position description.


C in DC said...

Lynne Marie Thomas did an excellent blog post last year about negotiating your salary. I'll see if I can find it for you.

C in DC said...

Found it (much more quickly than I thought I would).