Project Management for Archivists

Kelly Spring, Access Archivist & Head of Digital Curation for the Special Collections Department at East Carolina University, has recently written a handbook, Project Management For Archivists: Befriending Your Backlog.

Stymied by the amount of material in your backlog? Wondering where to start? Project Management for Archivists offers simple, step-by-step instructions on taking control of your inventory. From archival accessioning to handling born-digital collections, the methods in this little handbook will help you systematically master your work. You will learn from a seasoned archivist and project manager how to create inventories, define baseline standards, and develop useful documents to track progress. Best of all, examples of checklists and workflows are included for easy reference. This is one resource that any archivist will want to keep close at hand.

You can find this little gem in ECU's institutional repository, The ScholarShip.

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Student Spotlight: Derek Whisnant

My name is Derek Whisnant. I’m currently a senior nearing the end of a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Spanish at UNC Asheville. Beginning my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to work as an assistant in UNCA’s Ramsey Library Special Collections. Over the past two years, I have been fortunate to work alongside Head of Special Collections Gene Hyde, and Assistant Archivists Colin Reeve and Ashley McGhee Whittle, each of whom have provided me with meaningful work, mentorship, and guidance. 

Derek Whisnant photo

stacks photoDuring my time working at UNCA Special Collections I was able to work on a variety of different projects which exposed me to various archival principles, thought processes, and considerations involved in archival work. The work I am most proud of at UNCA Special Collections was accessioning manuscript collections from two influential figures in Asheville’s history: E.W. Grove and F.L. Seely. Through working on these collections I learned a great deal about how to approach and think about organizing and cataloguing materials. I was able to work through the entire process, from ensuring proper storage in archival-grade materials, to various levels of description, writing scope and content summaries, and entering metadata into our archival software. It was a fulfilling experience to see boxes of materials go from their original donated condition to a fully accessible and organized format for use by the public in the future. I was also afforded opportunities to work on a few other research and writing projects, digitizing materials, and I have also started on a project with Gene which entails cataloguing repositories of archival materials relating to Southern Appalachia to be published as a resource in the Appalachian Curator newsletter in the near future. 

reading room photoSeeing the ways in which Gene, Ashley, and Colin enthusiastically participate in their professional circles, guide students in conducting research, fill information requests from the public, and contribute meaningfully to their school and larger community made me aware of the critical public service which archival work entails. When I started working at UNCA Special Collections, I had the intention of finishing my Psychology degree and moving into social work, therapy, or another public-facing application. Through this experience however, my plans have changed substantially. I intend to move towards an MLIS program after finishing my undergraduate studies at UNC Asheville with the hope of making information more accessible to more groups, particularly underserved communities. I am even more aware now of just how many ways a library and an archive participates in and supports its community, and I eagerly look forward to continuing my participation in such an effort.

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Meet your Member At Large: Courtney Bailey

Courtney Bailey headshotWhat jobs have you had in the archival realm?
During the summer between my years at SILS, I served as a Graduate Assistant in Technical Services at Wilson Library, processing the records of the UNC Athletics Department. Since June 2014, I have worked as a Records Management Analyst at the State Archives of North Carolina (SANC).

What is your educational background?
I have an undergraduate history degree and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Duke University. After many years teaching in a public high school in Durham, I decided I needed a new intellectual challenge, so I got an MSLS degree (with a concentration in Archives and Records Management) from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at UNC Chapel Hill.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
I love teaching workshops. Because of my teaching background, I’m definitely comfortable determining learning outcomes and designing content and presenting material. But I especially like the before and after times of workshops. If the room arrangement allows for it, I usually try to walk around the room before the workshop so I can greet participants individually and distribute handouts. I also try to hang around after the workshop to answer any questions that people didn’t want to raise in front of the entire group. I find these more informal opportunities to talk with folks are very useful in helping identify the roadblocks they’re encountering in carrying out their records management tasks and have helped spark a number of the resources I’ve developed over the years.

There are a lot of people tasked with records management in various government agencies who have no training or support to carry out these duties. Some work in tiny offices and some work in huge agencies, and the amount of resources available (both financial and human) varies tremendously. So I think a vital part of my job is readily answering questions – be it about public records requirements or how best to organize files – without ridicule or reprisal. This can take the form of anything from answering a question posted to a listserv to visiting a file room to appraise historical records.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
While working at SANC, I’ve had the pleasure of completing two huge scheduling projects. In 2015, a colleague and I in the Records Analysis Unit were tasked with revamping the records retention schedules for state agencies using the model of functional analysis. The beginning of the project involved a lot of research – both into the theory of functional analysis, into the handful of states that employed some flavor of functional schedules, and into the practical powers and responsibilities of state agencies around North Carolina. Once we’d identified what functions are fulfilled by state agencies, we then began writing retention schedules to specify the disposition of the various records being created and received by them. When my colleague left for greener pastures, I picked up the flag and completed the project for a December 2017 launch. Along the way, I had the pleasure of meeting with hundreds of stakeholders from state agencies and learning from them about the work they do and the records they manage. Although it hasn’t been without bumps, more than three years into the use of this functional schedule, I definitely consider it a success. Around the same time, I also started working with representatives from the UNC System campuses to update their decade-old retention schedule. Although I wasn’t able to meet in person with these stakeholders, the records officers with whom I work were able to connect me with folks who could answer questions and help me produce a much more reliable and up-to-date retention schedule.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
Get work experience by any means necessary. Coming from an academic background, I thought that grades and the prestige of the institution you attend matter on a job application, but what I’ve found in the archives realm is that work experience is what opens doors. So although you have to get the degree (because even most entry-level positions require a master’s degree), you need to make sure you spend time during grad school getting experience in the field in which you hope to work.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
In my training as a teacher, I learned that reflection is a vital part of improvement. I have found Scott Cline to be a voice in the archival literature that helps me think about why I’m doing the work that I do. Mark Greene played an even greater role in shaping my professional outlook. He consistently demonstrated in his articles and presentations a willingness to review and revamp archival practices rather than being cowed by the argument of “but this is how we’ve always done it.” When I was working on my master’s paper, Mark offered his time to assist me in my research about born-digital records. Of course, I had already read his seminal work on “More Product, Less Process,” so I was awed to have the opportunity to interview him. He spent nearly an hour on the phone with me discussing his work at the American Heritage Center and providing information on their policies and workflows for appraisal, processing, and access for born-digital records. I later had the opportunity to work with his wife, Kathy Marquis, and learned that helping new archival professionals was one of his greatest pleasures. Greene evidenced a passion, commitment, thoughtfulness, and creativity to his work, coupled with a desire to mentor others in the archival realm. I consider him a great model for how to do archival work well.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
I serve as the Member At Large responsible for being a liaison with the Regional Archival Associations Consortium that operates through SAA. As such, I’m responsible for passing along to SNCA members relevant information from our fellow regional organizations, such as conference announcements and releases of professional resources. But more importantly, I want to serve as a conduit for what works. All of us are too busy to reinvent the wheel, so I want to figure out what other organizations are already doing that could serve to heighten the relevance and impact of SNCA.

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Meet your Member At Large: Ashley McGhee Whittle

Aashley McGhee headshotWhat jobs have you had in the archival realm?
I first went to work in an Archival position when I accepted the Archives and Curatorial Assistant position at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I worked there for one year and then had the opportunity to return to work in the History Department at UNC Asheville, my Alma Mater. After a year as the Department Assistant, I then applied and accepted the position of Special Collections and Assistant Archivist in Ramsey Library's Special Collections at UNC Asheville.

What is your educational background?
I hold my BA in History from UNC Asheville. As an undergraduate I completed three internships and then a special project through a grant in Ramsey Library Special Collections. I am currently working on my MLIS with UNC Greensboro with an Archival concentration. Prior to obtaining my Bachelor's degree, I held my nursing license (LPN) in the State of North Carolina for ten years.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is two parts. First, I love processing collections. We hold some really unique collections at UNC Asheville, including several on environmental history and environmental groups in Western North Carolina.  I have a minor in environmental studies at UNC Asheville and am an avid outdoor junkie. One of my favorite collections to process was my special project as an undergraduate, where I processed the John Brown Lands Speculation Collection and worked with documents and maps dating from the early 1700s! I also got to work directly with the donor, which left a lasting positive impression on me. I also love getting into the history and stories from these collections–they are so interesting! Second, my other favorite part of my job is teaching the undergraduate students that we have throughout the semester. We often have several History, Literature, and First-Year classes where we teach classes of students everything from a basic introduction to Special Collections and researching primary sources, to the History of Urban Renewal in Asheville. This is also what I consider the most important part of my job–teaching the importance of this material to our undergraduate students and helping them make discoveries within these collections. It's also nice when students become so interested in Special Collections that they then decide to complete an internship with us and after "drinking the Archival Kool-Aid" make the decision to go on and become an Archivist.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
I am particularly proud of several things–but two of the most recent things that come to mind are that I had one History intern and one student worker who is majoring in Psychology last year who have both decided to get their Master's in Library Science and go to work as Archivists. I worked directly with and helped mentor both of these students, and I am so excited that they have decided to become Archivists! Second, I was able to connect with the Environmental Studies Department on campus last semester, and we hosted our very first Environmental Class in Special Collections. This class was on Environmental Restoration, and we were able to connect students with various collections to help with their semester long projects on restoring environments in Southern Appalachia. COVID interrupted our in-person classes with them, but I'm hopeful that we will be able to collaborate more with this Department in the future!

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
Find a mentor! Having a mentor in this field is key. They can help guide you in all aspects of getting into an Archival career, from internships, to education, to jobs. And when you are taking classes at the Master's level, take as many related to exactly what you want to do–for example, I am taking most of my classes for my MLIS related to Special Collections and Archives. Making connections are key in this field!

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
I have had three significant mentors since I returned to school and obtained my Bachelor's degree and then went to work in the Archives. The first was Dr. Ellen Pearson in the History Department at UNC Asheville. She was the mentor who made me realize how successful a woman can truly be–and this was significant for a first-generation, Southern Appalachian woman returning to college at a non-traditional age (I was 29 when I returned to school). Second was Dr. Daniel Pierce, also of the History Department at UNC Asheville. He was the mentor who made me realize that what I had to say was important, both in class and in the World, and that because I was a native Appalachian and a woman, my voice was more important than ever. Finally, Gene Hyde, Head of Special Collections at UNC Asheville. Gene mentored me as an undergraduate but does even more now as my supervisor and colleague. Gene has improved both my writing and speaking skills, he continues to help me develop my Archival skills and encourages my educational endeavors, and he challenges me on a daily basis regarding what I believe and what I have to say, always wanting to know the rationale behind my reasoning. He has not only made me a better Archivist, he has made me a better human being.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
My plan as Member-at-Large, new professional/student member, is to continue to cultivate the connections SNCA has with colleges and universities across North Carolina. I also hope to continue to add to these connections and have started working on adding contacts from some of the smaller and/or private colleges and universities across the state. The future of SNCA belongs to the up and coming young Archivists just entering the field, and I consider it part of my responsibility in this position to ensure that SNCA is here to support these budding Archivists in all their educational and archival endeavors.

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SNCA Executive Board Statement on Black Lives and Archives

The Executive Board of the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) stands in support of our Black colleagues, friends, and communities.  We believe Black Lives Matter.  We condemn racism and police brutality.

We support the statements issued by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) https://www2.archivists.org/statements/saa-council-statement-on-black-lives-and-archives and the National Council on Public History https://ncph.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/NCPH-Statement-on-the-Killing-of-George-Floyd.pdf. We call on the North Carolina archival community to reaffirm and commit to dismantling white supremacy and structural racism in archives, and beyond. As a profession we often collect, preserve, and disseminate collections created by marginalized peoples, organizations, and communities.  We must center oppressed standpoints through an ethic of care and privacy.  As the Council of SAA stated, we urge our community to support, learn, and boost “Black-led archival documentation efforts and memory-keeping organizations as we continue our collective effort to repair the legacy of structural racism and acts of state-sanctioned violence.”

What can we do as archivists to help effect change? We need to stop thinking of our institutions as passive, neutral spaces that document history and examine how our institutions fail to advance equity and justice.* Please consider reading and sharing these resources with your colleagues:

The Executive Board of the Society of North Carolina Archivists

June 3, 2020

 *Paraphrased from “The University Libraries’ Role in Reckoning with Systemic Racism and Oppression: A message from Vice Provost for University Libraries and University Librarian Elaine L. Westbrooks.” (https://library.unc.edu/2020/06/the-university-libraries-role-in-reckoning-with-systemic-racism-and-oppression/)

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Maggie Murphy Named as Library Journal’s 2020 Movers and Shakers — Educators

Contributed by Hollie Stevenson-Parrish

Maggie Murphy headshotMaggie Murphy, first-year writing, visual art and humanities librarian and assistant professor for UNC Greensboro’s University Libraries, has been named as one of Library Journal’s 2020 Movers & Shakers — Educators. With this recognition, Murphy joins a distinguished group of librarians that are creating strategies to make libraries more inclusive for everyone while implementing ground-breaking approaches to literacy, learning, and teaching. Movers & Shakers is sponsored by Baker & Taylor and SAGE.

In 2019, Murphy launched the “Uplifting Memes” project in an effort for students in all disciplines to think about art and visual media as sources of information along with textual information sources. Participants learned about copyright and public domain, visual rhetoric, and more.

The project is the recipient of the 2019-2020 University Libraries Innovation and Program Enrichment Grant, and it is aimed at connecting students with library resources and spaces. At the same time, “Uplifting Memes” addresses critical, intersecting literacies that help students develop “transformative life skills necessary to be informed and engaged in society” and navigate “digital resources and content” (UNCG University Libraries Strategic Plan, 2018-19) through the theme of memes. Other University Libraries’ collaborators to the “Uplifting Memes” project include Brown Biggers, systems programmer, and Jenny Dale, information literacy coordinator and associate professor.

“Part of what makes this project so noteworthy is that it brings together information and visual literacy skills with a core focus on students as information creators,” said Dale. “Maggie has breathed new life into our information literacy program.”

Murphy holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Rutgers University and a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College. Prior to joining UNCG, she served as a reference and instruction librarian at Georgia Highlands College, a visual resources curator at Queens College-City University of New York, and an evening and weekend reference librarian at St. Francis College.

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COVID-19 archival collecting efforts, part 2

Continuing the effort begun last week, here are additional examples of documentation of the pandemic that are being collected by SNCA organizations.

Erin Allsop of Central Piedmont Community College:
https://www.cpcc.edu/about-central-piedmont/college-archives/coronavirus-stories 

Donna Kelly of the State Archives of North Carolina: personal accounts, photographs, recordings, oral histories, journals, and diaries produced by people of all ages: https://archives.ncdcr.gov/researchers/your-story-north-carolina%E2%80%99s-story. SANC has also provided appraisal guidelines to local and state government agencies.

Katie Howell of UNC Charlotte: https://library.uncc.edu/contribute-your-stories-covid-19-outbreak plus she was interviewed for The Academic Archivist blog of the College and University Archives Section of SAA and talked about the archival response to crisis and tragedy

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Imagining Better Futures in Archival Labor

Flyer for 2020 SNCA Keynote Address, May 19 at 1:00 p.m.
Dorothy Berry: Imagining Better Futures
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COVID-19 archival collecting efforts

Here is the first installment about what SNCA organizations are doing to collect materials related to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The list includes the contributor, institution, and a link to further information.

Libby Coyner from Elon University:
https://www.elon.edu/u/news/2020/04/27/elon-launches-living-in-a-time-of-covid-19-campuswide-archive-project/

Tanya Zanish-Belcher from Wake Forest University:
Deacon Experiences: COVID-19 Documentation Project https://zsr.wfu.edu/special/collections/archives/covid-19/

Jessica Cottle from Davidson College: (Re)Collecting COVID-19: Davidson Stories. A blog post on their early collecting efforts can be read here.

Amy McDonald from Duke University:
Duke University Archives https://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/uarchives/transfer/documenting-covid19/ and Duke Medical Center Archives https://archives.mc.duke.edu/documenting-covid19

Thanks to Amy McDonald for encouraging the start of this series. We look forward to sharing more resources as they are submitted.

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Promotions at Wake Forest University

Contributed by Tanya Zanish-Belcher

There have been several promotions at the Special Collections & Archives at Z. Smith Reynolds (ZSR) Library at Wake Forest University.

  • Stephanie Bennett headshotStephanie Bennett is the Collections Archivist for Wake Forest University, and she was promoted to Associate Librarian. She holds a BA in English from Wake Forest University and an MSLIS with a concentration in Archives Management from Simmons College. Bennett worked previously at Iowa State University's Special Collections and University Archives and Boston College's John J. Burns Library. Prior to earning her archives degree, Bennett worked as a research analyst at two corporate research firms. She is an active member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, the Society of American Archivists, the Society of North Carolina Archivists, and the Midwest Archives Conference.
  • Craig Fansler headshotCraig Fansler is Preservation Librarian at ZSR Library of Wake Forest University, and he was promoted to Librarian. He holds an MLIS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, a Master of Science in Management from Troy University and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from East Carolina University. Craig has restored books and built protective enclosures for archival materials for 24 years. He is currently involved professionally with the Guild of Book Workers and the North Carolina Preservation Consortium. Craig frequently teaches book repair workshops across North Carolina for the North Carolina State Library.
  • Ashelee Gerald Hill headshot

    Ashelee Gerald Hill is a Processing Archivist at Wake Forest University and was promoted to Assistant Librarian. She received her BA in Anthropology from Howard University in 2012 and most recently received her MLIS from the University of North Carolina Greensboro in May 2019. She fills her role as Processing Archivist at Wake Forst University by working primarily with accessioning university records and outside donations from affiliated organizations. Her research experience includes born-digital records management and digital oral history access and usability. She is also serving as Member-at-Large for the Students and New Archives Professionals Section of the Society of American Archivists.

 

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