On October 17 and 18, I attended the Tri-State Archivists’ Conference, along with Rebecca, Craig and Tanya. It was a great opportunity for us to meet with other archivists and librarians from NC, SC and GA and hear about what they are working on. Making the experience even more enjoyable was the fact that the conference was hosted at Furman University, my alma mater. It is always wonderful to be back on campus and see how things have changed, or stayed the same.
As mentioned by my colleagues, Emily Gore’s opening talk was very interesting and thought-provoking for what might be possible for archives and libraries in the future. The Digital Public Library “The DPLA aims to expand this crucial realm of openly available materials, and make those riches more easily discovered and more widely usable and used…” This site can be especially helpful to archives and libraries that want to make their materials available online but may not be able to undertake such a large project on their own, as well as to institutions that experience a high demand for their collections. For more information, see the website for DPLA.
There were many sessions to choose from over the two days we were there, and I was able to get some good ideas for future projects that we can incorporate here at WFU. It was exciting to hear about all the good work being done around the region, and helpful to hear about other peoples’ lessons learned and recommendations.
Some topics and highlights included:
*Collaborative projects with professors and students
Katie Nash at Elon shared how she and their Coordinator of Access Services, Patrick Rudd, worked together to help introduce education majors to primary source research. They worked closely with the education professor as well to help develop the lesson plans, which the student teachers then implemented in their classrooms. Katie and Patrick then observed the student teachers teaching the lesson to their classes and could see if they (teachers and students) “got it” or not.
Kristen Merryman at NC State also worked closely with an education professor to create guides about using primary sources for student teachers. She headed up a 2-year grant project that had an educational outreach component in which they were to create 8 lesson plans for 8th grade teachers in NC. By working with the collection management staff, college of education faculty and graduate students, they could look at all aspects of the project and decide how best to present the information. Graduate students in the “Digital History in the Classroom” class spearheaded the efforts and the result was lesson plans that could be easily used by teachers and they could access all of the materials online.
Paula Jeanette Mangiafico from Duke told about the student interns they have and how they re-worked their internship guidelines to fit the strengths of the students, and to help the students actually learn how archives work and the principles behind them. Archives staff serve as mentors to the interns and include them in the day-to-day activities of the department (i.e. staff meetings, brainstorming sessions, etc.). They have had several interns go on to library school or into archives programs, and some who are now professors sent their students to the Duke archives for research since they know what the collection has to offer.
*Collaborating with the community to strengthen collections
Marleigh Chiles from USC discussed documenting survivors of Hurricane Katrina;those whose lives were spared but who were uprooted and forced to find a new home. The people who died were named and listed, and the institutions that were damaged or destroyed were shown on the news and noted. But those who were left behind to start over either there or somewhere else were rarely documented. Their oral history interviews helped fill in the gaps of the whole Katrina experience and made the collection more inclusive.
Andrea L’hommedieu and Jennifer Marshall talked about the importance of building a good relationship with the people you will interview, as well as the community in which you work. It is also important to honor the wishes of those you talk to. If they are reluctant to share criticisms of a topic or to share the full story, you can offer to seal the interview for a period of time which lets the person know that the information is important in the long run and not just right now. By embracing inclusive methods and having diversity in an archives, you can have a more complete representation of the community or institution you work in.
*Rethinking the way we process collections
Linda Sellers from NC State and Nancy Kaiser from UNC-Chapel Hill discussed how they had to revisit the ways they processed materials at their institutions in order to make collections available sooner, but also not leave out important information that helps researchers find what they need. They developed new work flows and many times do a more general processing job instead of the very detailed finding aids that had been done in years past. But, they also said that not one processing approach fits all, so they asses each collection and determine how to best process it.
There were several other very interesting sessions regarding preservation of born-digital materials, social media, and electronic records as well as how to make them accessible. Rebecca and I were happy to present about the Archives Week events and efforts of SNCA to help promote them, as well as our own Documenting Diversity event that we hosted last year to help make our archives more diverse and inclusive to reflect the full history of Wake Forest.
The conference was very worth-while and gave us a chance to connect to colleagues in other states. I would be happy to share more details with anyone if you have questions.