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Who’s Talkin’ ’bout My Generation?! 2010/12/22

Posted by nydawg in Archives, Digital Archives, Education.
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my generation

Talkin' Bout Our Generation

Yesterday I received my new American Archivist
(v. 73,  no. 2, Fall/Winter 2010) from the SAA,
a truly remarkable 380 page  tome . . . I look forward to receiving it every year & makes SAA  membership a nice perk in exchange for a handy collection of 7  articles, 3 Case Studies, 12 reviews, and council minutes!  I will read & savor it for weeks.

Anyway, I read this remarkable article titled  “Career Satisfaction of Young Archivists: A Survey of Professional Working Archivists, Age 35 and Under”  by Amber L. Cushing which is flawed in two ways:

a) by only focusing on new and young archivists, their satisfaction  may not be relatable to many past jobs; and
b) survey results could be skewed by  45% academic library ratio.

It got me thinking about generational issues and the digital disconnect.  Specifically, the author is referring to the Under 35s as  Generation Y Archivists, and collecting and analyzing data submitted  by those working archivists to draw conclusions.  Ultimately the idea is that if Baby Boomers ever retire from their archivist jobs, they  will be replaced by Generation Y Archivists.  [Curiously, she threw out 198 of 485 surveys of archivists who claimed to be “over age 35”].

This all sounds good until you recognize that 35 years ago, from 2008,  was 1973, and those people are NOT Generation Y, they are GenX.  This  of course is assuming that

“Greatest Generation”  1900-1924
Silent Generation          1925-1945
Baby Boomers are        1945-1965
Gen X                                 1965-1985
Gen Y                               1977-2000 (?)

Here’s an old article, “The New Generation Gap”  from The Atlantic (Dec 1992) which had a
big impact on me when I first read it.  . . . before the Internet took  off.

“To solve social problems Boomers don’t look to technology and big  institutions (as did the GI peers of JFK and Nixon) or to expertise  and committees (as have the Silent peers of Michael Dukakis and James Baker). Rather, Boomers look to values — the redemptive if painful resurrection of what Michael Lerner, the editor of the progressive magazine Tikkun, calls a “Politics of Meaning.” Material abundance is not necessarily connected with such values, which is why even a severe recession could not dissuade the younger orators at the 1992 political conventions from talking less about GNP and housing starts than about moral standards and the state of America’s soul (much to the bewilderment of over-fifty columnists — and to the jeers of the under-thirty viewers of MTV’s Like We Care)..”

(Full Disclosure: I’m Gen X (i think!)
http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/92dec/9212genx.htm

I highly recommend you read the “Career Satisfaction” article I  mentioned above.  Join the SAA for immediate access.  In the meantime, the fact that the author can conclude that “Overall, young archivists are satisfied with their positions and with their professional associations” sounds flawed.

http://www2.archivists.org/american-archivist

dk
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