Meet your Development Chair: Hugh O’Connor

Hugh O'Connor photo

What jobs have you had in the archival realm?
I started out as a Library Associate at Hill Memorial Library Special Collections at Louisiana State University. They placed me in the microfilm department where I spent most of my day in a dark room photographing historic newspapers on an old pedal-operated Kodak microfilm camera. I would end up running the microfilm processing department and engage in a neverending battle of wills with the microfilm batch processor. After my time at Hill, I was hired to curate a comic book exhibit at the LSU Student Union Art Gallery. This turned into six years of cataloging and archive work on the gallery records along with exhibit design and curation. Designing and mounting gallery exhibits remains one of my favorite work experiences I have ever had.

My next job was as a Documents and Reference Librarian for the Louisiana Department of the State Library of Louisiana. After we moved to North Carolina, I was hired as the Archives & Special Collections Librarian for Queens University of Charlotte, a position that I have held for two years.

What is your educational background?
I received my Master's in Library & Information Science from LSU in 2009. Before that, I received my B.A. in Psychology from LSU in 2003.

What is your favorite part of your job and what do you consider to be the most important part of your job?
My absolute favorite part of the job is interacting with the students
and the community. I love walking into a classroom and helping students
understand what an archive is and how it can be a resource for their
academic career as well as their broader interests.

Tell us about something you're particularly proud of from your job or your institution.
I collaborated with English professor Sarah Creech to create the Queens
Story Oral History Project. Inspired by NPR's StoryCorps model, Sarah
brought me in to help record the institutional memory of Queens from
faculty and staff who have 20+ years of service at Queens. We were able to record over nineteen hours of interviews with fifteen individuals. Not only did this project help fill in a gap in the archival record, but it also captured the invaluable perspective of faculty and staff.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
Don't be afraid to reach out to someone in the field and ask questions.
Putting yourself out there can be difficult and scary but we've all been there and archivists help each other, especially when its the next generation.

Who has been key to shaping your professional outlook?
I have learned something from every position and institution I have
worked at. Each place has been a learning experience for me so it's
really a culmination of people and places rather than a singular person.

What do you hope to accomplish during your time in SNCA leadership?
Well, it's kind of like what my mom always taught me to leave things better than you found them. This is a new experience for me in my career and I wanted to challenge myself to bring something to the table. Plus, I just ordered this cape and scepter that I've been dying to wear in public and this seemed like a great opportunity to do so.

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