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Forum: National Advisory Board

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Archivists Census Data & Results


I am pleased to be able to participate in the work of the National Advisory Board because it connects so closely to the goals of the A*CENSUS (Archival Census and Education Needs Survey in the US). I think some of our findings will be directly applicable to the National Board's work, while others will of interest because of parallels between archival and library settings.

The A*CENSUS is the first comprehensive survey of individual archivists in the U.S. in more than 20 years. We had 5,620 responses. You can read more about the A*CENSUS on the Society of American Archivists (SAA) website at http://www.archivists.org/a-census/.

Here are some examples of our findings to date:

More than 1/3rd of archivists in the U.S. work in academic settings, most of which are college and university libraries. This has greatly increased the importance of the MLS in our field. While archivists used to come into the profession primarily from history programs, now the MLS/MLIS is a much more common (nearly twice as many MLS degrees now than in 1982, for instance, but half as many PhDs). 70% of our respondents hold some kind of Masters degree.

Another 1/3rd are in government (of which 36% are federal, 39% state, 22% local, 2% tribal) and these individuals tend to be somewhat older than the academic archivists. This is why we are paying close attention to the reports that large numbers of federal and state employees will be retiring in the next decade.

We're also seeing a big gender shift. In a 1956 survey of SAA members, the proportions were 67% men, 33% women. In 2004 it's 34% men, 65% women (1% declined to say). Of those entering the field in the last few years, 80% are women.

Other notable findings: we have very few minorities (regrettable, but not a surprise), the best archival salaries are in the federal government, the largest concentration of archivists is in the Mid-Atlantic region, 28% of our respondents plan to retire in the next decade.

Our detailed final reports won't be ready until late summer or early fall, I'm afraid, but we are posting preliminary data as we get it ready on the SAA website (at the URL noted above). We're also holding two sessions at the SAA meeting in New Orleans on Aug 19. If this group has any specific questions in the meantime, I could prepare some tables before the Board meets at ALA in June. A complete set of the questions we asked is also available on the SAA site. We have also just finished preparing a public use version of the dataset that will ultimately be made available through ICPSR.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Vicki Walch (vwalch@aol.com)
A*CENSUS Principal Research Consultant
Phone: 319-338-6650

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