The Rural

What does an archivist do?

Archivist play an important role preserving the past to it can add value to the future.

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Archivists have a very important role, and yet if asked, many would not know what this role plays in our society.

An archivist is responsible for capturing the present through a number of mediums so that they can serve a purpose in the future, and immortalise accurate information.

Here are some ways in which an archivist can add value to future planning and present a period of time as it should be preserved.

Documentation of environmental events

In the event of a natural disaster or emergency, it is critical that this information and incurred damage are collated.

Not only does this serve as a valuable artefact for the generations ahead, but it can be used periodically to ensure that history does not repeat itself.

Tools like survey dilapidation methodology and city plans can be a great indicator of what has occurred in a natural or outdoor environment. For example, when floods are discussed in Australia, they are benchmarked against the significant floods of 1974. These facts and waterlines have been collated so that society can understand the impact and have greater context.

Photography of events, places and people

We are sure you can picture a few iconic pictures from moments in history, they are either local to you or are known on a global stage.

Archivists are present at these moments in time taking photos of protests, marches, the unveiling of places, and attending small and large occasions.

You can access these mediums in libraries and state facilities generally, as they are archived to be available to the public. They are typically employed by libraries, museums, historical societies, governments and city councils.

Set out to discover what moments you might have missed in history and see how they have been thoroughly documented.

How to become an archivist

For a landscape photographer or historian, being an archivist might represent the 'dream job'.

If you are wondering what sort of qualifications and careers can become an archivist, they are as follows: conservator, librarian, logistics clerk, museum officer, research and development manager, research officer and health information manager.

The role requires high attention to detail, data entry skills, the ability to work independently and general enthusiasm for research and analysis. Studying the humanities and social sciences at university is the typical path to an archivist role, although information technology courses may also prove to be useful for the role.

Contributing to the history of a city

If you are someone who possesses artefacts from a generation past or has diligently collected something that no longer is available - then you may be able to contribute this.

We often see displays at the museum that are donated from families and institutions who no longer need them, but are willing to have them digitised and seen by others. Typically these items will need to be unique, well-preserved and capture a time in history.

Old magazines, advertisements, textbooks and other items that were widely distributed are of interest to an archivist. So are photography and film in their raw state. This allows an archivist to develop that film with modern technologies and get a better picture finish and representation of that time.


If you have an interest in pursuing this career, contributing artefacts to an institution or simply have a general curiosity about yesteryear - start checking out what is available in your library.