n.an individual who is the only staff member or the only formally trained archivist working in an archivesMcFarland 2007, 138A solo archivist may be either an archivist who works completely alone or an archivist assisted only by paraprofessional staff.Dunning 2007Although I am a solo archivist, I do work with a team of volunteers and interns. I have been able to set the vision for this archive; there is a great sense of personal accomplishment when achieving something on one’s own. The downside of being a solo-archivist [sic] is not having someone in my institution to consult with on questions and issues specific to the profession. I have to make contacts at other libraries and museums, attend workshops, and participate in professional societies.Passehl 2012, 1Common themes running through the book that embody characteristics crucial to the success of solo archivists include: time management, policy creation, collection management, basic essential programs, collaboration, fostering good relationships, and being a strong advocate for the archives.Murphree 2018, 35Managing the complex nature of a solo archivist’s position requires setting priorities and then adopting a flexible position within that framework that allows them to manage the various tasks and problems that present themselves to the lone arranger on a daily basis.UNK Archives 2019A few of our #workspace areas. We have...a few...projects in progress, thus the chaos. Ok, fine. That MAY be the default setting. Perils of the solo archivist. The second is part of our digitization lab, open to the community and used by my student worker. #Archive30Note 2020The responsibilities of archivists are immense in large institutions, let alone smaller organizations where resources are limited and employees are few. What is a solo archivist—also known as a lone arranger—to do? One place to start is becoming familiar with the fundamental principles and terminology of archives and records management.Preston 2020, 11A solo archivist may understandably struggle to split their time between appraisal, accessioning, description, processing, arrangement, outreach, and finally reference.Bitter 2020, 467–468The archival profession includes an abundance of solo archivists who are independently responsible for the archives of institutions with limited or even no staff. It is imperative for archivists to have a broad skillset that encompasses all aspects of archival management. Without an in-depth knowledge of how to implement an effective advocacy program, solo archivists can flounder, missing opportunities to bolster their programs with staffing, grants, and effective public programming while watching funding wither away due to a lack of interest and knowledge about what their archives offer to the community.Coddington 2022, 8Any extended project can feel like an overcommitment for a solo archivist, but careful planning and flexibility can help a large project bear fruit.
Although the term as originally intended suggests that the solo archivist is the only person working in an archives, the term is also used to refer to the only formally trained archivist in an archives that includes nonarchivists, often part-timers, as staff or volunteers.