Year in the Life: Elizabeth Shulman, Pt. 1

Welcome Elizabeth, our newest participant in the Year in the Life Series! We will be following Elizabeth for the next twelve months.

Elizabeth Shulman
North Carolina Collection Librarian
Institution: Durham County Library
Years at position: <1
Education: Rice University (BA-History); University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (MSLS with concentration in Archives and Records Management)


Hello y’all, my name is Elizabeth Shulman and I am the new North Carolina Collection Librarian at Durham County Library. Since I was recently prompted to change my county password, I have been here for about 3 months. When I started library school, I never imagined that I would be working in an archive in a public library. I did not consider it an option until I heard a public library archivist from Charleston, SC give a talk about outreach with K-12 children at the Society of North Carolina Archivists. The events and collaboration between the librarians and the archivist seemed really interesting to me and as a result, I applied for a job with the Durham County Library.

My job has been a bit exciting as of late. The North Carolina Collection is located in the Main Branch in downtown Durham and thanks to an overwhelmingly positive vote by the citizens of Durham County, we have received a bond to renovate the Main Branch. Since the building will be torn down to its frame, the North Carolina Collection will be relocating to a space in a local mall. We have been closed to the public since after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, preparing to move out of this building. I have been preparing books and archival collections for going into storage, packing up boxes of microfilm, and placing every item that is going with us to the mall in a box. Every day has been a workout as of late.

When I am not working my hot archivist body, I wear many hats in the North Carolina Collection. As my supervisor retired two weeks into me starting my job, I have been the only full-time employee basically since I started this position. When we are open to the public, I spend the majority of my time on the reference desk. I supervise patrons in the room, respond to reference requests, and answer the phone. I do get some time off of the desk where I process collections. I have mostly worked on additions to collections but will start working on new collections once we are settled at Northgate Mall. Since the goal of my institution is to preserve the history of the city and county of Durham, I spend time educating myself on the history of Durham County. It is wonderful city and I am so excited that I get to help preserve its history.

I originally hail from Rochester, NY but have lived in interesting place such as Houston, New York City, and Montana in addition to Chapel Hill and Durham during my adult life. I have worked part-time in archival capacities for New York Public Library, the New-York Historical Society, and Yellowstone National Park. When I am not working in the archives, I spend my time playing board games, listening to music, and obsessively cheering for my beloved New York Mets.

I am excited to be writing for SNAP’s Year in the Life blog series. It will be exciting to see what the next year holds in store for me. Will I get a new supervisor? Will this be the adventures of Elizabeth Shulman: Mall Archivist? I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride with me and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.


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