Archive for March, 2011


Writing my own job description

**Update, 4 April 2011: My position description has not yet been updated. This is a draft document. Thanks for reading!

Last week, our long-time coordinator of Baptist archives retired. At the same time, our department head asked each of us to put on our thinking caps and consider ways to restructure our team to better reflect our priorities.

Knowing that an opportunity to discuss restructuring doesn’t come very often, I began looking critically at my current position description. As processing archivist and digital projects manager, I knew that my position was a combination of two important jobs suggested by an archival consultant months before I arrived. These two jobs were meshed into a project archivist position. Over the next year, it became more clear that my position seemed to schizophrenically address the same priority: to create access to archival materials. The consultant’s report suggested a processing archivist and a digital projects manager as two separate roles.

I recognized that the consultant’s suggestions were appropriate. I spoke with my intern-turned-associate who recently finished library school, and she seemed to be a perfect fit for a position that we started calling “access archivist,” essentially taking on the role of coordinating processing, accessioning, and helping select collections for digitization. I began to think that I could serve the role of digital projects archivist…and brought the idea to the department head.

Here is (the second draft, after suggestions from my supervisor) what I created. The role is based on job descriptions for positions including “digital projects archivist,” “digital archivist,” and “digital projects librarian.”


The Digital Projects Archivist will coordinate a program for digitization of analog and curation of born-digital archival resources; supervise metadata creation, authority control, quality control, and workflow for digitization projects involving archival and manuscript materials; and participate in digital preservation efforts. S/he will create and improve online finding aids and lead the department to more effective and robust implementation of descriptive tools and standards. S/he will process archival and manuscript collections, focusing in particular on those collections that are un- or under processed and are promising candidates for digital projects. The Digital Projects Archivist is responsible for maintaining equipment used for digitization. S/he will help coordinate discovery tools and interfaces for digital archival materials and collections; supervise student assistants; and provide user instruction for students, faculty, and other researchers. This is a twelve-month Visiting Assistant Librarian appointment, reporting to the Director of Special Collections and University Archives.


Education, Experience, and Training

Master’s degree in Library Science; at least two years working in an academic or special collections library with an emphasis in archival processing and description and/or digital projects. An equivalent combination of education and experience may be accepted.

Knowledge, Skills, Ability

  • Expert knowledge of archival description software, such as Archivists’ Toolkit.
  • Knowledge of recent changes in archival practice, particularly minimal processing; coupled with the judgment and research skills to proceed beyond minimal processing when a collection merits it.
  • Experience with digital projects, preferably in a coordinating role.
  • Ability to manage a digital production lab, including a variety of scanners, scanning software, scanning techniques and best practices for a wide range of formats. High level of organization and foresight in managing multiple projects executed by multiple individuals; coupled with the ability to communicate the organization and workflow to others so that they understand rationales.
  • Attentiveness to good order and security of originals chosen for digital projects.
  • Understanding of metadata standards and description of digital collections including Dublin Core, MODS, METS, XML/XSL, EAD, MARC, LCSH, AAT, and other traditional and non-traditional schemas.
  • Working knowledge of XML, XSLT, databases, web design, and digital asset management systems.
  • Familiarity with standards and best practices for digital collections and digital preservation.
  • Understanding of best practices for rights management, copyright, and associated concepts related to digitization.
  • Excellent interpersonal and oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to work effectively, both independently and collaboratively, within a collegial environment.
  • Ability to succeed as Library Faculty in an academic environment.
  • Evidence of ability to represent Wake Forest University within the University and to external audiences at state, regional, and national levels.


  • Advance the processes by which the department expands its intellectual control over its holdings through the skilled use of archival management software (such as Archivists’ Toolkit) and migration of this information to future tools. The Digital Project Archivist will invest at least a third of his/her time in addressing the department’s archival backlog and inadequate finding aids.
  • Coordinate a digital projects advisory group and program for the creation, access, and preservation of digital archival and manuscript collections.
  • Coordinate workflow design, digital production, and quality control for digital projects in collaboration with a variety of programming and digital project-oriented librarians and staff, including the Preservation Librarian, Web Services Librarian, Digital Production Coordinator, and Access Archivist.
  • Participate in the coordination of the department’s digital production lab, including troubleshooting for scanning equipment and communicating maintenance concerns with the technology group within the Research, Instruction, and Technology Services team.
  • Supervise creation and application of metadata for digital collections, including thesauri and descriptive schemas.
  • Manage digital assets created from digitized and born-digital archival collections through collaboration with digital projects staff as well as shared coordination of the library’s institutional repository (DSpace).
  • Participate in supervision of archival processing and description according to DACS, including creation of EAD XML and MARC records for finding aids.
  • Ensure compliance with grant-funded digital projects and assist Department of Special Collections and Archives with grant proposals and grant-funded project workflows.
  • Help lead user interface changes for finding aids and digital collections in collaboration with the Department of Special Collections and Archives and the Research, Instruction, and Technology Services team.
  • Provide reference service and research assistance in Special Collections. Provide library instruction in Special Collections and in general collection for subject areas of expertise.
  • Participate in outreach, marketing, assessment, and other library initiatives. Contribute cooperatively to library initiatives. Participate in team and library-wide activities. Serve on library committees.
  • Participate in local, regional, or national professional organizations; enrich professional experience by attending conferences and continuing education opportunities.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Essentially, my goal is to move forward with the ongoing process of creating and formalizing digitization policies and processes. Processing and knowing about the scanning equipment were added in the second draft, though I feel that these could be full time positions on their own. Now I wait for feedback/approval from library administration. Have you ever written your own job description?