ICA New Professionals newsletter no 7 - May 2017
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Welcome to the May edition of the ICA New Professionals Newsletter all about getting started in archives and records management.


This month's newsletter features articles from new professionals sharing stories of how they got involved in archives and records management and their experiences and advice for continuing professional development and training. Highlights include: how new professionals  can use short-term contract jobs to their advantage and the life changing mentorship programme a new professional was involved in.

Also included in this edition of the newsletter are details of this year’s successful New Professionals Programme applicants and a link to the
ICA New Professionals Final Survey Report 2016, which is now available to read online.

Scroll down or click below to read about:

A Spanish version of this newsletter is also available!
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Past editions of the newsletter are available to view on the ICA website and online.

Project Working as a New Professional

I started my archives career as a cataloguing volunteer in late 2011. Following this I gained experience as a trainee archivist before I qualified from a professional archives and records management course in 2015. Last summer I spoke at an event for new recordkeeping professionals in Manchester, England, about my experience of finding work during my first year as a qualified archivist. As well as being honest about the difficulties of job seeking as a newly qualified professional, I spoke about the potential benefits of contract working in helping new professionals like me in building experience and gaining further skills. Many new professionals are understandably disheartened by the dominance of short term contracts, but I explained how I had used a series of project posts to establish myself as an archivist.
I have undertaken a series of fixed term contracts, working on different archive projects. This appears to be a common experience for many new graduates. In each case my initial contracts have been extended, and again this seems to be a shared experience. In practice, however, we know that this often results in uncertainty and can be stressful.
Completing a series of different short term posts has nevertheless given me the opportunity to build up fantastic experience in a short space of time, and since qualifying as an archivist I have been consistently employed. I have been able to work in a variety of environments, lead on innovative projects, meet a range of people and engage with some truly amazing collections. When applying for project or fixed term posts, I have always considered what would make be a better archivist – seeking opportunities to fill gaps in my knowledge or build on existing areas which are lacking.
In my first professional post, I undertook a one month cataloguing project and my next role, a five month assistant archivist contract, had a focus on delivering public services in a university setting. In both cases the contracts were extended. Subsequently, I was looking for an opportunity to take on further responsibility, and ideally a longer-term post. I became the first professional archivist at a medical school, responsible for establishing a new archive service, initially on a one year contract. This was a very different experience and helped me to grow as an archivist. Having previously worked as part of a team of archivists, I was now working as a lone archivist and was able to gain experience of writing policies, preparing funding bids and building partnerships.
Elisabeth working as a lone archivist in 2016
Elisabeth working as a lone archivist in 2016
Today I am working as a digital archivist, establishing a corporate digital repository. I was attracted to this because of the opportunity to learn more about managing digital records and to be part of a growing and exciting area of archives. As in all my previous roles, I am proactively seeking opportunities to gain the most from my time working on the project. Four months in and this has included speaking at events and, in a career milestone for me, I submitted a conference paper, which has been accepted.
I am now in my fourth job in 23 months. Reflecting on my first two years as an archivist, the four very different jobs have allowed me to develop as an archives professional. I have admittedly been fortunate working in London, a city home to many archives and employers of archivists – I know many new professionals have had to move great distances to secure roles. Wherever you find yourself, opportunities to further develop yourself may be available. For example, volunteering within your organisation to manage and grow an archive’s social media presence or getting involved in advocacy events, such as International Archives Day.
Something I’ve found reassuring has been speaking to other new professionals, who have faced similar periods of uncertainty, or growing frustration as they prepare yet another job application. Alongside my day-to-day job, I volunteer as the Communications Officer for the Archives and Records Association’s (UK & Ireland) Section for New Professionals. Like the ICA New Professionals Programme, we support new professionals who are beginning their careers in archives, records or conservation. Getting involved in the activities of my professional body has allowed me to meet and speak to other new professionals, who are facing the same challenges when navigating the job market.
It hasn’t happened yet, but I am confident I am taking the right steps towards gaining that elusive permanent job, whilst enjoying working as an archivist.
Written by Elisabeth Thurlow, United Kingdom
Digital Archivist, Royal College of Nursing

Photograph of Elisabeth Thurlow

Find Elisabeth on LinkedIn 

Follow the Archives and Records Association’s (UK & Ireland) Section for New Professionals on Twitter @ARAnewprofs

Read the Archives and Records Association’s (UK & Ireland) Section for New Professionals regular blog  at
New Professionals Programme successful applicants for 2017!

The 2017 selection process for the New Professionals Programme has been completed. 76 applications from 38 countries were submitted, from which 45 were valid and have been assessed by a group of 8 PCOM members.

The great majority of applications were of high quality and ranking them was a difficult task. Priority was given to passionate new professionals, who are already informed about, and sometimes involved with, the NPP network. Team spirit, commitment and focused ideas on what the Programme can bring them and what they can bring to the Programme are also common qualities of the successful applicants, who will attend their very first ICA Conference in Mexico City next November:

Eugenia Alves, Argentina

Elise Bradshaw, Australia

Stephanie Calderon Torres, Costa Rica

Javier Garibay, United States of America

Robin Koning, Canada

Joy Rowe, Canada

ICA wishes to thank all the applicants and encourages them to engage with the Programme and its members in 2017, and to reapply next year.

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Lauréats de l'appel à candidatures 2017 pour le Programme Nouveaux Professionnels du Conseil international des archives. 

La procédure de sélection pour le Programme Nouveaux Professionnels en 2017 est désormais achevée. 78 candidatures ont été soumises, issues de 38 pays. 45 d'entre elles étaient valides et ont été évaluées par un groupe de 8 membres de la Commission pour le programme. 

La plupart des candidatures était de grande qualité et établir un classement n'a pas été facile. La priorité a été donnée à de nouveaux professionnels passionnés, déjà informés sur, et pour certains d'entre eux déjà associés avec, le Programme. 
L'esprit d'équipe, la volonté de s'engager, une vision claire de ce que le Programme peut leur apporter et de ce qu'eux-mêmes peuvent faire à son service, sont aussi des traits communs aux lauréats, qui assisteront en novembre prochain à leur première conférence du Conseil international à Mexico:

Eugenia Alves, Argentine
Elise Bradshaw, Australie
Stephanie Calderon Torres, Costa Rica
Javier Garibay, Etats-Unis
Robin Koning, Canada
Joy Rowe, Canada

Le Conseil international des archives souhaite remercier tous les candidats et les invite à entrer en contact avec le Programme et ses membres en 2017, avant de candidater de nouveau l'an prochain.

Mentorship Can Change Someone’s Life

When I was younger, I never realised the impact mentoring can have on a person’s life and career, but I have now experienced this impact first hand. The guidance of other archivists has played a key role in my educational and professional life. Mentors can provide new professionals with the confidence and support they need to explore the world of archives and discover what they are capable of achieving on their own.
After graduating from the University of Manitoba with a bachelor’s degree in Labour Studies with a focus on labour law, I soon discovered the difficulty of breaking into a professional field without assistance.  After returning to school for another degree in Human Resource Management, I again encountered numerous roadblocks on the way to establishing myself. In need of an income to pay the bills, I resigned myself to a job as a clerk in a Library and Archives Canada records centre, without having any particular interest in archives. 

I was eventually promoted to an archival assistant and began working with David Horky who is the on-site archivist in the Winnipeg Regional office of the Library and Archives Canada.  I noticed the work that was being done by him and found it interesting.  It was then that he began to guide me down the career path of becoming an archivist.  I had so much to learn but he was a great teacher and mentor.  I felt comfortable asking him mundane questions as he knew I had little background in the field.   I was lucky as he was a dedicated archivist with a passion for the field and he was only too happy to share his knowledge and experience, which I know made me passionate about archives. 

Unfortunately, without a master’s degree, I would have had to have a career as an archival assistant until retirement which I would have been quite satisfied with doing.  It was another mentor in my life that pushed me forward to becoming an archivist.  It was Professor Tom Nesmith of the Archival Studies Master’s Program at the University of Manitoba.  Every year since I started working at the Library and Archives Canada, he would bring his class to tour our facility and always told me that I should enroll in the program as I knew just as much, and if not more than his students.  I had a wife, three kids, a mortgage and had no idea if it was even possible. Tom really believed in me and instilled a confidence that I did not have on my own that I could actually do it. He really pushed me forward and even though I did not have a history degree, he was instrumental in convincing the University that I would not have any problem completing the program.  Even working full time plus the extra hours and going to University full time, I was able to obtain a 4.0 GPA on my first year of the program. 

I also have another mentor which I was able to meet at the ICA Congress in Seoul, Korea in September 2016.  Katharine Stuart is a digital records and information specialist for the Australian Government Department of Finance.  She was assigned by the ICA to help me prepare, interact, socialize and network at the Congress.  She helped me network with many influential archival professionals.  Instead of treating me like a mentee, she treated me like a colleague and I never once felt uncomfortable with her or asking her questions.  Her vast background in digital records was something I was hoping for in a mentor and she has an amazing wealth of knowledge in the field.    She was a wonderful mentor for the Congress and remains a mentor to me and I will keep in contact with her for many years to come. 

I know that these mentors changed my life forever and I know that I want to do the same for someone in the future when the opportunity arises.  For anyone thinking, mentoring is not for me, either being a mentor or mentee, just think about it.  If you are at all interested in becoming a mentor or mentee, contact your local archival association and if there is none in your location, the ICA is currently developing their own mentorship program.  The mentorship may end up being long distance but in today’s day and age with Facebook, Facetime, and videoconferencing, contacting someone across the world has become as easy as contacting someone next door.  Give mentorship a try, it can change someone’s life.

Written by Ryan Courchene, Canada
Archival Assistant, Public Services Branch Library and Archives Canada

Photograph of Ryan Courchene
Library and Archives Canada / Government of Canada
ICA New Professionals Final Survey Report 2016

Last year the New Professional Programme asked our fellow new professionals from around the world to answer a survey. We presented some of our findings at the ICA Congress in September 2016 and now our final survey report is available online!

The report was presented to PCOM by Cécile Fabris (our New Professional Programme Coordinator) at their spring meeting in Arusha on Monday 15 May to a positive response and the ICA will look at actioning our recommendations.

A french translation will be available soon!

Spring Break in Style: Interning at the Ford Presidential Library

Written by Sarah Conrad, USA
Graduate Student, Wayne State University

Photograph of Sarah Conrad

Ask any college student what comes to mind when you mention, “spring break” and you will most likely hear a variety of answers relating to, “vacation,” and “relaxation.” Ask this same question to a graduate student in Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science and their responses will more likely include, “education opportunity,” and “internship experience.” This difference is due to the outstanding Alternative Spring Break Program offered to LIS students at Wayne State that provides students the opportunity to spend spring break in an internship specific to their field of study. The weeklong program allows students to work alongside information professionals and gain hands-on experience while also interacting with professionals in the field. The program is still fairly new, but previous internship locations have included: the Smithsonian, the National Archives, the Henry Ford Museum, and OCLC.  Students interested in the program submit an application and short essay describing why they feel the opportunity would be beneficial for their future careers. This year saw a record number of applications and I was lucky enough to be one of three students chosen to intern at the Ford Presidential Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As an aspiring archivist, this was a chance for me to see first hand what archival work was like, and I was incredibly thankful for the opportunity.
Each day of my internship was something new and exciting. For the short time that we were there, we were assigned to work on processing boxes from three different collections: the Ford Congressional Papers, Bulk Mail regarding the Nixon pardon, and mail sent to Mrs. Ford after her controversial “60 Minutes” interview. Records in each of these collections needed to be sorted into acid free folders and required basic preservation such as removing rusty staples and separating newspaper clippings. One day these collections will be available for researchers to use, and I am proud to have played a part in making this happen. Compared to the incredible time and effort previous archivists have put into these collections ensuring they are accessible, the small amount of time we spent removing staples and rehousing papers may not seem like much, but it is these small acts that will help preserve the records longer, and keep them available to researchers. Even such a small task can have a major impact and it was incredibly gratifying to have been a part of this process.

Group photograph

From left to right: Nathaniel Arndts, Natalie Piernak, Stacy Davis, and Sarah Conrad. Stacy Davis was the supervisory archivist for all three Alternative Spring Break Interns at the Ford Presidential Library.

The experience I gained from working with collections at the Ford Library was only part of what made my spring break internship so worthwhile. When we were not rehousing collections, we were meeting with the library archivists to learn more about their various roles and responsibilities. We met with the audio/visual archivist who gave us a tour of the many photos and films the library houses and preserves. In addition, we spent some time with the declassification team who demonstrated some of the work they go through to ensure the security and privacy of sensitive materials in the collections. Not only were these meetings a great way to further our understanding of concepts we have been discussing in classes, but it also was an amazing opportunity to make new connections. Every archivist we spoke with at the Ford Library was very welcoming and willing to answer our questions and provide advice as we prepare to enter the archival field. We were making connections that would potentially last our entire careers.

Sarah Conrad Processing Photo

Processing bulk mail letters sent to President Ford regarding his pardon of Richard Nixon. Many of the letters required basic preservation such as removing rusty staples and acidic newspaper clippings. 
Looking back on this internship, I am fortunate enough to attend Wayne State University where such an opportunity exists for me to gain such valuable work experience and make lasting connections.  While it was only a week, the time I spent at the Ford Presidential Library was some of the most rewarding work experience I have had, and has become a major influence for my future career. I had never before considered working in a government repository, but I enjoyed the work so much it is now something I will seriously consider. A short internship like the one offered through the Alternative Spring Break program may not give as in-depth an experience as other internships, but sometimes it doesn’t take much to make the opportunity worthwhile. I have learned it is important to take any chance you can to earn hands-on experience, because you never know what you will learn or what it will lead to.  This summer I will be returning to the Ford Library as a paid intern and I might never had been offered this job had it not been for the Alternative Spring Break Program and the week I spent working instead of vacationing.
Sarah Conrad is a second year student at Wayne State University’s School of Library and Information Science where she is pursuing her masters in Library Science with a certificate in Archival Administration. Sarah is also the Social Media Manager of Wayne State’s Society of American Archivists Student Chapter.

Check them out at:
Twitter: @WayneSt_SAA 
Attend Meetings Online:

Call for July Newsletter contributions

The theme of the next newsletter is 'digital records and records management.' 
 We welcome contributions from new professionals on any topic related to this theme. If you have any stories or advice to share with other new professionals then get in touch!

We would love to hear about any digitisation projects you have been involved in, or your experiences working with born-digital records.

Let us know about your experiences working with current records or advising others on how best to manage their records. What have you enjoyed and how have you overcome the challenges?

We welcome entries written in any language. If you are interested please send us a message including a brief outline of your proposed article by Sunday 25 June 2017 at or contact us on Facebook or Twitter and we will be in touch with more details. 

The new professionals community wants to hear from you!

Trainee Archivists at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Laura Luca and Kate Doughty are the two Trainee Archivists at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) based in Maidenhead, UK. They began their traineeship last May, and are keen to share their experiences with others at the beginning of their career.

I’m Laura, and after graduating with an English BA, I started my first job within the Information Services sector as a Library Assistant at Royal Holloway University. Shortly afterwards I began volunteering in the College archives and was introduced to the Archives and Records Association (ARA); this very quickly opened doors to new volunteering opportunities, such as at The National Theatre archive, as well as many training and networking events. It was also at this point that I joined the ‘Trainees Group’, part of ARA’s New Professionals Section. These networking events, together with my volunteering and training experiences, have been a huge help to my understanding of the profession and my continuing development.

I’m Kate, and I have had my heart set on becoming an archivist for several years now, undertaking my first work experience placement in my local record office while at school. Since then I have gained lots of practical experience in the museums, libraries and archives professions, gathering bits of knowledge as I go while working in a variety of settings; most recently the Mills Archive based in Reading, UK. Attending formal training sessions, conferences and networking opportunities are definitely the biggest influences upon my career so far; they allow a much deeper understanding of the sector and are a fantastic creative space to share ideas and develop working solutions to many of the challenges archivists and other information professionals face.
Kate and Laura Kent Presentation Photograph
Kate and Laura giving a presentation to University of Kent students for the open day they organised at the CWGC Head Office in February 2017
The CWGC’s archive department was established in 2013 with the appointment of a permanent professional archivist, and since then the team has grown to five – including ourselves as its first trainees. As such, many of the day-to-day practices of other archives, such as handling documents in a designated reading room instead of on coffee cup filled desks, have not yet been embedded into the culture of the organisation – something which we are endeavouring to change.

As well as helping to increase internal awareness of the vast and rich collections the organisation holds by hosting open afternoons for staff to drop in to, we are fortunate to be able to shape the archive’s practice in many other ways. One particular addition to our output has been the introduction of an ‘archive image of the week’ published on the Commission’s social media channels (which include Twitter, Facebook, a blog, and Instagram). 
Not only does this ensure that the organisation as a whole is reaching out to different audiences and engaging them in history, but it also provides a fantastic, tangible way to show the importance of our collections within the Commission’s day-to-day running, and indicates that our material is available for researchers and staff members to use and enjoy.
Kate and Laura Social Media Image
Example of one of the trainee's new initiatives to send out an archive photograph every Thursday from the Commission's main account
We are often tasked with providing historical information from our archive to staff, which can then be used at national and international events, on information panels, or in education packs. It has also been instrumental in providing content for projects such as the new CWGC website, due to launch in the early summer. Some of our most recent contributions have been to an Ambassador’s visit to Head Office, a talk given by our Archivist at a Meridian Society event and writing regular articles for our intranet to reach employees of the Commission across the world. As trainees, we also proposed, organised, and led an event for the national Explore Your Archive campaign at our head office, involving around 80 members of the public from the local community. This work involves lots of research, and we are also continuously involved in smaller cataloguing projects which are contributing to the much anticipated release of CALMView to the public.

Being the first trainees at the CWGC means that we have been encouraged to keep up our attendance at various training days, including at a Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) student conference, ARA’s regional film and sound archive training, and visited other business archives with the UK Archives Trainees group, amongst others. Prior to starting our traineeship, the CWGC was in touch with the Bank of England Archive to ask about their experience, and we have continued this relationship by arranging reciprocal visits to our respective archives. Our networking has been valuable to the development of the traineeship itself, and has contributed to the continuation of the scheme from September with new trainees.
Kate and Laura ICA SPA Photograph
International Council on Archives' Section for Business Archives Conference in Stockholm, April 2017
It is only recently that we discovered the International Council on Archives, and it seemed fitting that as a worldwide organisation we should become more involved and aware of our colleagues across the globe. As such, we attended the ICA’s Section for Business Archives’ (SBA) fantastic conference in Stockholm this spring. It proved immensely useful for us as we got to meet various business archivists and see how some of the challenges we face are prevalent in other organisations too.

Discussions in Stockholm, as well as our practical experience at the Commission, have taught us to become increasingly aware of the need to develop a publically minded skillset; something ever-increasingly desirable as archivists’ roles develop into becoming storytellers as well as the keepers of records.

If you would like to get in touch, please take a look at our Twitter feeds and LinkedIn accounts – we’d love to hear from you and answer any questions you might have!
Contact details:

CWGC Website
Laura Luca, United Kingdom
Laura Luca Photograph
Kate Doughty, United Kingdom
Kate Doughty Photograph
Internship Programme: United Nations
Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals

New professionals may be interested to know that the mechanism for international criminal tribunals in Arusha takes interns (please note the internships are not funded). Anyone interested in working with these very specific archival issues are welcome to apply.

The number and nature of internships are on a continuous basis according to the Mechanism's needs and possibilities. As a consequence, the selection and recruitment procedure for internships is on an ongoing basis. Internships will generally range from a minimum of three months to a maximum of six months. In exceptional circumstances, internships of a longer or shorter duration may be possible.

From Research to Repositories – My Journey in Archives

Meg Venter, United Kingdom
The National Archives

Photograph of Meg Venter

After completing a Masters degree in American Studies at the University of Manchester in 2013, I set sail across the pond to continue my research at Smith College, a private women’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts. Smith is home to the Sophia Smith Collection, a world-renowned repository of women’s history. I experienced my ‘archival turn’ whilst using the SSC archives – I’d never used an archives before, and I was hooked, becoming increasingly more interested in what was going on behind the scenes than I was with my research.

One particular memory that sticks with me is a poster that was proudly displayed in the reading room, proclaiming ‘Archival grrrls rock – outlast the patriarchy.’ Within this repository that housed records of feminist action and activism, from the struggle for suffrage to the movements for reproductive justice, the importance of records became apparent, not only as historical evidence but as living things, as relevant to contemporary politics as they were when first committed to paper. Having been heavily involved in feminist politics and campaigning throughout my time at university, I also felt personally drawn to these papers, able to place myself within a lineage of activism, enabled by archives.

Upon returning to the UK, I set about learning how I could become an archivist, volunteering in a range of different institutions to get further experience in the sector. I was fortunate enough to be offered a part-time paid position in one of the repositories I volunteered in – Barclays Group Archives, the corporate archive of the global financial group. Working alongside the archivists, I helped plan, implement and deliver Barclays Digital Archives, a website charting the development of the bank across three centuries. Selecting content to be digitised was one of the highlights of the project, and gave colleagues and myself a chance to reflect on changing attitudes to women, both as employees and consumers, through highlighting records that told these stories. Although it may not be apparent upon first learning about the repository, as one that bears witness to societal changes over 300 years, it’s a rich resource of social history, both in the UK and globally, and one that I’m always using as an example when speaking about the multiplicity of narratives that archives hold.

Shortly before I qualified as an archivist and records manager at the University of Liverpool, I was employed at The National Archives (UK) in the Archives Sector Development department, where we have responsibility for leading the archive sector in England and Wales, and have recently published our new strategic vision for the sector.

My role as Cultural Property Officer is multifaceted and has seen my involvement in a range of projects from Manage Your Collections, a tool that allows services to upload their catalogue data onto Discovery, our unified catalogue, to my involvement as a lead assessor for the UK standard for repositories, Archive Service Accreditation.  Accreditation helps participating repositories to develop their service against a nationally agreed standard, and involvement in assessing the standard has also been a great developmental opportunity for me, helping me to deepen the knowledge I gained during my previous employment and studies in a national context. It’s also an incredibly fascinating way to experience the variety of contexts repositories are found within, from national institutions to specialist services dedicated to a particular theme, and to meet and develop relationships with other professionals in a mutually supportive and collaborative environment. I’d encourage other new professionals in the UK to take part in Accreditation through training to become a peer reviewer for assessment, giving you the opportunity to gain an insight into how the standard is administered – something that is likely to be useful, giving the increasing uptake of Accreditation throughout the UK. It’s also a great way for new professionals to experience the application of archival theory to practice, and to demonstrate their knowledge and expertise within a variety of settings. For new professionals worldwide, I’d suggest keeping an eye out for similar developmental opportunities offered through your national bodies or organisations – taking part in such activities is an unparalleled way for you to continue learning and developing outside of the classroom, and to demonstrate all that new professionals are able to contribute to our profession.

Contact details:





Thanks for reading, look out for our next issue in July!
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