Professional Development

Author Archive

Vicki at Tri-State Archivists’ Conference 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:27 pm

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.




SAA, once more

Friday, August 30, 2013 5:12 pm

I too, was glad to attend the Society of American Archivists’ annual conference in New Orleans this year. As Craig, Rebecca and Tanya have already mentioned, it was a very informative and useful conference that touched on many pertinent topics that we deal with in archives on a daily basis. As always, it was helpful to hear about experiences from other institutions that let us know we are not the only place that has challenges with our collections, space, and resources. We also heard how other places have dealt with their challenges, giving us good ideas to bring back home and try.

New Orleans at night

New Orleans at night



Sessions that were particularly useful included:

*The Process of Processing

Presenters shared stories of how they dealt with huge backlogs of collections that had not been processed, or even accessioned in some cases. Jill Sweetapple of the Dekalb History Center told of club minutes that were held together with wooden clothes pins (with the year written on the pin in black ink, of course)! There were also labels falling off of folders, rusted paper clips, etc. which made it difficult and embarrassing to show researchers. Her advice was that even if your backlog it big, just start somewhere and make the materials useable. Don’t worry about detailed descriptions when a container list will work and let the researcher know what’s there. Christine de Catanzaro from Georgia Tech shared how they incorporate student workers and interns into their large projects lasting usually for at least a full semester. Betsy Pittman from UCONN discussed how 30-40% of their collection was in backlog when she arrived in the 1990’s, and that student processing was NOT working for them. Once students were fully trained, the graduated or left that job. So they reworked their workflow for students to do rehousing of materials and basic inventories of collections, but not detailed processing. Now more collections are accessible to researchers. Sarah Cunningham from the LBJ Library echoed similar themes, saying that you need to have a plan of attack for backlogs, and that it’s ok to challenge past practices that may not work now. Investing time and funds for staffing is important so that the collection can be properly maintained, and flexibility is necessary when deciding how to develop workflows. Striving for perfection only slows down the process, so focus on doing it well butdon’t get bogged down on details that aren’t important.

*Accessions Confessions

This lightning round featured archivists from multiple places including Yale, the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, UCLA, Rockefeller Archives Center and others, who shared how they work with unprocessed and minimally processed accessions (new materials) and additions to existing collections. Most agreed that they do minimal processing and description, so they can gain physical control of what they have. Several places create a MARC records upon accessioning and at least can have the catalog record available online then. Many times, the accessioning IS the processing, so the person accessioning the materials will give a bit more detail in the description and that will serve as the finding aid. Box and folder lists are also used as finding aids, so that researchers can at least see what topics are included in a collection. One presenter said “action trumps anxiety”, so just jump in and see how things go with the “golden minimum” of accessioning.

*Digital Data Preservation for Small and Mid-Size Institutions

Speakers shared how they began developing a digital preservation plan and how it became a consortial effort. Several schools in Illinois created the POWRR consortium and told about how they started the project. They emphasized that it cannot be done by just one person, you must have a team. Collaboration means more stakeholders and more interest because of involvement. Constant education of faculty and administrators is important, so that they understand why we are trying to preserve digital materials. The speaker from Illinois Wesleyan reminds them of the great campus server crash several years ago when huge amounts of data were lost across the school, and people are then more willing to listen and consider participating. The speaker from Northern Illinois emphasized that it was tempting to just find a program or tool and grab it to start, but that buy-in and good information are more important at the start. Once the foundation is there, then you can look at the tools and find the best fit. Both speakers said that it is important to just begin somewhere and to “embrace good enough”, because there is no perfect plan or system. Something is better than nothing.


If anyone would like to talk about any of these topics, please feel free to stop by. I’ll be glad to share more details!

Fleur de Lys

Fleur de Lys





Vicki at ALABI Conference

Tuesday, June 4, 2013 2:54 pm

From May 22-24th, I attended the annual conference of ALABI in Richmond, VA. (In case you’re wondering, ALABI stands for Association of Librarians and Archivists at Baptist Institutions). This was my first time taking part in this conference, and it was very well organized and informative. The theme was “From Church to Battlefield and Everywhere in Between: Documenting the Civil War in Baptist Libraries and Archives“. Sessions ran all day, and looked at a variety of topics in our different collections. Here are some of the presentation titles to give an idea of what we learned about:

*Grace and Glory: Documenting and African American Baptist Identity after the Civil War

*War Comes to the Churches: The Civil War as Documented in Baptist Records

*War Comes to the Home Front: The Civil War as Documented in Special Collections Materials

*Citizens, Saints, and Soldiers: Strategies for Researching Baptists and the Civil War (A shout out given for the Biblical Recorder digitization in this presentation! Woo Hoo! )

*Digitizing Dixie: Strategies for Placing Baptist Civil War Collections Online

I was happy to be part of the “Digitizing Dixie” session, along with the Assistant Archivist from Mercer University and the Director of Special Collections at Baylor University. We all described the Civil War materials that we had digitized from our collections, along with why we chose them, how we “made it happen” and the challenges and benefits of the projects. You can see examples of their work here: Mercer Special Collections and Baylor Special Collections

While the materials we digitized were similar, the projects themselves were very different. Mercer’s collection has a staff of three, a very small budget, and limited equipment. They have done a great job of getting started with digitizing and they plan to continue digitizing as much as they can with what they have. Baylor, on the other hand, has quite a large staff and budget (comparatively) as well as more equipment. They made a video for YouTube and unveiled their materials in a dramatic way. On each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from January through March, they launched one Civil War letter on the YouTube site. This created a loyal following who tuned in to read the letters, each of which was transcribed, digitized and “recorded” for the viewer to hear and see.

After the sessions we were able to tour the Virginia Baptist Historical Society, which is on the campus of the University of Richmond. The director, Fred Anderson, told our group about the facility as well as the history of the collection. Currently they have an exhibit called “Free Indeed”! which tells the story of African-Americans and Whites in antebellum Virginia. Original documents, church records and artifacts are on display and tell amazing stories of the history of this area. They have also compiled a name registry of over 51,000 names of slaves, freedmen and white surnames. The special projects assistant, Mike Whitt, researched over 200 antebellum church record books from the archives there to find and list all of these names! The names have been put on the public computers in the VBHS for people who want to research their ancestors. It is an amazing amount of information!







In addition to the ALABI conference, I attended the final session of the Baptist History and Heritage Society. This group always meets in conjunction with the ALABI group, either just before or after the ALABI conference. I had attended the BH&H conference last year to share the Biblical Recorder project information with them and they were quite excited about that resource! This year, there was a special reason for me to be at this meeting as well. Our very own NC Baptist Collection received the Davis C. Woolley award which is given in by the BH&HS in conjunction with ALABI! I was invited to receive the award at the luncheon that day, and was very proud to represent the WFU Special Collections and Archives Department. We received the award based on our efforts to use technology to make our materials accessible more widely (i.e. the Biblical Recorder project, our current partnering with Chapel Hill and Duke on the Religion in NC grant project) , the progress made on processing important Baptist collections and having finding aids available online (Wayne Oates, Bill Leonard, Warren Carr and Henlee Barnette specifically) and the amount of reference questions related to the Baptist collection that we answer (over 125 so far this year). It is so affirming to be recognized for the work that we have done and continue to do and know that it benefits researchers from all over.

*Side note* After I received the award, a gentleman came up to talk to me. He was a Wake alum (’64) and very excited to hear about our projects. He also mentioned that he took part in the MOOC that Kyle coordinated and enjoyed it very much! Small world…

The final day of the conference included a session on preservation of materials presented by a rep from Metal Edge and a conservationist from the Virginia State Library which was very informative and then a business meeting and “lightning round” where we each had a minute to tell what we are working on in out collections. There was talk of a possible Baptist Digital Library in the works to consolidate Baptist resources in one place, ongoing efforts to continue digitizing materials, hopes to digitize church records, and interest in future publishing opportunities. We covered a lot in two days and it was well worth the trip. If you would like information on anything I’ve mentioned here, I would be happy to share more with you.











Don’t Forget Them: Documenting Underserved and Underrepresented Groups in the Archives

Friday, October 12, 2012 12:38 pm

Last week I attended the South Carolina Archival Association’s Fall Meeting. The topic was “Thinking Outside the Archival Box: Expanding our Reach to Underserved and Underrepresented Groups” which fit perfectly with the initiative that we here at the WFU Archives are beginning*. The conference was held in the Hollings Special Collections Library at the University of South Carolina. It was built in 2010, connecting to the Thomas Cooper library, the main undergraduate library. It was a great facility for the meeting, with a large conference room at the back and the main collections housed on either side of a large reading room (Rare Books on one side, Political Collections on the other). There are large spaces in front of each collection area that are full of display cases where they show memorabilia, photos and books.

SC Political Collections exhibit area

SC Political Collections exhibit area

SC Political Collections displays

SC Political Collections displays


USC just recently acquired over 1200 Hemingway items which they added to their existing materials, making it the most complete collection of his published works. What an incredible collection and exhibit! USC’s Hemingway Collection

Hemingway exhibit information

Hemingway exhibit information

Many unique Hemingway materials!

Many unique Hemingway materials!

Once we were settled in the meeting area, our session began with Christopher Judge, who is the Assistant Director of the Native American Studies department at USC-Lancaster. The program began in 2003 when Dr. Tom Blumer donated his collection of research to the USC-L library. In the collection are his “papers, archives, and artifacts, all dealing with the Catawba Indians. The T.J. Blumer Catawba Research Collection contains a wide variety of materials created and collected by the donor over a 40-year period as he conducted his research on the Catawba and other Native American peoples, with a focus on the pottery of the Catawba Indians. These materials form the single largest documentary collection of materials about the Catawba in existence. The collection also provides the best existing documentation on the life, work, techniques, and products of the Catawba potters, artists who have maintained a continuous tradition stretching back hundreds, if not thousands, of years”. (Native American Studies Program). Building on this core collection, the school developed the Native American Studies department which includes an archaeologist (Judge), a folklorist/oral historian, art instructor/curator of the pottery collection, archivist, and an English instructor/Catawba linguist. They work closely with the Native American people of the area to make sure they are accurately sharing the NA culture and heritage with the students in the program as well as the community.


Brent Burgin, director of the NA archives then told us that there are over 40,000 Native American people currently living in South Carolina, but their history and culture is hardly known at all, and what is known many times is myth. He shared about how he and the other members of the department have worked and continue to work hard to gain the trust of the NA people in the area. He said he felt very awkward and nervous about approaching them to talk about starting other collections for the archives because he didn’t want them to feel patronized. They have such a long history of persecution that he understood why they didn’t trust “outside” people who seem to want to work with them but may have ulterior motives. After he got past his “Amero-centricity” he realized that he needed to just be himself, and show that he is sincere about wanting to document and preserve the NA history with the help of the local tribes. Burgin said that he and all of the faculty have worked to gain the trust of the local people over the years, and they have a strong relationship on both sides now. He stated that identity, accountability and advocacy are the most important things for him and the other faculty to remember as they work with the NA people.

* The archive is “Switzerland” when it comes to political issues of the tribes; they include all information and don’t take sides on issues

*They always get the Catawbas’ approval before making presentations or conducting programs to make sure they are representing the people correctly

*They continue to maintain the trust between the archives and NA people, by sharing the rich history and working with the tribe members to help them with questions or research they may be doing


We then heard from Ed Madden, Henry Fulmer and Jeffery Makala about the LGBTQ and AIDS/HIV Collections at the main campus. Madden, an associate professor of English and the director of undergraduate studies in the Women and Gender studies program, shared about his experiences using LGBTQ collections in his research on gender theory and Irish cultural studies. He discussed how difficult some items were to find, and that being able to study the originals was much preferable to using a digitized version at times. Because of his extensive research over the years, he has become a sort of archivist himself, helping to bring various donations to the LGBTQ collection at the South Caroliniana Library. He noted that very little has been done to intentionally document experiences of LGBTQ people in the US, and that for a long time it was seen unimportant or inappropriate to do so. Thankfully that idea is changing…


Henry Fulmer, curator of manuscripts at the South Caroliniana Library, discussed the GLBTQ collection itself, and how it has evolved over the years. They began the collection in 1970, and it documents the people, events and organizations connected to GLBTQ efforts and activities throughout the state of South Carolina. Jim Blanton, Harriet Hancock, Santi Thompson, Harlan Greene, DiAna DiAna, and Patricia Volker are just a few of the people who have donated their papers to the collection as well as groups such as the AIDS Benefit Council, Alliance for Full Acceptance and the Affirm Organization.


Jeffery Makala then told us about the HIV/AIDS collection, which he has helped to build from scratch. It started by documenting the first 10 years of the AIDS epidemic in America and continued to grow and widen its coverage. Originally focused on South Carolina materials, the collection now includes rare and unique materials from all over. For example, it now houses the only complete run of The Advocate in SC, many originals of a magazine called RFD, APA publications and high school teacher guides. It also includes 1700 monographs, 20-30 runs of different periodicals and a variety of realia such as buttons, ribbons, badges and shirts.


All of these efforts to document groups that have been historically un- or under-represented demonstrate large-scale programs and support of them. It was heartening and encouraging to hear about the development of these collections and to see that there is now a concerted effort to preserve the history of these people. Since ZSR operates on a smaller scale than USC, it might seem that there aren’t a lot of “take-aways” for me from this conference. But truly the bottom line is the same for us as for them as for any institution: you must establish and maintain trust between you and the group that has been unrepresented or ignored. If an archives is making a sincere effort to be inclusive and represent the many groups of its institution or area, the groups in turn should be able see that their collections will be protected and maintained in a place that will represent all of its donors in a professional way. These things can be done in any archives of any size, and I am happy to say that we are launching such an effort here this month. (*See Documenting Diversity for more info on our kickoff )! Learning from other institutions who have already moved ahead with this kind of project is the best way to plan our approach. We can see what has worked well for these groups and incorporate the same type of efforts and activities here, tailored to WFU. We look forward to growing our University Archives with all groups who are part of the school’s history.

Pre-School, Wake Forest-Style

Thursday, September 20, 2012 12:12 pm

On August 22nd, a week before classes began, I had the enjoyable experience of conducting two mini-courses at Wake Forest Pre-School. Most of you who read this are thinking “I had no idea that WFU had a preschool! I thought we couldn’t even get a day care facility on campus!”. Well, the Pre-School of which I speak is a week-long camp sponsored by the WFU Chaplain’s office for incoming freshmen. It is held the week before classes start and this year was at Camp Cheerio, about an hour northwest of Winston-Salem.

Entrance sign

Entrance sign


This is an event that has been going on or 57 years, and is an informal way for new students to transition into college life. Older students attend as mentors for the freshmen, answering questions and giving helpful advice on how to survive and succeed at Wake. All students take part in discussion groups, hear panel presentations about what campus life is really like, have a talent show, and attend mini-courses which are presented by WFU faculty and staff members. These courses are designed to help the freshmen get to know some of the faculty and staff at WFU, without the pressure of being in class yet. Topics can be on just about any subject that the presenter chooses, and is usually on something that he or she enjoys and is interested in. Sessions over the past few years have included:

Top 10 Ethical Questions for Incoming Students

White Collar Crime and Prison Ministry

WFU Points of Pride

Body Talk: Understanding Body Image Pressures in the College Environment

Awake to the Arts at WFU

The Power of Thank You

Evolution and the Bible: Is there a Problem?

Sherlock Holmes

Hand massage and relaxation

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll


When I was asked to be a presenter, I immediately thought of something that never ceases to surprize me and spur my curiosity: The History of Wake Forest. No shock there, right? I decided to approach the topic in a more detailed way, though, and share some lesser-known information with these students; things that the average WFU student doesn’t know and that give a richness to the story of the school. They all know the basics of the Founded- in- 1834- by- Samuel- Wait- in- Wake Forest, NC story, but there’s more to it than that. For example: What was the school mascot in the early days, before the Demon Deacon? Answer: Tigers. (There is even a spirit pin that was found on the grounds of the Old Campus that depicts a tiger. It is on display at the Wake Forest Historical Museum now)! Or: Who came up with the idea for the Demon Deacon and when? Answer: Jack Baldwin (’43) in the 1940’s. I wanted them to learn more about the story of their school, as well as how their own personal stories will now be part of WFU’s, and WFU’s story will be part of theirs.


My mini-course was titled “My Story/Your Story, His Story/Her Story”. After a few logistical difficulties (we had to run an extension cord from inside the meeting hall through a window to the porch where my group was and then find space for the screen),

Mini-Course on the porch

Mini-Course on the porch

Meeting hall with wrap around porch

Meeting hall with wrap around porch

I started off with a little quiz to see what they knew about WFU and the more obscure details, and they were very engaged in the questions. They were all very interested in the facts and stories I shared with them and seemed genuinely glad to hear the information. (One of the benefits of being in the mountains was the spotty cell phone reception. Everyone was so attentive and undistracted)! Of course, I also told them about ZSR and the great people who work here, and encouraged them to all come by and get familiar with the library. I gave them an overview of the services that ZSR offers, and invited them to come by Special Collections to use primary sources or to just visit. One of the mentor students (a sophomore) gave a glowing (unsolicited) review of the library, and said she always found our staff to be very helpful and easy to work with. Nothing better than a student-to-student recommendation! After telling some of my story and Wake’s story, I asked them to tell me their stories. We found out where they came from, how they heard about Wake, their hopes and fears as freshmen, and what they were feeling at that point. They are fascinating young people, and it was a treat to get to know them.


So, if you are ever asked to be part of Pre-School, I would encourage you to accept the offer and enjoy the chance to make freshmen feel a little more comfortable as they begin their time at WFU. You can gain as much from them as they can from you!



View from camp

View from camp


Lovely mountains

Lovely mountains




Vicki at 2012 Baptist History and Heritage Conference

Thursday, June 14, 2012 4:39 pm

On June 7th and 8th, I attended the annual conference of the Baptist History and Heritage Society, which was held in Raleigh this year. The BHHS ” a 73-year old non-profit, professional organization with members worldwide, bridges the worlds of the academy and the congregation, communicating the story of Baptists through print and digital media publications, conferences and seminars”. I was familiar with this group because many of the books they publish are wonderful resources that we add to the NC Baptist Collection, and we receive their journal Baptist History and Heritage, which is also part of the NC Baptist Collection. But I had not been to a conference before…


This year, the stars aligned just right to make this a great time for me to attend. The conference was in Raleigh, hosted at First Baptist Church Raleigh, and it would be a perfect opportunity for me to share information about our Biblical Recorder Digitization Project. I hoped that it would be possible for me to have a poster on display along with some take-along cards that have the website for the BR project as well as the Special Collections email address, phone and website. I contacted the Executive Director of the society and asked him about my idea. He said that would be fine, but he also wanted to find some time for me to present the information to the attendees. Even though most of the program was already scheduled, they found a slot for me to speak briefly on Thursday night. I told about how the digitization project came about through an IMLS grant, and about the processes we went through to finally wind up with the finished product. My presentation tied in nicely as the intro for the main speaker that night, Dr. Glenn Jonas of Campbell University. Dr. Jonas has written a book about the history of the First Baptist Church of Raleigh which is celebrating its 200th anniversary and used the Biblical Recorder for a lot of his research. He said he just wished it had been online and searchable earlier! He spoke about his research and how fortunate he was that FBC Raleigh had kept such detailed and organized records. He then told of how FBC Raleigh had been very progressive all along in regards to having black members as well as female deacons all in the 1800’s.

Sanctuary at FBC Raleigh

Dr. Glenn Jonas speaking at FBC Raleigh


Sanctuary at FBC Raleigh

Sanctuary at FBC Raleigh

( A side note of interest: the name “Charles Lee Smith” appears at the bottom of the stained glass window behind Dr. Jonas. He was a member of FBC Raleigh, and donated his library to Wake Forest College in 1941. His books was the core of what is now the Rare Books collection here at ZSR!)


After the presentations were finished, several people came up to ask me about various aspects of our project. They said that they had heard about it and were very excited to use it! Wake Forest’s own Bill Leonard was there, too, and said he was very glad that I was spreading the word about the BR and he had also used it. BHHS director, Bruce Gourley, asked if we have plans to do more digitization of other Baptist materials, and complemented the BR site which he had already used to research for his blog, Baptists and the American Civil War. It was so good to hear such positive feedback, and know that it is such an appreciated resource.

The next day, I attended several sessions and heard paper presentations on interesting topics in Baptist history.

*Deane Langdon told about Alma May Scarborough who wrote church materials for children and was a proponent of teaching children through play rather than lecture. She trained hundreds of teachers across the country and helped to bring about change in the way children’s Sunday School classes were taught.

*Steve Lemke from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary presented research on theological perspectives in hymnody, showing how Baptist theology is expressed in hymns and relating how this theology has been tested over the centuries in three major “Worship Wars”. The first was in the 16th century and dealt with sacred spaces and how Baptists “did worship”. The language of hymns, the tunes, and the use of musical instruments were all points of contention for those who were establishing new patterns of Reformation worship. Worship War II was in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time, hymns became more personal and evangelical. But some groups of Baptists did not like congregational singing, and this is still a trait of Primitive Baptist churches today. Others didn’t like the personal wording and theology of the “new hymns” and this led to a split of many congregations. Worship War III is happening today, with issues such as the use of “praise choruses”, the theology that is focused on in traditional versus contemporary hymns and how a congregation can find its most suitable style of worship and hymns based on its theology.

*Jay Smith from Yellowstone Theological Institute ( a new school in Montana) spoke about new ways of “doing and being church” (he quoted Bill Leonard on that). He addressed the fact that there are many ways to be a Baptist theologically and that many pastors and congregations today are trying to embrace a post-modern era.

*Philip Thompson fro Sioux Falls Seminary in South Dakota talked about how Baptist history and identity have been argued about for years, and that Baptist principles can’t be separated from Baptist history. He quoted Nathan Hatch as saying “we are in an age of radical anti-elitism” and how this attitude shows up in many congregations across the country.

In addition to hearing informative speakers, I was able to meet other archivists and librarians who work with state Baptist collections in Georgia, Alabama and Texas. It was great to make those connections and compare notes. One even said “we were talking about your Biblical Recorder project the other day, and would like to do something similar to that”! Great to hear that our work has been noticed. I’m glad I had the chance to attend this conference and meet people who maintain similar kinds of collections as well as those who research heavily in our collections and appreciate our materials on a different level than a casual user. I hope to attend again next year!


There’s no crying in archives! Or is there?

Thursday, April 12, 2012 6:00 pm

On March 29th and 30th, I attended the annual conference of the Society of North Carolina Archivists or SNCA (along with Rebecca and Craig). We were fortunate that it was held at UNC-Greensboro this year, making it an easy drive. Being on the planning committee, I knew that there were more people registered for this conference than ever before, so I looked forward to being part of it. (Plus I was in charge of making name tags and wanted to put faces with all of the 160 names I had printed out)!

The experience did not disappoint, and there was a good crowd from all over the state as well as some out-of-staters. Since Craig and Rebecca have already done a great job summarizing much of the conference, I will recount what I thought were highlights of the sessions and what I took away from them.


Plenary speaker- Kate Theimer

Kate is the author of the blog ArchivesNext. She discussed the 6 trends that will or already are affecting archives and asked us to think about how we’ll deal with them. The trends are:

*Participatory Culture

*Changes in how people document themselves

*Changes in scholarly practice

*Expanding Digitization

*Popularization of history

*Blurring of organizational roles

All of these are external forces that we can’t control, so we have to adapt. While there isn’t one answer that will work for everyone, Kate suggested that we step back, look at new technologies, look at other cool projects that are being done, and watch the new trends in history scholarship. Using this information we can adjust our own institutions in the ways that will best help us to be productive and responsive to researchers. As Kate was talking about what our mission is as archivists (preserving the past), she teared up and had to stop talking for a minute. Why, you ask? Because it is such and IMPORTANT job!

**Stepping on soapbox now** The job of keeping stories alive, of being the institutional memory, of preserving that information that someone will need to see again in 20 years… it really does matter! I know that many people think that we in Special Collections are a bit obsessive about “keeping stuff” and that we should just throw things away because most things are online now. But that fact is that we aren’t and they aren’t. To give a voice to those who have gone before us and to have things available that you can really “touch”, we have to be a little obsessive about making sure that important things don’t get tossed in the trash can (ask Beth about a book that belonged to Charles Dickens). When Dr. Hatch’s office needed a photo of a distinguished alumni, we had it. When a display needed an original King James Bible, we had it. When a professor needed to see Dr. Tribble’s original correspondence and notes to write a book, we had it. When Tom Hayes needed to see page after page of his father’s (Harold Hayes) hand-written notes and manuscripts for a documentary, we had it. If we hadn’t saved these things, huge pieces of history would have been lost.

We have no problems with digitizing things and sharing them online, but it’s also important to keep the original items as well. It’s just not the same to see a letter signed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., online as it is to actually hold it. It’s a direct connection to the past. And even if something is saved digitally, there is no guarantee that you’ll always have the technology available to access it, i.e. floppy discs and reel to reel tapes. That’s why paper hard copies are still pretty useful. ** Stepping off soapbox now**

So, to sum up, Kate Theimer is a strong believer in adapting to change and making history appealing to the public. But she is also keenly aware of the huge task that belongs to archivists which is to keep primary sources and make them accessible to researchers both in person and on the web. Her ideas and observations about archives were thought-provoking and I’m glad I got to hear her speak.


-The presentation that followed discussed how to successfully Crowdsource projects and get good results!

*Lisa Gregory from the NC Department of Cultural Resources described how they used Flickr Uplodr to have volunteers help transcribe documents from their collections. They promote the project, North Carolina Family Records Online, through Facebook, Twitter and their blogs. Their volunteers have done great work, and are very meticulous about their projects. Lisa said they give personal thanks to their volunteers often, and also give them recognition for their help.

*Lynn Richardson of the Durham County Public Library North Carolina Room told about the Durham Civil Rights Heritage Project. Library workers and volunteers held “collection days” in different parts of the city, when private individuals and local professional photographers could bring in pictures as well as have their stories recorded, telling the the history of the civil rights movement in Durham. The library staff scanned the photos and shot negatives of them as well. The photos were then given back to the owners, along with a “thank you scan” of it. They had good turn out at each location, and more collection days are planned for the future.

*Michelle Czaikowski from the State Library of North Carolina talked about NCpedia. The target audiences as possible contributors for this site area subject specialists, writers and history enthusiasts. If you’d like to contribute, here is what to do

Anyone interested in contributing is encouraged to peruse the NCpedia’s at and contact Steve Case or Michelle Czaikowski, Digital Projects Manager for the State Library with the topic on which you are interested in writing, even if the topic is still listed on our list of “Topics Needed.” This will insure there is no duplication. (We don’t want anyone to go through the effort of writing an article on a topic already fully covered!) Please also include a target date for completing the entry. Entries may vary in length between 500 – 2000 words depending on the topic”.

They are also looking for images to use in NCpedia. Have some you’d like to share? Then read this:

NCpedia is currently seeking images for Flickr slideshows for NCpedia’s county profiles.

Do you have digital photographs of places in North Carolina? Do you use Flickr? Would you like your Flickr photos featured in NCpedia’s county profiles?

Contributing them is an easy two-step process.

First, let Flickr know you are okay with sharing your photos with us. To do this, go to the “Privacy & Permissions” settings on your account to make sure the answers to the following questions are as follows:

  • “Allow others to share your stuff?” Yes
  • “Allow your stuff to be added to a gallery?” Yes
  • “Hide your stuff from public searches?” No

Second, add the following tags to the photos you would like to appear in NCpedia:

  • ncpedia
  • the county name, as one word. For example: wakecounty, pendercounty, cravencounty

So far response has been great, and they are always looking for new information and pictures!


*Tom Flynn from Winston-Salem Sate shared about the efforts he’s making to increase the photo collections there. He literally goes to events and holds up a sign that says “send your pictures to this address” which is set up to go to and archives account that is set up on their SnapCrowd (cloud storage) account. Response has been good so far, and they hope to produce QR codes for the yearbook eventually as well as stream the videos at the sporting event, in the student center and in the archives. He also mentioned that there they do some screening to weed out inappropriate photos or video, but so far there haven’t been any problems.


-A presentation on Copyright for Digital Collections highlighted just how difficult it really can be, and is many times, to get permission to provide online access to materials. Lynn Eaton from Duke, Kristy Dixon from UNC- Charlotte, and Maggie Dickson from UNC-Chapel Hill all recounted the long, involved process of researching who holds copyright for various materials, what to ask when you send a letter to get permission to put materials online, and what the Fair Use Provision of the Copyright Act of 1976 says. (Fair Use) Duke is working with advertising materials from a large number of companies, UNC-Charlotte is working with the Payne Editorial Cartoon Collection and UNC-Chapel Hill is working with city directories. Needless to say, very few things were cut and dried for these projects, but they are all moving ahead without any problems so far.

-Craig, Rebecca and I enjoyed hearing about the projects that are going on at NC State in their Special Collections Research Center, but I must admit we were more than a little envious of their resources and number of staff.

*Kristen Merryman, Digital Projects Librarian, described how they have been identifying potential users for their agricultural collections. Going by professors’ offices, spreading the word through student employees and doing departmental outreach has helped them connect with departments that didn’t know what resources were available in Special Collections.

*Emily Walters, Project Librarian with the architectural and design school, discussed the grant-funded project, Changing the Landscape, that helped them process 1200 linear feet of over 40,000 original drawings and project files. They refined their processing procedures and were able to make the materials available for use. They actually take the materials to the students in the design library and have had good response.

*Genya O’Gara, Project Librarian for Student Leadership Initiative, told of the Red, White and Black project which celebrates the African American student experience at NCSU. It is a guided walking tour around campus that lets use familiar technology to hear a speaker tell what happened at a certain place or see a picture of how things “used to be”. Response has been very positive, overwhelmingly so, and there are plans to continue to expand the information included in it.


After a great lunch at Jack’s Corner, Rebecca and I made sure things were ready for our presentation on digitizing the Biblical Recorder from our NC Baptist Collection. While we didn’t bring the audience to tears, all went well and there were some good questions for us at the end. Our co-presenter, Gwen Gosney Erickson, described how Guilford College’s Historical Collection, along with other Quaker schools, had partnered with to have many of their church record holdings put online and be available to researchers. Their project isn’t complete yet, but should be within the year. Closing out our session was LeRae Umfleet from the NC Department of Cultural Resources. She discussed how they have used social media to share many of the resources they have about the Civil War. What she thought would encompass writing 2-3 blog posts a week morphed into 2-3 blog posts a day! She went through multiple diaries and letters and has found a corresponding entry for each day of the Civil War. She calls that job security for the next 3 years! There are many loyal followers of the blog, and they are anxious to hear what happens each day.


It’s always great to talk with other archivists and find out what they are doing and get new ideas from them. The 2012 SNCA conference was a place to do just that and I look forward to the next conference!









SAA- But wait, there’s more!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 5:05 pm

I know you’ve been inundated with tons of information about the Society of American Archivists’ annual conference over the past few weeks. Craig, Rebecca and Audra have done a wonderful job of describing so many of the sessions and topics that were addressed there, so I can say “Ditto” to all of their posts. But I also want to add my perspective on a few things that I learned while there, so here goes…


Archivists’ Toolkit

At the Roundtable session regarding Archivists’ Toolkit (the database that we use here) the speakers told of multiple updates that have been implemented, which will hopefully continue to decrease the number of “bugs” that we have encountered with it. They also discussed several new modules that had been developed by institutions that use AT. One in particular that caught my attention was the ATReference module created by the Rockefeller Archives Center. It is used to manage reference requests, register patrons, record visits and topics of research and track user statistics. We here at ZSR have always said it would be nice to have such a feature as part of AT, but we don’t have the resources to create it on our own. So, now that someone else has done the hard part, maybe we can investigate using it! We currently use LibStats to track our reference activities, and it works nicely so we aren’t desperate for a system, but it’s nice to know that there is an option available for AT now. Future plans for other possible modules include: Retrievals, Bar coding and Use Tracking, Reading Room Scheduling, and Web Interface and Personal User Accounts.


Skeletons in the Closet: Addressing Privacy and Confidentiality Issues for Born-Digital Materials

On the digital preservation front, I attended a session that addressed privacy and confidentiality issues for born-digital materials. Erin O’Meara from UNC-Chapel Hill, Gabby Redwine from the Ransom Center at UT- Austin and Bonnie Weddle from the New York State Archives discussed privacy concerns with regards to born-digital accessions.

*Erin told about a time at UNC School of Medicine when there was a data breach a few years ago and the confidential information of hundreds of breast cancer patients was accessed. After this occurrence, UNC responded with the creation of the position of Data Security Officer as well as multiple policies to protect the privacy of patient information. There were also numerous retirements and departures of campus administrators who were either somehow connected to the affected departments or who were opposed to the new policies and structure. While medical information should definitely be protected, Erin made the point that there has to be a balance between access and privacy to university records in a public institution.

Their approach is to work with the creator or the records to identify confidential information from the beginning. This is very helpful, but not always accurate. Some confidential information has been found in the donated records even after reviewing it with the creators before the archives receives it. So, they also scan the records with a bulk extractor to look for general expressions or keywords. This helps them pinpoint items that cannot be kept in the repository, but it also very time consuming. Erin said there is a tension between the shift to minimal processing for paper records, but then doing more with the e-records. New training and tools are needed to address the issues such as the best staffing models for dealing with digital information, the best practices that are emerging for digital curation and how to address redaction and restrictions to public records consistently.


*Gabby Redwine discussed the ways that the Ransom Center handles digital information. They deal mainly with manuscripts there, and works of contemporary authors arrive on floppy discs, tapes, cartridges as well as computers. (They have 8 computers with authors’ works on them currently). They want to maintain the original order and provenance as much as possible, and to do this they use forensic software just like law enforcement and government agencies use. This type of software can decrypt passwords, find deleted emails, create an exact replica of a disk, and much more. While great for retrieving information, archivists are then posed with the question of what to retain and what to leave. Do you pull deleted emails back out and keep a copy? Do you create an image of the disk, or just copies of the files? And if it is a collection that you’ve had since long before digital forensics was possible, what do you pull from those old disks, computers, etc.? Since most donor agreements from years past don’t mention the issue of retrieving information from digital formats, it leaves the archivist in a sensitive situation, especially if the donor has died and no family member is reachable. What do you do if you find unexpected or private information on these old formats? These are all ongoing issues that archivists are dealing with, and that have no clear cut answers at this point.


* Bonnie Weddle works in the New York State Archives. Obviously she deals with government records which are very different than the kind of materials we have here, but many of the issues are the same. How to provide access while maintaining confidentiality, how to make the records available online quickly, and the best way to deal with huge amounts of information when you have a small staff and not enough space. We all identified with these themes!


Doing a 180: Putting Ephemera on the Front Burner

I joined this session mid-way through, but got a lot out of it! The presenters told about their projects that were designed to make collections of ephemera accessible online and about the successes and challenges involved. To me it is a bit ironic that there are so many large collections of ephemera around the world when the word itself describes impermanence! (definition of ephemera) We have a huge amount of ephemera here that, to me, is one of the most interesting groups of materials at WFU. I got some good ideas of what other institutions are doing to showcase their ephemera, and hope to do something similar here.

For example:

The California Ephemera Project was funded by a CLIR grant. Mary Morganti of the California Historical Society explained:

*Staff were hired to work on just this project and they shared the decision- making for what would be included and how.

*Each contributing institution can edit their own finding aids on line, since they know the collections best

*New institutions can contribute to the ephemera catalog at any time

*The project directors would have “contests” to see what staff member could find the smallest object, largest object, etc. to keep people motivated as they worked to catalog the items

*They would up with an established framework for adding digital images of ephemera to the website, and can use the same steps for scan on demand projects


The Hartman Center – Duke University

Richard Collier told about the collections at the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History. Among the notable collections are:

Advertising Ephemera

The J. W. Thompson archive

He also said that they have received materials from Lester Wunderman, who is considered the father of direct marketing (i.e. junk mail). While some see it as junk mail, it is actually the creative product of this company; their artefactual history. There are boxes and boxes of mailings for companies that show the different styles of mailings that went out and to whom. Some are on slick paper, some on regular paper. Some have logos on the envelopes, others don’t. Some are targeted at a younger consumer, others at older ones. An amazing amount of materials, just waiting to be processed!


Which Hat are You Wearing? “You Need What, When?”

This session was helpful because the presenters described ways to juggle multiple duties in an archives and actually accomplish things at the same time. While it came from the angle of “lone arrangers”, it was still very applicable to me and the way we handle things at ZSR. While I’m not alone, there are some responsibilities that fall to me a majority of the time and I need to know the best ways to divide my time.

*Alison Stankrauff from Indiana University at South Bend recommended staying involved in professional organizations, the school and the community in order to “give back” to the profession and to the researchers.

* Lisa Sjoberg from Concordia College talked about how she works on displays, newsletters and bulletin boards in order to publicize the archives’ materials. By also forming relationships with faculty and staff on her campus as well as other archivists in the area, she is able to gain support for her projects and increase publicity as well.

*Chana Kotzin from the Jewish Buffalo Archive Project of the Bureau of Jewish Education of Greater Buffalo described how she collaborated with other local institutions to create a website, locate potential grant offerings, and coordinate small events for their area.

All presenters emphasized how important it is to carve out at least an hour or two each day to have uninterrupted time in order to respond to emails, work on processing, answer reference questions and just keep your sanity. While it’s easier said than done, it’s something I need to implement to stay productive.

Thus ended my first day and a half of sessions at SAA… Summaries of the next two days soon to come!













Mentoring Committe Journal Reading Group

Friday, November 12, 2010 3:46 pm

On Wednesday, Nov. 10th, I had the privilege of leading a discussion about two articles on Reverse Mentoring today. Our group discussed “How to Use Reverse Mentoring as a Retention Tool for Gen Y Employees” and “Reverse Mentoring Empowers Emerging and Established Leaders”. (links here: and

Reverse mentoring is when a younger employee is paired with an older, more seasoned employee and the younger employee is the mentor. To begin, we discussed the different generations and their general characteristics, and saw the connection between those and how some people respond to being mentored by someone who is younger or newer at the company. We shared our observations of what we see as the “typical” behavior for people in these groups. For clarity’s sake, here are the generations we focused on (and of course these are general descriptions and we know that not everyone fits the profile for the date they were born):

1925-1945 Silent Generation or Mature Generation: This is a description that appeared in a magazine article in 1951 describing this group; “Youth today is waiting for the hand of fate to fall on its shoulders, meanwhile working fairly hard and saying almost nothing. The most startling fact about the younger generation is its silence. With some rare exceptions, youth is nowhere near the rostrum. By comparison with the Flaming Youth of their fathers & mothers, today’s younger generation is a still, small flame. It does not issue manifestos, make speeches or carry posters. It has been called the “Silent Generation.” ”

This group tends to be afraid or very skeptical of technology, seeing it as a short cut around the hard work that they had to do. They don’t embrace new gadgets or programs readily and may feel threatened that they will be “replaced by a machine”.

1946-1964 Baby Boomers: “This group is forced with the dilemma of adapting to new technology out of necessity, while at the same time being old dogs learning new tricks”. They like new gadgets and enjoy using them in a recreational way, but don’t enjoy being forced to learn things for fear of losing a job or because they may fall behind in work skills.

1965-1979: Generation X: These folks adapt well to new technologies, and learn them without much trouble. They aren’t afraid to use technology in new ways, but also don’t see it as a necessity for life. While they might want a new iPad or Blackberry, they know they don’t NEED it to survive. It’s part of day to day life, but life can go on without having the newest, shiniest gadgets.

1980-2000: Millennials or Generation Y: This group has always been around technology. They have grown up with access to computers and the Internet and aren’t afraid of new technology. They multi-task with ease. But with the easy access to so much technology, they almost take it for granted, and seem to value quantity over quality when finding information. The can get frustrated with people who don’t catch on to technology as quickly as they do.

After sharing our impressions of the generations and their typical traits, we moved into a discussion about the benefits of pairing younger employees with older ones to share information, especially about technology. We all felt that it is important to being open to learning new ideas and processes, from whomever is the best teacher. Age isn’t a factor, as long as both parties approach the relationship with an open mind. The younger can share expertise on technology, while the older can share the nuances of the institution and the way it works, as well as best practices for employees. It can be a symbiotic arrangement!

By entrusting younger, especially Gen Y employees, with the responsibility of mentoring another, it helps to meet their desire to “make a difference” and use the tech knowledge that is second nature to them. And if you have more satisfied employees, they are more likely to stay with the institution for a longer time. The arrangement also benefits older employees by taking the anxiety off of them to learn new technology; they don’t have to work on it on their own time with no one to answer questions. It has been arranged and approved by the institution for them to learn from a co-worker, at work, and they can see how the technology applies directly to their job and their responsibilities.

Our group also noted some distressing behaviors among some Gen Y’s that the older employee can help address and give advice on to help them assimilate better into work life. Specifically, things like email etiquette, professional relationships, appropriate interactions with others, and social skills can be honed with help from the older/more experienced employee.

We all agreed that a mentoring relationship, whether reverse or traditional, can greatly benefit both parties if they enter it willingly, with an open mind, and devote time to meeting and communicating with each other. We all have something to learn, and we all have something to teach.

Promoting Meaningful Classroom Participation- is it possible?

Thursday, February 25, 2010 5:53 pm

On Feb. 4th (the only day that week that the campus opened at the regular time) I attended a presentation on promoting meaningful classroom participation, sponsored by the TLC. Dr. Dee Oseroff-Varnell, professor in the Communications Department, led our session. For anyone who has taught LIB 100 or any other class, you will recognize many of the common frustrations that were voiced!

We began by defining “classroom participation”, which meant different things to different people. Some defined participation as expressing critical thinking, disagreeing with the instructor, or making thoughtful contributions. Others mentioned incorporating current events into a discussion, asking questions, and taking the content to a different level. We then identified the road-blocks that hinder participation, such as distractions from electronic devices, under-prepared students, students who are afraid to say something “wrong”, time limits, lack of motivation (on the students’ part)! and that some students are there to be entertained and don’t do anything to contribute.

It was interesting to hear how other people had tried to address these issues, and I will try some of these ideas in my next LIB 100 class! We agreed that learning the students’ names early and then addressing them several times in class helps to encourage them to at least pay attention more, and talking them personally outside of class also helps them to be more comfortable with you. Hopefully this will translate into their feeling more comfortable talking in class! Having students work in small groups as well as sitting in a “conference style” can also help encourage participation by not focusing on just one person, and making class feel more like a discussion than a lecture.

We all agreed that it is important to let the students know the expectations and goals of the class early, especially what we expect as far as participation. For many instructors, “classroom engagement” is a better term to use when setting goals, with contributions to a discussion being one part of that. Some students participate in nonverbal ways, and are just as involved in learning the material as students who speak often in class. Ultimately, it is important that the instructor get a good “feel” for the type of students in the class and use methods that will best encourage them to be active participants. I hope these ideas will be effective in my next LIB 100 class; we’ll see in a few weeks!

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