Professional Development

Author Archive

Rebecca @ SAA 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015 4:58 pm

Recently, I traveled to Cleveland for the Society of American Archivists (SAA) 2015 Annual Meeting. I found this to be a particularly engaging experience, as I am becoming more and more involved in SAA and the various interest groups. You may see two themes emerge in the blog post: web-archiving and Reference, Access, and Outreach.

My first day in Cleveland, I represented WFU and ZSR at the Archive-It Partner Meeting. You may know that Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) has been using Archive-It as a web archiving platform since 2008. I have been involved with the Wake Forest University Archives Archive-It collection and its managment since 2010 (along with Kevin Gilberston, Craig Fansler, and Stephanie Bennett). Although I wasn’t able to attend the entire meeting, I did mange to sit in on a breakout group about quality assurance that was eye opening and encouraging. Basically, the group exchanged best practices and swapped stories about the difficulty of web archiving. I got some good tips and made contacts that I hope will help our team fine tune our collection.

Day two was filled with the Reference, Access, and Outreach Section’s “Teaching With Primary Resources” unconference. This was a wonderful addition to the regular SAA schedule and it has really made me think about how to “flip” the student experience in Special Collections & Archives. One example is to encourage students to use all their senses (except for taste) to describe materials they are experiencing in Special Collections. This will (hopefully) help people get past the idea that “everything is online” and have them engage with the feel of vellum, the smell of microfilm, and the look of manuscripts. I am hoping to use some of the strategies I learned in the numerous LIB100 classes scheduled in SC&A this Fall.

Day three and I started things off participating on a panel called “Big Web, Small Staff: Web Archiving with Limited Resources.” This was a terrific opportunity to engage with other archivists who are working with web archives on a smaller scale than the usual presenters on this topic. Our panel attempted (and I think succeeded) in breaking down how to implement and manage a web archive with limited resources. What made this different from other panels was that no one presenting was from a large institution with ample staff committed to the project. Everyone on the panel was working with limited staff and funding. The panel simply explained our own best practices and encouraged the majority of the attendees who have not yet, but would like to, set up a web archiving program at their institution.

Some other sessions I attended and found very valuable were “Learning to Manage, Managing to Learn” (one of the panel members was our old friend Audra Eagle Yun!) and “Narrowing the Focus of Social Media” (featuring another former North Carolina colleague, Katie Nash). Although very different panels, I found both applicable to my work.

I have recently been elected to the Reference, Access, and Outreach (RAO) section’s Steering Committee, so spent a bit of time in Cleveland attending the SAA Leadership Orientation and Forum as well as the RAO section meeting. I believe this is a great opportunity to get involved on a national level and have enjoyed working with RAO in the past. They have an active and engaging membership with some fantastic ideas shared at the meeting every year. I am thrilled to be able to work behind the scenes to make this even better.

Every year I find the SAA meeting to be more and more rewarding as I become more active in the profession and this year was no exception. As the current President of the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) I met up with and talked to many NC colleagues about what they are doing at their institutions. As my involvement grows beyond NC, I look forward to learning more at further SAA conferences. Thank you to the Dean’s office for funding this trip. I am happy to continue the conversation with anyone who would like to hear more about my experience at SAA.

Rebecca @ The Social Media Marketing Conference

Thursday, March 5, 2015 2:54 pm

A while back I attended The Social Media Marketing Conference in Charlotte. Meghan and Chris have both written great posts highlighting their experiences and I just wanted to share a few things I took away from this conference.


When optimizing your ROI, analytics are a great way to see what was effective and what was not. This course called these “lead measures” and “lag measures.” To take charge of your social media, you want to take lead measures, like posting about an event or person, and then analyzing how effective that lead measure was. By monitoring your metrics, you can tweak your lead measures based on their success.

Maximizing your social media

Another great tip was to maximize your social media. By this, I mean fill out your Facebook timeline completely (showing the history of your organization), link to your other social media accounts from eachother, stay engaging by changing your cover photo frequently, and posting frequently to your users.

Create an editorial calendar

It seems to me to have success with all of the other tips, this is the first thing to do. Have a plan. What are you blogging about this month? What are you Facebooking about this week,? What are you Tweeting about next Thursday? Having them planned out not only helps you lay out your message, but allows you to schedule posts, be aware of upcoming events, and overall provide a better experience for your social media followers.

I found this to be a very interesting an helpful conference. I would love to talk more about my experience with anyone interested. Thank you to the Dean’s office for making this possible.

Rebecca at CurateGear 2015

Friday, January 16, 2015 10:48 am

Last week, Tanya and I travelled to Chapel Hill for CurateGear 2015: Enabling the Curation of Digital Collections. After reading Tanya’s acoount of her experience, I thought I would fill in some of my favorite bits of the day.

Susan Malsbury – The GMHC Hotline Database: Capturing a snapshot of AIDS service providers in NYC

Susan presented a fascinating demonstration of emulation of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis hotline database in the Manuscripts and Archives Division reading room at NYPL. She explained the very simple setup of an emulation experience for researchers to access a disk image of the original born-digital materials from the collections. They have a dedicated machine in the reading room, offline and USB blocked (so patrons cannot make copies). There is a reader login account to access the records. They also load a pdf of the finding aid on the machine so researchers can see what they are looking at (since there is no internet). Serving the disk images in this way allows researchers to experience and utilize the materials without any harm to the original records. Given the many disks in our collections here in Special Collections & Archives, I found this to be a very inspiring and accessible way to provide access to patrons.

Lori Donovan – Archive-It 5.0

Lori spent a lot of time discussing Archive-It’s 5.0 updates that started rolling out in October of 2014 and will continue in 2015. This was a great session, as I think about WFU’s use of Archive-It a lot and enjoy hearing about how we can do this better. Some of the highlights of her talk included the fact that Archive-It is overhauling the user interface for the first time since they started in 2006. This is great news! It’s not done yet, but the reports section has been released. The reports (and later everything else) has a much cleaner, streamlined look and dynamic visualization of the information in the reports. You can really mine down into the information in the reports and fine tune your crawls with a much better understanding of what information you have captured. I was truly excited about these changes and can’t wait to see the future rollouts of Archive-It 5.0

I found the whole day at CurateGear 2015 a very interesting and inspiring experience. I would be happy to talk more about the presentations I mentioned or any others that I attended at CurateGear 2015. Thank you to the Dean’s office for the opportunity to attend.


Rebecca at SAA 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:01 am
Library of Congress

Library of Congress

I recently traveled to Washington, DC for the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Conference. I had a great experience attending a variety of different sessions and events. This conference was a bit of a change for me as my role in Special Collections & Archives is changing with my new position as Public Services Archivist. Although I attended collections focused sessions, I also made my way to instruction, outreach, and access sessions.

Some highlights include:

Regional Archival Associations Consortium

My third time representing the Society of North Carolina Archivists at a RAAC meeting was a very productive one. RAAC is a new group to SAA and the idea is to be a clearinghouse as well as a resource for regional and state associations (like SNCA) to have a voice at a national conference. I am a member of the Public Awareness Subcommittee, which is a great fir for my new position as Public Services Archivist. The Public Awareness Subcommittee breakout session brainstormed many ideas of how the good work regional and state associations are doing can translate beyond their borders. We also came to the conclusion that there is a lot of opportunity for overlap with associations like ALA (and RBMS) and the like. I enjoyed the great discussions we had in this meeting and look forward to learning from and contributing to the Public Awareness Subcommittee in the future.

Web Archiving Roundtable

Another new group, this was only the second SAA where this group met. I find this to be a great group of people to both learn from as well as commiserate with. Web Archiving is a new and fickle focus in the lives of archivists. It is nice to hear of successes and challenges from people who dedicate a tremendous amount of resources and time to the job. Interesting topics of appraisal came up a few times including topics like web archiving what is going on in Ferguson, MO as well as how to get a complete record of a collecting area as broad as “Mormons.” Here at ZSR we use Archive-It to capture our web presence and there are always folks at these meetings from Archive-It to answer questions. My favorite bit was the speaker who explained that we have to give up perfection when web archiving…that is certainly true!

Reference, Access, and Outreach Section

Another great group of people, the RAO Section hosts a “marketplace of ideas” during their time to encourage discussion. I very much enjoy listening to reference, access, and outreach strategies that have been successful at other institutions. Things like “pop-up” archives at student events, having a stronger social media presence, and engaging with faculty by taking their classes were just a few of the good ideas I heard at this meeting. I hope I can be more active with this group in the future, as they have a lot going on.

Teaching & Outreach

A session I attended on teaching and outreach had some great ideas on how to engage users of all ages during instruction sessions. One I liked best was to encourage classes to bring four things from home as their “personal” archive. Mix these things up and have other people organize, arrange, and describe them. Analysis of everyday things might give them a better sense of an archives rather than what we are currently presenting in instruction sessions.


These are just a few of the ideas I took away with me from SAA this year. I enjoyed this conference greatly and found that my new perspective coupled with my years of experience made this a different sort of conference. I am getting to know the profession better and the people in it, enhancing my conference experience greatly. Thanks to the Dean’s office for making my attendance possible.


Rebecca at NCPC Scrapbook Workshop

Monday, July 28, 2014 5:03 pm

Last Friday, I traveled to Elon University Preserving Scrapbooks: From Acquisition to Access put together by the North Carolina Preservation Consortium (NCPC). Led by Katie Nash, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian at Elon University, and Beth Doyle, Head of the Conservation Services Department at Duke University Libraries, this workshop was a comprehensive overview of all aspects of scrapbook acquisition, preservation, and access.

The day was broken down into the following categories: intellectual control, physical control, care and handling, and hands-on assessment. Katie started the day giving a wonderful overview of how to gain intellectual control over your holdings, specifically scrapbooks. Her discussion included collection development policies, acquisitions and accessions procedures, deeds of gift, use policies, and scrapbook cataloging. Once this foundation is established, gaining physical control over scrapbooks in a collection is the next challenge. Katie discussed various strategies from interleaving, to stabilization, to disbinding, and disassembly of scrapbooks. Elon’s practice over the years has been to disbind and disassemble scrapbooks. Their concern is more with content than artifact. Beth Doyle tended to cringe at this, but the discussion left everyone in agreement that each scrapbook is different and there is “silver bullet” way to gain physical control. The nature of scrapbooks makes them unpredictable in their physical organization as well as their contents, their users, and their usefulness as an object. Depending on the creator and the original purpose of a scrapbook, archivists and conservators can approach preservation differently.

The afternoon session was led by Beth and took a more technical turn. As a conservator rather than an archivist, Beth’s primary goal is to understand the needs of the materials and how best to preserve them. As an archivist, Katie’s concern was use, access, and content. I learned quite a bit from Beth as she highlighted specific standards when buying supplies, gave quick and easy tutorials for housing best practices, and highlighted treatment options for the myriad materials you may find in a scrapbooks (including hair, teeth, and candy!). The end of the day gave people a chance to show Beth scrapbooks they brought in for the workshop. We all had a chance to talk about best practices, but also took into consideration realistic barriers like time, budget, and space. Although it would be ideal to have a conservator like Beth to look at and recommend preservation for each of the scrapbooks in our collections, this workshop also taught us that doing our best is better than doing nothing.

As Wake Forest’s University Archives has many scrapbooks, as well as significant scrapbook holdings in our manuscript collections, I found this workshop quite helpful. As always, professional development opportunities leave me with two thoughts: “We’re not the only ones who have weird stuff” and “The answer to many archival questions is ‘it depends’.” Many thanks for the opportunity to attend this workshop!

Rebecca at RBMS LV

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 3:52 pm

Last week, I traveled to Las Vegas to attend the ACRL Rare Book and Manuscript Section (RBMS) pre-conference. The theme “Retrofit: Exploring Space, Place, and the Artifact in Special Collections” seemed to fit the location perfectly. The fact that it was the 55th RBMS (roman numeral LV) is perhaps the reason that this was the most attended RBMS pre-conference to date, or maybe people just wanted to go to Las Vegas. Either way, the conference was a great success in terms of attendance as well as powerhouse plenaries and jackpot panels.

Day 1 included a fascinating Plenary session titled “Book as Archive” featuring Brian Schottlander of The University of California, San Diego and Andrew Stauffer, an English professor from the University of Virginia. Schottlander discussed the broad reach of digitization projects, but also warned about the sometimes confusing and inconsistent results one gets when searching for digital content. He urged that metadata *is* the interface and searches across platforms including ArchivesGrid, OCLC, DPLA, and Google provided varied results. Andrew Stauffer’s presentation discussed “common” 19th century books in the circulating collections at University of Virginia. His discovery of marginalia emphasized the need for researchers to consider the historical book as a physical interface. The 19th century turned the corner on mass production and ownership of books, allowing many more people (including women) to own and interact with books at an intimate level. The problem today is that these books are too common and not considered “rare” based on their widespread availability in most libraries. With large scale digitization projects replacing physical with adigitized copy of a 19th century book, many of these books get weeded. Stauffer argues these books are more than printed test, they are also artifact and interface. Stauffer has put together what he calls a 1.0 version of a project that might help record unique and research worthy markings in otherwise common books called Heconsiders this a low barrier entrance into examining the non-rare books in our libraries. I found this plenary fascinating and the discussion that followed was lively.

Other highlights from Day 1 included a regional discussion and breakout session for people from the South. I joined the discussion group on regional identity and networking specifically to help inform me for my work as SNCA representative on SAAs Regional Archival Associations Consortium. We had a great discussion about networking and awareness of regional collections. I also ran into my past supervisor from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division, so it was a great chance to network and reconnect!

Day 2 was kicked off with an exciting Marketplace Plenary during which Michelle Light of UNLV flipped the monetary model for digitization. Light stressed that we as a profession spend too much time policing use of digital content rather than embracing the fact the “commercial” users tend to reach a larger audience. She touched upon the point that some of the profession’s practices of copyright permissions and monetary charges could be not quite legal. Although Light’s discussion of UNLV’s digitization business model may be a bit larger than we experience here at WFU, I intend to explore further UNLV’s new policies and procedures to see how we might be able to make some changes.

I presented on a panel along with Sara Logue of Emory University’s MARBL and Ronald Patkus of Vassar College. Our panel focused on “Space and Renovation” and got a very good turnout. As you can imagine, we are not alone when it comes to old buildings and space issues. The conversation was great after our presentations and the questions continued long after the allotted time. It was a valuableexperience and I would be happy to share my paper with anyone interested in reading it.

Other presentations that sparked my interest included Tom Hyry’s paper on the Susan Sontag born digital collection. Did you know Susan Sontag sent an email with the subject “Whasssuuup?” Elizabeth DeBold of Duke University presented on the Religion in North Carolina project, of which WFU is apartner. Yale University’s bookplate collection was the subject of Molly Dotson’s paper. She is using the bookplate collection to bridge the research of art students researching both design and historical aspects of design. I very much enjoyed this presentation and would love to think of more creative ways to integrate our collections into curriculum.

I found this conference a wonderfulexperience for idea sharing and networking. I would love to discuss further any of these points or other experiences I had on this trip. Thank to all who made my attendance possible, it was a great opportunity.


SNCA, Secrest, and a New Finding Aid!

Thursday, April 10, 2014 11:15 am

Marcel Marceau materials from the Secrest Artists Series collection

On Monday, Vicki Johnson and I presented at the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) Conference on the Secrest Artists Series. Our theme, like that of the SNCA conference, was on community engagement and connections. We used the Secrest Artists Series, and the archival collection for the series, as an example of holdings in Special Collections and Archives that has a great deal of potential to bridge the gap between Special Collections, campus, and the Winston-Salem community. With the retirement of the long time director of the series, Lillian Shelton, Special Collections and Archives acquired a large archives of the Secrest Artists Series and began processing. Shortly after Lillian’s retirement, Marion Secrest passed away prompting community interest in the series and the collection. Special Collections and Archives made the Secrest Artists Series collection a processing priority for patron use, community outreach, and digitization. We have completed the processing and are pleased to have the Secrest Artists Series finding aid available for researchers and people interested in the series! Like the series itself, this collection is an amazing testament to the arts and Wake Forest’s commitment to bringing world-class performers to campus. Many attendees of our SNCA presentation showed interest and suggested ways to connect this collection to the greater Winston-Salem arts community. I enjoyed SNCA and appreciate the opportunity for Vicki and me to showcase such a great collection.

Rebecca at Archival Discovery & Use Pre-Conference

Monday, March 31, 2014 5:04 pm

Last week, Chelcie Rowell and I traveled to Raleigh for the Code4Lib Pre-conference focused on archival discovery and use. I found this to be a very enjoyable and thought provoking day of discussion and idea sharing. Led by Tim Shearer from UNC Chapel Hill and Will Sexton from Duke, the format of the pre-conference was focused talks rather than presentations. The room was broken up into groups such as digitization, outreach, assessment, description, and access. I joined the description group and saw many familiar faces that I have followed professionally.

The morning session began with the provocative statement “Why I hate finding aids.” Each group discussed the pros and cons of this statement and presented their groups opinions at the end. As you may imagine, my description group *loves* finding aids and found this statement to be an insult to the very core of archival practice and foundation. Although we defended finding aids, there was discussion of lack of uniformity both within institutions as well as across archives. Bibliographic description has such a structured input, but that structure is still not established in archival description. Our group felt that although there are things wrong with finding aids including authority control, archival jargon, and access points, the archival foundation of provenance and respect des fonds leave the finding aid as a concept our only option of description as of now.

Another provocative statement made to prompt our breakout group discussions pertained to digital collections content grouped together in something like an exhibit versus within the context of a finding aid or the original order of the collection. Again, my group made up of mostly “description” archivists emphasized the need for archival context in a digital world. So many times researchers are “dropped” into a digital collection and find something “cool” but they don’t always realize that it is part of a larger, and most times, richer archival collection. We hope that with new archival software such as ArchivesSpace and linked data, digital collections will have the infrastructure and the metadata to be more closely connected with the creator and archival collection.

After Chelcie’s suggestion of a delicious lunch at a place calledBeasley’s Chicken and Honey (Go there. Seriously.) we returned to a more presentation based format. The topics included ArchivesSpace and crowdsourcing. I enjoyed the afternoon sessions with the theoretical implementation of ArchivesSpace juxtaposed with actual crowdsourcing projects, big and small. I must say, I enjoyed this pre-conference very much and found that the format was the best part. It is rare to sit at a table with colleagues you respect and who are doing amazing things in your field and just get to talk, and share stories, and brainstorm. Thank you for the opportunity!


Rebecca at the Modern Archives Institute

Monday, February 17, 2014 4:28 pm
Archives I

Archives I

Recently, I had the great pleasure of attending the Modern Archives Institute (MAI) at the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) in Washington, DC. This was a two week intensive archival training course covering all aspects of archival work. Held twice a year (January and June) the MAI session I attended was the 115th. With thirty two attendees from all over the United States, this was a tremendous learning experience for all of us. The format was mostly lectures by professionals in the field as well as some tours, hands-on exercises, and plenty of time for discussion. Although we all had a wonderful time and saw some really cool stuff, priority number one was learning as much as possible.

Reading materials

Reading materials

The first week was spent at “Archives I” which many of you may know as the main NARA building in downtown Washington, DC. We were guided throughout the two week course by the amazing Mary Rephlo and welcomed the first morning by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. We had roughly eight hour days of lectures on topics including: introduction to archives, overview of records management, appraisal & acquisition, arrangement & description, archival management, grants, and archives & law. We were lectured by leaders in the field with years of experience. I cannot express how grateful I am to have been able to sit in on the first week of lectures and would be happy to discuss each and every one further.

Archives II

Archives II


Week two appropriately kicked off with two days at “Archives II” in College Park, Maryland. For our class, Archives II was all about non-textual materials. We attended lectures on and took tours of: preservation, conservation, cartographic records, photographic records, A/V media preservation and reformatting, and electronic records.

One of many Preservation labs at Archives II

One of many Preservation labs at Archives II

These sessions were invaluable in addressing the much messier, confusing, and sometimes un-readable materials that lurk in archival collections.

Obsolete media

Obsolete media


We continued our week at Archives I with an immersion day into education, access, exhibits, and reference. As you can imagine, like so much of what we learned at NARA, the scale they work on is slightly larger than what we do here. It was inspiring to see, however, how important of a priority they make these aspects of archival management. As well as one arranges, describes, and preserves the records, they mean nothing if no one knows about them, uses them, or sees them.

Archives I Rotunda

Archives I Rotunda


We spent our penultimate day at the Library of Congress where the Manuscript Division hosted our visit. We had a very inspiring presentation by Laura Kells and Meg MacAleer, two processing archivists, titled “The Truth Behind Original Order: Or What To Do If A Collection Shows Up In Garbage Cans.” Although the LC Manuscript Division is also working on a scale far larger than ZSR, it was great to hear from two archivists who are working with personal papers and manuscript collections rather than large government record groups.

Original manuscript of Rhapsody in Blue

Original manuscript of Rhapsody in Blue

As you may imagine, we got to go on some pretty cool tours at the Library of Congress. Both the Music Manuscript Division and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division pulled out some treasures to show off to us gawking visitors.

Draft of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music

Draft of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music

The Lincoln Bible!!

The Lincoln Bible!!

Woodrow Wilson's Nobel Peace Prize (that's my hand)

Woodrow Wilson's Nobel Peace Prize (that's my hand)


After picking ourselves up off of the floor of The Library of Congress, we spent our last day back at Archives I discussing ethics and ongoing professional issues. It was a bittersweet day for our group knowing it was all over but we were excited to get back to our institutions to use the knowledge we had acquired. I am inspired by all of the professionals I met on this trip and equipped with information and a solid network of people to turn to with questions. I am confident that each and every lecture I attended will inform the work I do here at ZSR and will impact the Archives positively. Thank you to everyone here who made it possible and to my teachers and cohort in Washington, DC. This was a once in a lifetime experience! I would be happy to talk anyone’s ear off about the minute details I have written in my notes and floating around in my head.


Rebecca at CurateGear 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014 9:32 am

On Wednesday, I traveled to Chapel Hill with Tanya and Chelcie to attend CurateGear. It was a very enjoyable day and I learned a lot about software and services that are available. I want to add to Tanya’s post by discussing some of the most interesting things I heard about during the day.

As part of my work, I manage the web archive for ZSR. We subscribe to ArchiveIt, a service through the Internet Archive, so I was excited to see and talk with Lori Donovan. Lori has been a point person for our work. She was demoing ArchiveIt for potentially new customers, but I did have a chance to speak with her about tackling the ever changing arena of social media captures. She described that ArchiveIt is working on “headless browsers” to better capture social media sites. This was good news to me and a very exciting development for web archiving!

I also briefly sat in on a discussion of ArchiveSocial, another web archive tool. I had seen a presentation about this at SNCA and was excited to hear more. The State Archives is successfully using this tool to wholly capture social media outlets of government officials as mandated by law. This software requires the login and passwords of the social media accounts in order to capture (and display) everything related to the account, including direct messages. This tool is great for the State Archives because of the nature of public records and transparency, but I don’t believe we’ll be implementing it here anytime soon.

Finally, I was very excited to hear from Brad Westbrook about ArchivesSpace, a new software that is merging Archivists’ Toolkit and Archon. This has been a very exciting and talked about development in the archives world. Brad did a brief demo showing both the user and back end experiences of the new software. Much of it was similar to Archivists’ Toolkit, but there were certainly more changes to come and some lingering questions as the development continues.

I must say, I found CurateGear a valuable experience and it certainly stretched my understanding of some tools and technology. I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend and look forward to using all that I learned here at ZSR. If anyone would like to talk more about my experience, I’m happy to!


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