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The Original Order of Things:

An AAO Monthly Newsletter

November 2021, Volume 1, Issue 1

Student/New Professional Spotlight:

Joseph Iyengar

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

    I am a queer settler of mixed Tamil and Slovak ethnicity, who was born, grew up, and currently lives in Toronto on the traditional lands of the Anishinaabeg, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat. I hold an Honours Bachelor of Arts in History and Archaeology from Wilfrid Laurier University (2019) and a Master of Information in Archives and Records Management from the University of Toronto (2021). In terms of employment, I most recently served as Student Assistant Archivist with McMaster University Health Sciences Archives. I am now eager to begin my career in the archival profession. In my spare time, I enjoy cycling, jogging, growing herbs, selling used items online, and watching monster truck competitions.

    2. Why did you choose to pursue a career in the archival profession?

    Since Grade 10 Career Studies, the archival profession has presented itself  as one in which I would find success, fulfillment, and enjoyment. Given my introverted and studious personality, I perform best on individual and small-group tasks that require close attention to rules and details. I am strong in the areas of research and investigation to solve problems and answer questions. I also have strong organizational skills, preferring order and understanding to chaos, and I am able to develop functional patterns and systems. Finally, since childhood, I have had a strong interest in Canada’s past and a desire to deepen and broaden my own and others’ understanding of that past.

    3. When and why did you first join the AAO?

    I first joined the AAO in April 2018, at the end of my third year at Laurier. During that year, I had volunteered weekly at the Mennonite Archives of Ontario as a means of gaining some preliminary experience in and exposure to archival work. To gain more  exposure to the archival profession, my mother suggested I seek out and join a professional association. I decided that I would begin at the provincial level. In a fortunate coincidence, the annual AAO conference was taking place the next month at Laurier and neighbouring University of Waterloo, so I decided to attend. Given the lack of in-person conferences over the past couple of years, I am especially glad now that I did that.

    4. What aspect of archival work interests you the most?

    I am most interested in making archival records  accessible to users. Acquiring and preserving records is not worthwhile if the records cannot be found or used to further our understanding of the past. Making records accessible requires a combination of processing, reference, and outreach work. My experience so far has consisted primarily of processing work, including appraisal, arrangement, description, and digitization. Going forward, I would like to interact directly with users in-person and electronically and reach out to potential users through social media  and exhibitions. 

    5. What do you think is the most pressing issue facing archivists today? 

    During my first year at U of T, I conducted several informational interviews with archivists working in Toronto. Based on these interviews and my work with McMaster, a pressing issue facing archivists today appears to be a significant lack of human resources. Organizations seem unwilling to invest in hiring more archival employees than the bare minimum needed to keep their archives operational. As a result, archivists are faced with huge backlogs of unprocessed records that remain inaccessible to users and are possibly in a precarious state of preservation. I am fairly certain that the pandemic has further exacerbated this issue. Archivists will need to continue the challenging task of advocating for the value of archives to those with power in their organizations. 

    The Archives Association of Ontario (AAO) is led by a committed community of volunteers from across the province. 

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