to raise our profile in our professional context, but also more widely in
We all were once irritated by confused and incoherent job descriptions classing
our profession as those that we used to call "professions sisters"
(documentation, libraries) or associating a lowly status or position in the
hierarchy to responsibilities out of proportion. The competency models of
our organizations are often not adapted and we are penalized in a number
of situations: seeking a new job corresponding to our diploma, managing our
career, or evaluating our team, if we are in the position of a manager. Without
dwelling at length on the causes of this situation, I would like to stress those
reasons which were taken into account by the working group. In the first place
comes the lack of appreciation of the professionals and of archival principles by
the common run of people, which could be a paradox for a profession endowed
with such an awareness of its specificity.
The diversity of working environments is another element of explanation. Hans
made a difference between what he called "the industrial professional", who is
characterized by his knowledge, and the professional in the information society,
characterized by his behaviour and skills: he is communicative, flexible, and
able to work in a team. The evolution of the organizations management and
administration and therefore of the process of records creation leads to the
development of heterogeneous services. This disparity is first of all that of the
employers: the public function, representing most certainly a majority, is by itself
multiple and complex, as the private sector from associations to multinational
companies. The disparity is also about how the employers consider the position
of archives: even in structures which can be compared from a legal point of
view, they may be keener on such-and-such aspect of the profession (cultural,
legal, financial, logistical, managerial, informational, etc.), preference which
is materialized by the position of archives in the organization structure. That is
the situation: we can hardly establish a dialogue with our partners from human
resources or training institutions. But who else than we, the professionals, are
able to design the right and precise job profile for an archivist? The competency
model is a tool for communication and a concrete mean of promoting the
profession. It will help the employers - and a larger public -, to better understand
who we are.
How should these competencies be categorised? What methodology should be
developed? How should a reference model be used? An ad hoc working group
would set out a guide to the development of these processes along with relevant
At the same moment, the training center of the French Association, whose
manager I was, launched a major project aiming to develop a competency model
for French professionals. The first step had been achieved in the form of a case
study, which was a model developed by the section of business records and
archives.4 Initiatives in this field were being developed in other parts of the world.
It was time to develop a global reflection bringing together existing experiences
and best practices.
CHRISTINE MARTINEZ WHEN CHRISTINE MEETS HANS OR AM I A COMPETENT ARCHIVIST?
4 Available on the website of the French association, at www.archivistes.org.