Welcome Adriana Flores, our newest participant in the Year in the Life Series! We will be following Adriana for the next twelve months.
Name: Adriana Flores
Position: Assistant Archivist for Acquisitions
Institution: Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University
Years at position: 1+
Education: University of Puget Sound (BA-English); Simmons College (MLIS with a concentration in Archives Management)
My path towards becoming a professional archivist started as a college sophomore at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. After expressing interest in library science, the director of the library gave me a job in the Archives and Special Collections department. After working there for three years, my love of libraries and archives was solidified and I was set on going to graduate school. After graduation I moved on to multiple digitization and records management internships around Washington state, including one at Densho.
After taking a year off from school, I moved across the country to get my MLIS at Simmons College. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of ARL/SAA’s Mosaic Fellows, which placed me at a local institution for a year-long internship. I was extremely excited to be placed at Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, but I had no idea that a year-long internship would become the foundation of my early career.
The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center (HGARC) was started in 1963 as Special Collections and then renamed in 2003 after the founder. The center is comprised of five main collections: Historical, Contemporary, Nursing Archives, Rare Books, and our Boston University Archives. With a staff of 17 full-time employees, and numerous student employees, volunteers, and interns, the office is constantly buzzing with activity.
When I first started I was pretty intimidated by the size of HGARC; it was by far the largest archive I’d ever worked at. However, I had wonderful supervisors who fostered my professional growth and made me feel like a part of the office. During my internship I got to work on some amazing projects; I worked on quality control for our digitized Julius and Ethel Rosenberg letters, processed original artwork by cartoonist Ed Sorel, processed correspondence to and from the noted Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, and even put together a discovery seminar on our cartoon and comic art collections for Boston University students.
By a stroke of good luck, and good timing, one of HGARC’s full-time archivists was leaving her position near the end of my internship. With her position vacant, my supervisor and one other employee were promoted, leaving an entry-level archival staff position open. Although I was not yet finished with my master’s degree, my supervisor encouraged me to apply and advocated for me to get the position. Due to my experiences as an intern and the relationships I had formed in the office, I was hired in May 2015 and able to hit the ground running.
In my position as Assistant Archivist for Acquisitions, I wear a lot of different hats. One part of my job is to facilitate the transfer of archival materials to our office. Often, this means I talk with our donors over the phone to coordinate shipments, answer any shipping questions they have, and help the Archivist for Acquisitions when large shipments of boxes arrive at our office. Sometimes we even travel to personally transport materials to our office.
One thing that was unique about our founder, Howard Gotlieb, was that he liked to approach donors early on in their career to see if they’d be interested in depositing their life’s work at our repository. Since most donors are contacted long before their careers and lives are over, they’ll send our office numerous shipments that will accumulate to create their archival collection. That being said, our acquisitions department is very busy. We receive shipments almost every day ranging in size from an envelope to a sixty-box shipment. It’s once the materials arrive at HGARC that our department can really get working.
My coworker Jane, the Archivist for Acquisitions, and I supervise about 12-15 undergraduate student workers a semester who help us process our collections. They are a great group of students and one of my favorite parts of the job is getting to know all of them. Together, we process collection shipments as they arrive, describe them, and shelve them in our vaults. Supervising this many undergraduate students can often get hectic, but they are amazingly hard workers and I love working with them.
In addition to coordinating shipments and processing materials, I also get to do some reference and outreach. All archivists in our office work with researchers, so I am assigned usually two to five researchers a week, sometimes more or less more depending on demand. We have researchers visit us from all of the world, as well as BU students working on assignments, and it is great to personally help others use the materials that I process. In terms of outreach, our office hosts student discovery seminars, classroom sessions, exhibits, and co-hosted lecture series and I’ve had the opportunity to work on many of these events.
If you couldn’t tell, our office is a highly collaborative one, with everyone pitching in and supporting each other when need be. It has been an amazing place for me to grow as a professional because I have had so many opportunities to expand my responsibilities and learn new skills.
I am so excited to be writing for SNAP’s A Year In The Life blog series this year! I hope you enjoy reading my posts and I’m looking forward to sharing some fun stories and lessons learned from my experiences as an early professional.