RBMS 2020
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RBMS thanks Jonathan A Hill, Bookseller for sponsoring this Sched.
Thursday, June 25 • 11:00am - 12:30pm
On the Preservation of Ephemeral Staff: Impacts of the Gig Economy in Special Collections

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In today’s “Gig Economy,” college-educated Americans are forced to piece together part-time, freelance, and ad-hoc ‘gigs’ to make a living. The Gig Economy flourished in tandem with the financial crisis of the late-2000s, and has since become the norm for skilled and post-graduate labor.

In the special collections and archival sector, as institutions increasingly rely upon grants, one-time funds, and contracts to deliver human resources, professional opportunities are available as temporary, project-based, or term-limited “gigs.” This environment encourages turnover and stunts relationships with collections, researchers, and donors. It necessitates moonlighting and causes stress around personal matters, such as scheduling and healthcare. But it also forces us to be nimble and gain a variety of experience.

What does the Gig Economy mean for our collections and community members? This seminar will critically evaluate how the Gig Economy affects materials, research, institutions, individual staff, and the profession as a whole. Hiring and project managers will learn about the spectrum of ramifications when modeling a position as a “gig.” Meanwhile, applicants and learners will learn when to utilize, and when to avoid, the Gig Economy for professional growth.

Overall, attendees will gain perspective on the ways the Gig Economy both hinders and stimulates special collections, and leave prepared to advocate for labor issues in the RBMS community.


Lori Birrell

Associate Dean for Special Collections, University of Arkansas

avatar for Courtney Dean

Courtney Dean

Head, Center for Primary Research and Training, UCLA Library Special Collections
avatar for Allison Jai O’Dell

Allison Jai O’Dell

Data and Analytics Engineer, The Humane League
After a decade in libraries, working primarily with special collections metadata, Allison transitioned to the nonprofit sector, holding recent positions as a backend web developer and data engineer. It's basically the same skill-set and work -- only now she's saving animals instead... Read More →

Tamar Evangelestia-Dougherty

Associate University Librarian, Cornell University

Kim Schwenk

Librarian, Lux Mentis Booksellers
avatar for Katharine Chandler

Katharine Chandler

Cataloger, Library of Congress
I'm a rare books librarian, curator, and cataloger with particular interests in Burgundian/Flemish manuscript culture of the 15th century; books written and published during the Reformation and Counter Reformation in Europe; books written and made by religious immigrants to the mid-Atlantic... Read More →

Thursday June 25, 2020 11:00am - 12:30pm
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