I’ll conclude my diversion into archival education by looking at one more example of recent scholarship.  In 2004, Elizabeth Yakel published “Educating archival professionals in the twenty-first century” in OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives.  Yakel worked for 15 years as an archivist, including working at the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Maryknoll Mission Archives.  She served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences (1997-2000) and then moved to the University of Michigan School of Information, where she moved up the ranks from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor and is currently Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Yakel provided an overview of the history of archival education — beginning with Ernst Posner at American University in the late 1940s and expanding into other history departments.  Although the Society of American Archivists (SAA) developed guidelines for graduate archival education, unlike the American Library Association, SAA has no power of accreditation.  Yet in tandem with these recommendations for higher educational requirements, interest in archival courses rose, development of archival curricula spread, and the number of full-time tenure-track archival educators increased.

Yakel identified four results of this growth of graduate level archival education:

  1. New archivists arrive at jobs needing much less on-the-job training (i.e., the apprenticeship model is gone).
  2. Although she doesn’t elaborate, Yakel suggested the continuing education needs of newly-minted archivists are different from those of previous generations.
  3. New archivists tend to have technological expertise that isn’t always shared by their more experienced colleagues.
  4. Once again without elaboration, Yakel contended “younger archivists join the profession with a very different attitude toward archives allied professions including history, library science, information, and records management” (153).

Yakel commented on a point also raised by Joseph Turrini in last week’s post — specifically, that archival education has sought to differentiate itself from schools of library and information science and departments of history.  She referenced a 2001 case study by Randall Jimerson that contended the last three decades of the 20th century witnessed this differentiation, but with the beginning of the 21st century, Yakel identified a “convergence of the information disciplines [that] has called the distinctions between related disciplines into question” (152).  She asserted that digital technologies have contributed to this convergence because patrons are likely to want to access dispersed information sources more easily than can be accomplished in the physical world.  Yakel pointed out there will be benefits and costs for the archival world from this convergence:

  • Archives are likely to get more exposure.
  • It will necessitate “a broader range of technological skills, knowledge management skills, patron interaction methods, as well as collection development techniques that extend across genres, institutions, and formats” (154).
  • Archival theory, skills, and practice might become diluted.