Archives and Preservation


Management, Digitization and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records (Archival Studies and Records Management) — MLIS Career Pathway

Archivists  and Record Managers are information professionals who manage, preserve and provide access to physical materials and digital media that is created in the present and inherited from the past.

They are responsible for ensuring the reliability and authenticity of electronic records from creation through disposition to preservation. Increasingly, archivists and records managers are involved with the digitization and management of records and cultural heritage collections for the purposes of long-term preservation and online access. In the digital environment, the roles of the archivist and the records manager are overlapping. Traditionally, records managers are involved with current records being used in their active phase and archivists are stewards of inactive records that have been designated as having historical value and transferred to an archival repository. 

Archivists and Record Managers work with records in different formats: textual records in print and digital format, physical photographs and digital images, video and sound recordings, maps, 3-D objects, and increasingly born-digital interactive media, such as virtual worlds and social media, digital games/software, and generative-AI works. 

Archivists and Record Managers navigate the ethical implications and legal frameworks that apply to managing, preserving and providing access to documentary evidence of people, places, events and actions

See also: Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL): Competencies for Special Collections Professionals (2017) and Society of American Archives: Curriculum (2018).


Students interested in a career in this field have two degree choices at the SJSU School of Information:

  • Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS)
  • Masters in Archives and Records Administration (MARA)

The MLIS degree is American Library Association (ALA) accredited. If you want to work with archives and records within a library environment then the MLIS degree should be the choice.

The MARA degree is more heavily focused towards records. New opportunities exist in government and industry for highly skilled professionals who understand copyright law, patent protection and the critical nature of electronic records in preserving corporate memory and legal rights.

Employment Opportunities

Students who concentrate in this field may work as:

  • Archivists
  • Digital Archivists
  • Digital Asset Managers
  • Digital Preservation Specialists
  • Digital Projects Specialists
  • Electronic Records Managers
  • Information Governance Manager/Analyst
  • Managers, Information and Archival Services
  • Manuscript Curators
  • Open Government and Public Records Managers
  • Records and Information Managers
  • Special Collections Archivists

MLIS Skills at Work

The MLIS Skills at Work includes important trends and data that are needed to prepare for career advancement within the information professions. The following information within the report relates directly to the Archives, Preservation and Cultural Heritage career path. However, slides #14, #15, #16, and #17 showcase/highlight the skills most valuable to employers.

  • See the MLIS Skills at Work report, slides #5 through #11 for more detailed information about hiring trends and slide #22 for representative job titles
  • See slides #25 and #38 to view sample job titles, job duties, job skills, and technology/standards for archives and preservation, including museums and cultural heritage organizations
  • See also slides #27 (Collection, Acquisition and Circulation), #26 (Cataloging and Metadata), #34 (Reference and Research), and #33 (Outreach, Programming and Instruction) for additional roles within this career pathway

Core Theory and Knowledge

  • Cultural heritage and its political, economic, technological, social and cultural implications
  • How to identify the main stakeholders and their roles
  • Archival theory and practice, including basic knowledge of archival appraisal, processing, reference, and outreach
  • The principles, processes and standards guiding the digitization of cultural heritage materials
  • The nature of digital information, its main features, and transformations of information in the digital environment
  • How to collect and curate new digital media in libraries and other cultural repositories
  • How to define, identify, control, manage, and preserve electronic records
  • How to capture, manage, and preserve records created using emerging technology and residing in the clouds

MLIS Requirements

[Students in MARA have required courses - see: MARA Required Courses]

The MLIS program requires 43 units for graduation. Within those units, six courses (16 units) are required of all MLIS students and must be taken as part of all career pathways: INFO 203, INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204, INFO 285, and either INFO 289 or INFO 299. Beyond those six courses, a student is free to select electives reflecting individual interests and aspirations. 

If you are interested in this career pathway, you may choose to select from the foundation or recommended course electives listed below. Foundation courses form the foundational knowledge and skills for this pathway. If you can only select a few electives, then choose from the foundation courses. See also the recommended courses in the Areas of Emphasis section below.

The career pathway described here is provided solely for advising purposes. No special designation appears on your transcript or diploma. All graduating students receive an MLIS degree.

Recommended Coursework

MLIS Required Courses

MLIS Foundation Courses

Effective leadership and management (of people and information) is critically important for all types of work environments and clients. We recommend that students also consider selecting courses from the Leadership and Management career path to complement or supplement core skills in other areas.

Areas of Emphasis within the Management, Digitization and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records Pathway

While all students earn an MLIS degree from the iSchool (no special designation appears on academic transcripts or diplomas), students may include Area of Emphasis information about their skill sets on resumes and in cover letters. The iSchool faculty (with input from the Management, Digitization, and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records Program Advisory Committee) developed the recommended courses below for these Areas of Emphasis.

Records and Governance

Increasingly archivists and records managers are involved with the digitization and digital management of our records and cultural heritage to make documents and materials accessible online. In our digital environment, the role of the archivist and the records manager is becoming one. Record keeping is a continuum from creation through disposition, which includes both records management and archives.

Archives & Preservation

Archivists address the ethical implications of capturing, preserving and making available materials transferred to the archives. Archivists and records managers work with materials in many formats: traditional handwritten and printed documents, photographs, video and tape recordings, computer disks and tapes, maps, three-dimensional objects, and “born digital” information.

Records Arrangement, Description, and Access

Archivists and records managers need to understand the basic principles, concepts, and tools that are used to establish both physical and intellectual control over archival records.

Special session MLIS students may wish to consider taking courses from the MARA degree program to transfer to their MLIS degree. Important: MARA is only offered in special session and is only available to special session students. Visit the MARA courses.


Faculty pathway advisors are available to help guide you and answer questions about planning a career in their area of expertise.

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