This post is part of the Student Experience series, which features current and former archives students as they reflect on graduate school, internships, and early career issues. If you would like to contribute a post for this series, please email me.
Guest poster Irina Sandler, Simmons College student and archivist at the Baker Library of Harvard Business School as well as the Cambridge Historical Society, discusses her experience as a first time presenter at the New England Archivists Spring 2017 meeting.
There is almost nothing as nerve-wracking as public speaking.
I had the pleasure of attending the recent Personal Digital Archiving conference, held this year at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from May 12 to May 14. As I was considering a venue to present on a project that I’ve been involved with, the IMLS-funded Learning from Artists’ Archives program at UNC, PDA 2016 seemed like a great fit. I wanted to talk about how the artists’ archives project has helped artists to create and sustain their own personal archives, specifically through a series of workshops where local North Carolina artists have been able to gain necessary skills for tackling both analog and digital archiving projects. As the focus of the artists’ archives project has been to help artists with archiving at the personal level, the PDA conference seemed to me a fantastic opportunity to both share the successes and challenges of our project, as well as to learn about other exciting personal archiving efforts taking place across the country.
As I dug in for the first day, looking over the program of sessions, I quickly realized that the PDA conference is unique in many ways. The conference brought together an eclectic mix of information professionals from a variety of institutions, academics and graduate students with diverse research interests, businesses and tech companies developing digital archiving tools, and (perhaps most importantly) individuals and community organizations hard at work sustaining vital archiving projects. Despite the broad mix of participants, the total number of attendees was not overwhelming, filling a single, smallish lecture hall. Between sessions and during breaks, participants engaged in friendly dialogue, quick to spark a conversation with a presenter to learn more about their research or project. This congenial atmosphere pervaded the conference, generating a collaborative environment with professionals, academics, developers, and citizen archivists alike exchanging ideas and learning from each others’ experiences. Continue reading
The Society of California Archivists Annual General Meeting (#SCA16) was held in Santa Rosa, California from April 7 to 9, 2016. I attended on Friday, April 8th.
Dr. Michelle Jolly, a history professor from Sonoma State University, gave the plenary address on Friday morning. Dr. Jolly discussed her own recent experiences with primary sources and her struggle getting her students to use and understand them. Part of the problem is standardized testing- teachers are teaching to ensure that students are prepared to pass these exams, but at the cost of cutting out other kinds of learning and the development of creative and critical thinking skills. Faced with an ambiguous assignment and resources, and no one right answer, today’s undergraduate and even masters students feel overwhelmed and anxious, sometimes flat out refusing to participate.
Therefore it is important that teachers, professors, and archivists collaborate to share skills and experience in order to teach students the skills they need to use primary sources. Dr. Jolly discussed workshops she participated in with K-12 teachers and ideas for activities and assignments that introduce students to primary sources effectively. Members of the audience shared similar programs other universities are implementing to overcome this challenge, and Dr. Jolly asked that the lines of communication are improved between the different professions and universities so that we may build on each others’ successes. Continue reading
Over the past few weeks, Kate has been taking us through her career path and sharing advice on things that worked well for her – and things she wished she had done, but didn’t. In this final segment, Kate talks about moving from a project position to one with faculty status. If you missed any of the previous posts, they can be found here.
Guest author: Kate Crowe
Curator of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Denver
Getting and Keeping a Faculty Status Librarian Position (Part IV)
About a year into my contract position, I was informed that the library was creating a new position to focus specifically on metadata, cataloging, and physical processing for Special Collections and Archives, and that I would be appointed into the position as Interim Archives Processing Librarian. In retrospect, this meant a couple of things that I absolutely didn’t recognize as significant at the time. First, I was being moved not just from a non-benefitted, contract (albeit one that was professional/required a masters’ degree) position into a benefitted position, I was being appointed into a (interim, non-tenure track) faculty position, which required me to focus on research (publications, presentations) and service (being active in/serving in leadership roles in the library, University, and my profession) in addition to my primary job responsibilities.
While this was all explained to me in terms of “what” was happening, no one really went into any detail as to “how” I was to be expected to fit these additional responsibilities into what was a brand new position with responsibility for spearheading several entirely new initiatives, including populating a new consortial digital repository; creating standards for archival metadata creation and physical arrangement where they had been previously sparse or non-existent; developing a sustainable, systematic infrastructure for archival technical services at the institution; hiring; training; and supervising one staff member and several graduate student employees – basically, running a small unit. Since that initial faculty position, the library has gone through a re-organization and, as of July 2012, I’ve become the Curator of Special Collections and Archives, which is the position I’ve wanted since I was 18. I’ve been very lucky, but I also worked hard for these opportunities. I’ve also screwed up a lot. You will, too. Another good piece of fatherly advice I received was, “Screw up as much as possible as early on as possible” – not, of course, meaning that you should be a literal screw-up, but that if you try and fail within a lower-status position, the stakes are much lower and you’ll learn a lot of great lessons in the process without causing nearly as much damage to you or your organization. Continue reading