Tag Archives: Steve Ammidown

Year in the Life: Steve Ammidown, Pt. 8

One of the things I’m not sure we spend enough time thinking or talking about is what happens when we leave a position- whether it’s our first or our fiftieth. I suspect that it’s due to a burning desire to get onto the next thing and not let the door hit us on the way out.

Why is this particular subject on my mind, you ask? Well, it’s a situation near and dear to me at the moment as I’m preparing to move on myself. As of July 1, I’ll become the Manuscript and Outreach Archivist at the Browne Popular Culture Library at Bowling Green State University. While my nearly year and a half here at Gilman School has been great and rewarding, I’m really excited for this next chapter. But there are things to tend to first…

My goal over my last few weeks has been to enforce the first tenet of camping- try to leave your site better than you found it. Dan Savage fans will know this as “The Campsite Rule”. Though an archives isn’t a campsite or a relationship (Or is it? A topic for another day.), I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make this place better, and that should include what I pass on to my successor. Continue reading

Year in the Life: Steve Ammidown, Pt. 7

I want to talk about my perfect archivist moment.

As so often happens with these kind of stories, it was a rainy Monday. Friday and Saturday had been filled with the hustle and bustle of our Alumni Weekend leaving me with one day off, and I could feel the fatigue all over. But this wasn’t an ordinary Monday. Today I was set to meet with the 3rd graders that I’ve been working with all year, to give them their charge for the final piece of our collaboration- their very own donation to the archives. Continue reading

Year in the Life: Steve Ammidown, Pt. 6

Steve Ammidown is one of our participants in the Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position for a year. You can read his previous posts here.

Your Private School Needs an Archivist

The title of this month’s entry is a little specific, but bear with me. This month marks the end of my first year in this position, and that anniversary has me reflecting on the uniqueness and necessity of the job. From conversations with colleagues, I think a lot of this translates across institutions.

I’m looking at my work table, strewn with photographs that tell the history of our Upper School Library. This week marks the 105th anniversary of its initial dedication and we’re having a little celebration to mark the occasion.  The school building opened in 1910, but the library space was not finished until the following February.  The money for the furnishings and books in the library came from Elisabeth Gilman, daughter of our school’s namesake and notable Baltimorean in her own right. Notes from the dedication point out that Daniel Coit Gilman had been librarian at Yale College before becoming a world-renowned educator and first president of Johns Hopkins University, making the gift especially apt. The first librarian in the new building was Hamlet Stanley Philpot, a teacher of Latin and Greek with a colorful past. Continue reading

Year in the Life: Steve Ammidown, Pt. 5

Steve Ammidown is one of our participants in the Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position for a year. You can read his previous posts here.

Where do you even start?

Fair warning: this post involves more questions than answers, so please don’t go looking for a prescription here, because I haven’t got one!

One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced in this position is the overwhelming quantity of barely-organized material.  The archives here was founded by a former secretary to the headmaster, who had an astonishing amount of material, but organized in her own system. Subsequent decades saw the archives pass through the hands of our development and then library departments, staffed by a number of volunteers, parents, or staff with other responsibilities. Only in the past few years have there been professional staff in the archives, though I’m the only one who had previously worked with archives.

Behold all the Post-Its, and tremble!

Behold all the Post-Its, and tremble!

This turnover and constant flux inevitably lead to a number of half-attempts to organize and gain intellectual control over the materials. I can point to a number of small boxes (think recipe box size) of index cards as well as Past Perfect and CatDV backup files as evidence. Physical items- records, publications, memorabilia- have been put together, though not particularly organized.

The level of disorganization bothered me when I first arrived, without a doubt. But in the almost a year since, this is the first point in time I’ve really had to go back and consider it. I now totally get why there have been so many partial attempts at getting it all under control. There’s just no time. And as a one person shop, my time is far better spent learning the collections inside and out, in the state they’re in right now, so that I can quickly respond to all the various projects and emergencies that pop up during the course of a year. It’s an exhausting way to work, but it’s functional.

Of course, I’m an archivist, so that state of affairs just isn’t good enough. But I struggle with where to even start the process. I’ve decided that it will be best to start from scratch, using Archivesspace as my management system. I’m currently reading Dan Santamaria’s excellent “Extensible Processing for Archives and Special Collections”, which is giving me some focus on how to approach this whole mess. I nearly have a plan, of sorts.

But of course my next big event looms large at the end of April. And my boss wants to address our electronic records policies (as in, there are none). If I’ve learned nothing else in nearly a year in this position, it’s that this lone arranger gig is a real balancing act!

Year in the Life: Steve Ammidown, Pt. 4

Steve Ammidown is one of our participants in the Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position for a year. You can read his previous posts here.

Planning ahead (or trying to).

My first few months on the job consisted of a whirlwind of events and requests that pulled me every which way. The upside was that I quickly came to understand the state of my collections and what needed to be done in order to bring everything into line. So, three or four months in, I sat down with a stern face and made a “long-term priorities” list.

Priorities list

And then I sat back and started howling hysterically. I had taken five lines to essentially say “do archivist things”. My list was impossibly vague and naïve, and I realized I needed to dig in even more to figure out what exactly needed to be done.

And then came the fall, and I forgot all about priorities again. Continue reading

Year in the Life: Steve Ammidown, Pt. 3

Steve Ammidown is the newest participant in our Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position. We will be following Steve for a year. You can read his previous posts here.

The thing about having a long commute is that there’s plenty of time for car karaoke. I was in need of extra energy the other morning, so the stereo was up loud when “Shame on You” by the Indigo Girls came on. The first few lines of the song are:

My friends they wash the windows
and they shine in the sun
they tell me wake up early in the morning some time
see what a beautiful job you’ve done.

I say let’s put on some tunes
sing along to Doolittle all day
go down to the riverside, take off our shoes
and wash these sins away.

Continue reading

#snaprt Chat Flashback: Digital Special Collections and University Archives

Guest author: Ariadne Rehbein
MLS/MIS Student at Indiana University Bloomington and SNAP Roundtable Senior Social Media Chair

For the SNAP Roundtable Twitter chat on Sunday, October 25, 2015 we discussed challenges and opportunities surrounding born digital and digitized archival collections in the academic environment. Here is a summary of key points and a smattering of interesting tweets from the discussion. To learn further details, please check out the chat its entirety on Storify.

What tools and training are important in this line of work? What can students do to prepare themselves?

It was recommended that students gain awareness of common metadata and preservation standards and platforms such as Omeka, DSpace, and Fedora. Suggested resources included the COPTR registry of digital preservation tools and SAA’s Digital Archives Specialist courses. Continue reading

Year in the Life: Steve Ammidown, Pt. 2

Steve Ammidown is the newest participant in our Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position. We will be following Steve for a year. You can read his previous posts here.

“Why does the school have an archives?”

It’s a question that fills me with a combination of joy and dread. I love talking about what I’m working on- improving access to collections, uncovering stories, remembering those time has forgotten. But it’s also a reminder of how much work there is yet to do in reaching out to my stakeholders and the larger community.

A prep school archives is a fascinating mix of a corporate and academic archives.  Not unlike a corporate archives much of my work involves making our alumni remember their good feelings about the school, and that’s a lot of fun. Working with the alumni relations group, I’ve been doing a lot of social media outreach and designing in-house exhibits, especially around our big football rivalry that marks its 100th meeting in November. Good alumni relations benefit the school in a number of ways, but also significantly heighten the visibility of the archives in the eyes of those most in a position to support us. Continue reading

Year in the Life: Steve Ammidown, Pt. 1

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

img_1501-1Name: Steve Ammidown
Position: Archivist
Institution: Gilman School
Years at position: <1
Education: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (BA- Sociology, Certificate- Gender & Women’s Studies), University of Maryland, College Park (MLS- concentration in Archives, Information & Records Management)

I am the School Archivist at Gilman School in Baltimore, Maryland. Gilman was founded in 1897 as the Country Day School for Boys in Baltimore, and kicked off a nationwide craze for “day schools”. In fact my own high school, Providence Country Day School in East Providence, Rhode Island, was modeled on the Gilman approach. So while I didn’t set out to be a prep school archivist it’s not an unfamiliar setting for me, which I think gives me a unique perspective on the work I do. Continue reading

Tackling the SAA Poster Presentation

For this guest post, we asked two SNAP members to share about submitting posters for presentation at the SAA Annual Meeting. The SAA Student Program Subcommittee will accept submissions for individual and student chapter posters through February 2, 2015. Visit the official Subcommittee announcement to learn more about submitting proposals for student posters and papers for the 2015 Annual Meeting.

Continue reading