Wanted, Free Labor: The Impact and Ethics of Unpaid Work

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Wanted, Free Labor: The Impact and Ethics of Unpaid Work

  1. 1. Wanted: Free Labor The Impact and Ethics of Unpaid Work Lance Stuchell 2011 SAA ConferenceImage courtesy of Flickr member Kevin H. / CC-BY-NC-ND Session 105
  2. 2. This slideshow was originally presented at Session 105 of the 2011 SAA Conference on Thursday, August 25th 2011 (some slides have been edited for clarity)For more information on this presentation, see the blog post at http://newarchivist.com/2011/11/17/free-labor/ This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
  3. 3. This Presentation…• Is Not: – Arguing against internships or volunteerism• WILL: – Outline challenges facing our profession • How internships complicate those challenges – Discuss creating a “Pay it Forward” internship – Draw a distinction • Internships/volunteering for new professionals • Volunteering outside an archives career track
  4. 4. Financial Challenge • Professional positions require Masters degree • Cost of graduate programs • Small number of scholarship opportunities • Prolonged job search 1 – Average of 6-months 2 – More applicants than positions1 Dana Miller, “Professional Sustainability: The Elephant in the Archives,” 2009 SAA Conference Presentation (109), slide 15.2 Miller, slide 15; Victoria Irons Walch, “A*Census,” American Archivist, vol. 69 no. 2, pg. 312.
  5. 5. Financial Challenge • Does unpaid work compound this challenge? – Limited in-school paid opportunities – Some students simply have to have an income – Inability of some to afford “placeholder” employment opportunitiesImage courtesy of Flickr member jollyUK / CC-BY
  6. 6. Diversity Challenge “The relevance of archives to society and the completeness of the documentary record hinge on the profession’s success in ensuring that its members, the holdings that they collect and manage, and the users that they serve reflect the diversity of society as a whole.” – SAA Statement on Diversityhttp://www2.archivists.org/statements/saa-statement-on-diversity
  7. 7. Diversity Challenge• Does membership diversity include people of different economic backgrounds?• How does unpaid work complicate efforts to diversify our professional ranks? – Limits field to those that can “afford” education and unpaid positions – Is our price of admission too high?
  8. 8. What Do We DO?!?Image courtesy of Flickr member sparktography / CC-BY-NC
  9. 9. Pay It Forward Internships• Unpaid positions ≠ professional positions without pay• If you can pay, pay – Drexel University Archives pays one intern a term – University of Michigan’s IMLS Practicum pays students for summer internship placements• Some work is not appropriate – Is it archival in nature? – Is it better suited for a part-time paid position?
  10. 10. Bad Want Ad Volunteer Wanted!Duties:• Supervision of other volunteers• Processing and cataloging new collections• Planning for technology upgradeQualifications:• Graduate degree in Library Science• Experience with arrangement and description• Experience with archiving digital content
  11. 11. Improved Want Ad Volunteer Wanted!Duties:• Supervision of other volunteers• Processing and cataloging new collections• Planning for technology upgradeQualifications:• Working toward or considering a graduate degree in Library Science• Interest in learning archival arrangement and description standards• Interest in learning how to manage digital content
  12. 12. Conclusion• There is a cost associated with unpaid work• Internships are important, make them count• The archival community needs to respond – Training new archivists is an obligation – Make unethical practice unacceptable Thank You!

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