Contributed by Karen Feeney
The SNCA Development Committee is excited to announce that Aaron Smithers is the 2018 Thornton W. Mitchell Service Award recipient. The purpose of this award is to recognize outstanding service to the archive profession in North Carolina by promoting cultural institutions, preserving resources, providing leadership, training, or mentoring new members in the field.
Aaron is the Southern Folklife Collection Assistant at Wilson Library Special Collections at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In his work with the Southern Folklife Collection, he has used his extensive knowledge of the collection to lead outreach programs and exhibit initiatives that draw diverse groups of visitors. He is adept at bringing together different collections and fostering partnerships that provide a fuller understanding of exhibits and programs. One such undertaking is the Sounds of ‘68: Revolution in the Air exhibit at the Wilson Library. Bringing together materials from four separate UNC Libraries photograph collections, the Music Library, and the Southern Folklife Collection, Aaron has not only helped to tell the story of music in a pivotal year in the United States, but he has also managed to “promote public awareness and appreciation” for unique cultural institutions within the UNC Libraries.
In addition to his collaborative approach to archive exhibits, Aaron also fills the role of teacher when he supervises student assistants and provides mentorship to individuals accepted to the Southern Folklife Collection Audiovisual Research Fellowship Program. Preservation of cultural resources also plays a role in his daily work as he regularly performs conversion and preservation of audio/visual materials along with reference services and curation.
Aaron is a valuable member of the Wilson Library staff who uses his folklore discipline background to create distinctive exhibits that promote multiple collections that reach a wide variety of people. He is also able to provide new professionals with mentoring and training to assist them in their service to the profession while using his technology skills to preserve culturally significant audio and visual materials for future research and appreciation.