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Subject: AIC certification plan

AIC certification plan

From: Harry Campbell <campbell.12<-a>
Date: Tuesday, December 16, 2008
It is becoming more obvious that there is not a strong and clear
mandate from members of AIC for certification, beyond what already
exists in the current membership categories.  There remains little
consensus about most aspects of the proposed new system, especially
the testing.  The fact is, while a written test may assess one's
theoretical knowledge and ability to write "a well-thought out
treatment proposal," it definitely would not be a means to
demonstrate one's actual conservation treatment skills, as both of
these have been touted as benefits of a new system.

A recent program graduate may conceivably do very well on such a
test, but if a museum curator or collector is looking  for a
seasoned expert with a good reputation in the field, and some years
of bench experience--both of which (ideally) are already more
accurately demonstrated by achievement of PA status--would it be
sensible for that employer to simply require certification? Probably
not.  Some have debated the wisdom of leveling the playing field
regarding equal opportunities for program graduates and "others"
(presumably, "others" being the ones disadvantaged).  In fact, there
may be the potential to make the field too level.  This is not to
say there is no place in the field for new conservators, but it may
(and should) take a few years before a conservator gains at least PA
level competence through experience.

Until recently, I was non-committal regarding certification,
although I have participated in the surveys.  I didn't see the need
for it, and had been waiting for some argument that would convince
me, one way or the other.  Now, looking back, I realize the reason
this process has dragged on so long is that so few feel
certification is necessary.  I think if it had been a priority,
members would have jumped on board and made (or let) it happen. Now,
I think it's time to accept the fact that wide-spread lack of
support is the best argument against the proposed certification
system.  I have nothing against certification, per se, but I think
the organization should look within its current manifestation for
the ingredients to implement a new system, if indeed there is some
benefit to be gained.

If the AIC is set on certification, why not listen to those who have
suggested instead alterations of the current membership procedures?
For instance, it is logical that the PA designation, with some
possible slight alterations, could become the Certified Professional
Associate or Member (or Certified Professional Conservator).  Any
procedural changes would take some doing, but why go on with the
expensive, time-consuming, and divisive effort to create something
that so few desire?  I hope that the CITF is not too frustrated by
the recently revived debate, and know that what they have done has
not been in vain--especially if the organization finds it desirable
for the task force to re-focus on the existing organizational
framework to fashion a credible system that achieves essentially the
same thing, with greater support from (and for) the membership.

Harry Campbell
Conservator (PA)
Ohio State University Libraries
600 Ackerman Rd.
Columbus, OH 43202
614-292-9690


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                  Conservation DistList Instance 22:37
                 Distributed: Friday, December 19, 2008
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Received on Tuesday, 16 December, 2008

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