Report on the first North East meeting
Thanks to Rebecca for the following write-up. It sounds like it was a good discussion!
For the first meeting of the North East group we considered the article ‘The employment of people with disabilities as archivists, records managers, conservators and assistants’ and noted that it was out of date with regards to changes in the law and was written at a time when there was more emphasis on the intellectual arrangement of collections.
The discussion tended to focus on the working environment and the experiences of those who attended rather than the article per se – which was used as a starting point. There was a positive example with a volunteer, who used a wheelchair. Those working in the archive had had to adapt to fit their needs and had carried out risk assessments and evacuation plans, which would be of benefit in the future. Issues considered to be particularly challenging with regards to those with disabilities were the physical nature and user focus of working in record-keeping.
The discussion also explored the potential implications of the fact that finding work now usually means having to move to fulfill short term contracts and the extent to which this might particularly affect people with disabilities. Equally though, there was talk of the possibility for more flexible working within the field, given the growing digital element, and what this might mean, particularly in respect of the possibly adverse effects on the social side of working, as discussed in the article.
We ended our meeting by considering that the archival and record keeping profession seems quite a vocal, self aware and reflective community with the ability to share experiences and seek advice to support those employed within the profession with a disability.