An archivist is an information professional similar to curators and librarians. Archivists identify, collect, organize, record, describe, preserve and display materials that are of historical value. Basically, an archivist's main duty is to present authentic and relevant slices of history in a cohesive way.
Archivists are knowledgeable in the time period and/or collection topic they archive. They research and source items to be sure the identification of all archival materials is clear. An archivist selects items that fit with an organization's collection. Archivists must keep detailed records of the people, places and dates involved in the chosen items to archive. These items may be handwritten notes, photographs, film or many other possible materials.
Descriptions of items they collect may be placed on company websites or other public locations, or they may be used in museums. An archivist usually writes most of these descriptions. He or she must carefully record and document all details of each archived item in a collection. Preservation is another responsibility of archivists. They're knowledgeable in methods of how to store both flat papers and three-dimensional materials.
An archivist must display collected items in a logical, informative manner. Some archivists assert that a collection of archival items should always tell a cohesive story about its subject and the specific time period. Archivists are required to take professional care in their work and exercise ethics as well as knowledgeable selection in choosing archival quality goods. Archivists are always searching to archive useful items and striving to choose historical materials carefully.
There are two main types of archived collections: circulating and non-circulating. Non-circulating collections may be archived within a certain company or organization. Circulating historical collections are displayed to the public, but are usually carefully preserved so they can't be touched directly. Archivists don't spend all of their work time archiving materials, but are also usually required to attend meetings and industry events regularly. An archivist often manages a staff to help him or her record and preserve historical documents.
Archivist duties can be compared to that of librarians in that both types of information professionals may collect, preserve and display materials for organized public or private access. Archivists and curators' job duties are also similar in that they both tend to work with many different shapes, sizes and categories of materials. However, archivists describe materials much differently than librarians; they also usually work with audio-visual formats with which curators typically don't.