I recently started reading ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Rubin. In the book, the author describes a year-long quest to change her life, with monthly goals divided into twelve chapters. I plan to read one chapter per month this year, and so far I am keeping up.
The March chapter focuses on happiness with work. Rubin opens with, ‘Happiness is a critical factor for work, and work is a critical factor for happiness’. She notes that ‘happy people work more hours each week’ and they ‘work more in their free time too’. At some points of my career I would have disagreed with her. However, I do find with my current profession of recordkeeping and archives that, within reason, I am happy to do extra work such as volunteering to run external programs or events for the profession, and writing articles to share my experiences to help other newbies.
Happiness is the topic of this month’s Glam Blog Club, with the question asking, ‘What makes you happy? Your job? Visiting your favourite library? Getting lost in an exhibition?’ I say YES to all three! In particular, I’m super-happy with my job. More broadly, I’m super-happy with my profession. In the same way that another Glam Blog Clubber this month makes no apologies for loving being a librarian, I’m ecstatic to be working in the recordkeeping profession.
Last November I attended an event at Monash University which included a talk by Adrian Cunningham who recently retired from a distinguished career in archives. Cunningham spoke about his profession as a ‘vocation’ and that really resonated with me: ‘Archiving is a vocation, it gets under your skin and once you’ve got the bug you never lose it.’
Don’t get me wrong, I have some criticisms about my profession and how the industry operates in Australia. Particularly around the scarcity of services and opportunities available specifically for new entrants to the profession. Though I do my best to be part of the solution by creating opportunities for students and new professionals.
In my career, after studying a range of humanities disciplines and gaining experience in public-sector governance and administration, I finally landed my dream role of Senior Records Analyst. It wasn’t until I started working in recordkeeping and archives as my core discipline that I felt like I had a profession, a career path, and a community to engage with. Maybe there are professional associations and industry networks in other areas I have work experience in, but I did not come across them in the way that I have in the GLAMR industry.
I could talk all day about what I like about my job and my profession. If I were to focus on one thing, it is that the industry has many opportunities for practitioners and academics to engage with each other. To collaborate and talk with each other. To attend the same events and read the same articles. This means a lot to me as I enjoy studying, I enjoy doing research, and I want a good evidence base to inform my professional practice.
In my experience, recordkeeping and archival industry events such as the Australian Society of Archivists (ASA) annual conference attracts a good mix of practitioners and academics as speakers and attendees. This is important to ensure that research informs practice and vice versa.
I have had the privilege of being exposed to research in practice through a project at work involving a mix of academics and practitioners. That led to a number of opportunities to attend conferences as a speaker within and outside Australia as part of a team including practitioners and academics.
I’m proud of the teamwork and practitioner/academic collaboration that went into the 2017 ASA conference panel I was included in, about bridging the gap between educational theory and on the ground practice (link to video recording of the 90 minute session).
Last year I was included in the delivery of a workshop in Mexico at the International Council on Archives annual conference. I learnt so much from academics Gillian Oliver and Fiorella Foscarini about research which can inform my professional practice. To my humble shock, I got feedback that my reflections on my professional practice added value to the workshop too.
I value the opportunity to be employed as a practitioner who can get things done, while having (internal and external) opportunities for ongoing exposure and access to academic discussions and emerging research.
Some weekends I get carried away doing professional reading and writing or doing homework for my studies in information and knowledge management. Other weekends I completely switch off and walk away, and focus on other interests. But I’m always happy to return after a break. Rubin had made a career change from lawyer to writer, as writing was her passion. She found with her new career that she was, as she explains it, ‘as eager for Monday mornings as I was for Friday afternoons.’ As much as I love my weekends, I really do look forward to Monday mornings as it’s my official start each week back into my vocation. And that makes me happy.