Why you shouldn’t become an archivist: the video

I’m guessing many of you saw this video about why you shouldn’t go to library school. So did Amy and I. But we decided it didn’t apply to archivists very well, so we made our own video. Thanks, Amy!

(Hey archives n00bs: the reality of being an archivist is somewhere between what the grad school admissions people will tell you and this video. Please talk to a real live archivist before you decide that this is the field for you!)

Updated August 2013: Xtranormal is dead, but here’s a link to download the video.

30 Responses to “Why you shouldn’t become an archivist: the video”

  1. LIz Says:

    Yessss! I can’t wait to sleep in my car this August in Chicago!
    But seriously, this is good.
    Too good!

    [In I-graduate-in-5-months-panic here!]

  2. rgsc Says:

    I think you are right: the reality is between the glossy brochure version of the profession and the perspective of the video but you are spot on for a lot of this. So many fantastic lines in this. Great job.

  3. MJN Says:

    This is priceless. Archival mentoring at its de-motivational best. I laughed, I cried, I laughed so hard I cried.

  4. Mandi Says:

    I keep trying to watch the video, but the link is broken!

  5. Miranda Says:

    very, very, nice. And really so, so, true. I especially liked the end — It smells like Vinegar…..

  6. BrooklynBlowback Says:

    Bravo! You covered many important points from mandatory unpaid internships to low salaries for contract projects to high costing professional conferences. Thanks for doing it!

  7. David Says:

    You are brilliant. Sometimes truest things are the funniest!!!!

  8. V Says:

    This video certainly applies to the academic archivist’s life. Except the teddy bears. We don’t allow pets.

  9. Kevin Says:

    “The stuff of history is infested with mold” That is my favorite line of the day. It should be on a t-shirt.

  10. bbs Says:

    I’ve been in the profession 30 years and I have to say that all that you say seems to be spot on for the younger people now, though wasn’t true at all when I got into the profession. Video is very, very funny. Thanks for doing this!

  11. Elizabeth Waddell Says:

    Ha! I watch this as I wait for people scramble for funding to renew my expiring contract and search for laundry soap that will get mouse pooh, insect leavings and mold out of my clothes. Still laughing.

  12. Deb Schiff Says:

    Wow that’s so close to home. Funny, yet terribly sad at the same time. Um, thanks?

  13. Horton Says:

    Funny video, but so very sadly true. I wonder what I would have done had I seen this before going down the Archival path so beautifully described here.

  14. Maureen Says:

    You’re amazing, Rebecca. I cried and laughed until I wasn’t sure which I was doing.

  15. Shrike58 Says:

    You hit the ball out of the park!

    Red Rot! Red Rot! Rah! Rah! Rah!

  16. | The Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory Says:

    […] cynical. By Derangement and Description, Rebecca Goldman and Amy […]

  17. Lisa Fox Says:

    Brava! Hilarious. I love the “aspiring to own a washer and dryer by your mid-40s.”

  18. Mel82 Says:

    I love your work, R.! I definitely learned some of these truths the hard way, and am finishing out my studies without any further archival courses.

    As a grad school mentor told me, “You can always love old materials, but not necessarily work with them everyday.”

    And red rod can come out of khakis!

  19. Val Harris Says:

    Hilarious! This should be required viewing in all archives classes!

  20. Anne Says:

    Love it! Love it! Been sending it to just about everybody in the Finnish archival community! Regards from Finland! I am 58 – I still do not have that washer, working as university archivist AND with manuscripts…

  21. Elle Says:

    Gosh..I was thinking about going to school to be an archivist and now this has me a little nervous. Would you suggest an alternative route? I really did sound like that one naive bear. I hope you have a moment to answer me..Thanks!

  22. tshephomosweu Says:


  23. Shelley Sweeney Says:

    Brilliant! Hits so many truths. Thanks for creating this.

  24. Emma Says:

    My boss just showed me this today. So true it is both hilarious and painful! Had to reblog at http://archivistinprocess.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/why-you-shouldnt-become-an-archivist/

    Can’t wait to read more comics!

  25. Katrina Says:

    I just found this video. Hilarious. So true! I am going to have to reblog it for all my fellow students in grad school.

  26. It smells like vinegar. Yep. Yeeeeep. | Jiggery-pokery's Soup of the Day Says:

    […] Why You Shouldn’t Become an Archivist […]

  27. Padma Says:

    Why was this video taken down? Any links to it still around?

  28. Ashley Peterson Says:

    Now the link at the end of the post is dead too! Anywhere else I can find it?

    • Ashley Peterson Says:

      Please please please?! I’d even pay you for a copy! I love it so much and NEED to share it with my coworkers who are new to the profession.

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