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Library, Archive and Documentation Jobs

Regardless of whether case records have to be registered for future legal decisions, health-related data has to be available for medical research, a public audio database has to be established or war crimes have to be documented for posterity: Our modern, knowledge-based society generates huge amounts of data in almost all areas of public life that have to be registered, processed and categorized. Archivists, librarians and documentalists have made this their priority. They prepare and evaluate different media, manage and maintain them, and make them available for use by others.

However, not only do archives and libraries have to categorize their collections, but also other institutions like media companies, museums, churches or public authorities, which results in a great variety of possible fields of activity. The type of media to be managed also varies greatly and ranges from books, journals, manuscripts and files to electronic resources such as video and audio documents. Employers beyond typical knowledge or informational institutions hire archivists, documentalists or knowledge managers. A human resource agency could look for someone to organize all application documents and personal files or a car manufacturers could be looking to document its product history, etc. Depending on the field, the focus of possible positions varies between more administrative or more content-based work. In addition to the maintenance of collections, the work in archives and libraries also includes organizational or administrative tasks, the digitization of media, or research activities. In the context of digitalization, text and data mining procedures assisted by artificial intelligence for the automated evaluation and categorization of media are also gaining in importance, meaning that IT applications are now part of the basic know-how of the profession and many hybrid activities combining IT development and archiving are also emerging. Experience with data and content management systems is absoutely necessary in any case. Advising and supporting users of the respective facilities is another important aspect. Archivists (or librarians) provide the necessary media and are available to answer user questions. Furthermore, cooperating with external parties in order to collect more data and resources is another part of the occupation.

Further training or additional qualifications necessary for academic or research positions

There are several possibilities to start a career in this field after graduation – but in general, an additional qualification or further training is almost always necessary.
For example, after your studies, you can complete training as an archivist at the archive school in Marburg for higher or upper-level archival service. The training is provided by the training archives of the Federal and State Archives.
As an alternative, a postgraduate degree program in library, documentation or information sciences is also possible. Some universities and universities of applied sciences offer a suitable bachelor's or master's degree program, both full-time and part-time, with higher training fees being charged in some cases.
Another option for the beginning of a career in this field is to work as a scientific documentalist. The main task of scientific documentalists is to research and prepare scientific information and content and to organize it in databases. This qualification also requires a specialized university degree. In some cases, the same access requirements apply as in archive or library services, but volunteer work or traineeships are also frequently offered by prospective employers. The training usually takes two years and – in contrast to the (postgraduate) bachelor's and master's degree programs – you will be paid.

Fabian Fürste

Fabian Fürste

works in the “Online Services and IT Development” department in the University Library of the TU Berlin

Typical tasks

Possible places of employment

Sources and further information on the profession