There have been some new faces around the Special Collections and University Archives department on the fourth floor of Parks lately. In fact, we have been here for almost three months, so it’s downright rude that we have not stopped in at the ISU Special Collections blog to introduce ourselves. Time to remedy that! Earlier this year, having said goodbye to our Head, Tanya Zanish-Belcher, in February and anticipating the departure of Collections Archivist Michele Christian in August, the department hired three Project Archivists.
The first of us to arrive on scene at the University Library was Whitney Olthoff, who became a member of staff in late July. In fact, Whitney has been here before; she is a 2009 alumna with a degree in psychology. From here, she went on to library school at Indiana University in Bloomington, where she specialized in Archives and Records Management and both worked and interned at the Indiana University Archives. As a student worker, she processed several collections, including the Indiana University Association of Women Students Records and about half of former IU president John W. Ryan’s papers. She also gained experience working with photographs, encoding in TEI and EAD, and creating exhibits and displays. During the interim period between graduating from IU and returning to ISU, she moved back home to the majestic cornfields of Iowa, mastered her cover letter writing skills, and worked part-time as a library assistant at the Ericson Public Library in Boone. Whitney is happy to be back at her alma mater and to be working in her first real grown-up job.
Second of the Project Archivists (the middle child, if you will) to arrive was Stephanie Bennett, fresh from Boston College’s John J. Burns Library. While at the Burns, Stephanie was part of a team that processed more than 400 feet of manuscript collections related to the city of Boston, including the papers of a professor and penologist, unfortunately known for a high-number of escaped prisoners under his watch; theater playbills from playhouses all around the world, dated 1850-2005; and the records of the New England Deaconess Hospital, one of many long-tenured medical establishments in the city. Prior to earning her graduate degree from Boston’s Simmons College, Stephanie lived in Washington, DC, and made a living as a research analyst for consulting companies. She hails from the coast of North Carolina, and in a Six Degrees of Separation move that would make Kevin Bacon jealous, has her undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, where former Head of the Special Collections Department, Tanya Zanish-Belcher, now works.
Last on scene at the University Library, but certainly not least, was Amy Bishop, who joined the Special Collections team in late August. Her move to Iowa was the latest in a series of determined attempts to remain in the frigid climes of the North while being paid for doing what she loves. After eighteen years in New Mexico, she made a bold move to reclaim her Midwestern roots by attending college in the frozen tundra of northern Wisconsin at Northland College. From there she moved on to Massachusetts where she landed her dream job in… accounts receivable. Well, that paid the bills, but Amy began volunteering at the Thoreau Institute Library at Walden Woods. That led her back to the Midwest, to Urbana-Champaign for graduate school in library science, specializing in special collections. As a graduate assistant at the University of Illinois’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, she processed the Combat Paper Project Collection – a group of records and art pieces from an art therapy organization developed by and for combat veterans – as well as an addition to the Marcel Proust papers. Much to her surprise, she fell in love with the Illinois cornfields, and so Amy happily moved up the Corn Belt to work at ISU, where she daydreams of snow-covered fields.
In short, though we’ve taken many paths to arrive here, we three are all pleased to join a great team in the University’s Special Collections. You’ll be hearing from us regularly through this blog, as we write about our profession and the collections available at ISU. If something piques your interest, stop by the Special Collections reading room on the fourth floor of Parks Library to seek our help regarding Iowa State’s many interesting records and papers. See you here!