A Welcome to Rachael Acheson, Our Assistant University Archivist

Rachael Acheson began work as the Assistant University Archivist in SCUA on January 8, 2018. Her work will center around documentation of student life at ISU, including the collection of current and historical records from student organizations and  archiving University and student-run websites and social media pages with Archive-It. She will also assist with more general processing, outreach, and instruction.

In August 2016, Rachael earned her dual master’s degree in English (MA) and Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the University of South Carolina, where she concentrated on Archives and Special Collections, which allowed her to indulge both her fascination with rare books and textual studies along with discursive interests in transatlantic literature. While in her graduate program, Rachael taught freshman English courses and interned with the oral history and rare books departments. Rachael also had the opportunity to complete a number of amazing internships with the university libraries and local archives, including one that involved preparations to host a travelling exhibit from the Folger Shakespeare Library, which featured a First Folio.

Immediately before coming to ISU, Rachael worked in Cedar Falls, IA, where she completed a 10-month temporary assignment as the Special Collections and University Archives Librarian at University of Northern Iowa.

Here are a few fun facts about Rachael:

    1. She is currently very much out-of-practice, but she plays the harp and began college as a Harp Performance major. Mary Foss, the principal harpist of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra and also Adjunct Professor at ISU, Drake University, and Central College, was the first of her many excellent harp teachers. As a result, Rachael had the opportunity to attend an ISU masterclass with Catrin Finch, formerly the Royal Harpist to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, when Rachael had been playing for only five months. After serving as the principle harpist for her college orchestra for four years, Rachael also performed briefly with the Central Iowa Symphony.
    2. She has a pewter-gray cat named Sterling, who enjoys standing on her head in the early hours of the morning and watching tv.
    3. She is a huge nerd about children’s and Young Adult (YA) literature, collects illustrated editions of Frances Hodgson Burnett novels, and has met Maggie Stiefvater twice.
    4. She spent a large portion of her childhood in Iowa Falls, Iowa, and so has some history of her own with Ames and likes to think she is in the process of getting better acquainted with the state as a whole.

Rachael’s literary cat, Sterling, posing for the camera.

She is excited to be back in the area. We’re excited too!


A Welcome to Rosalie Gartner, Our Lead Processing Archivist

Rosalie Gartner on vacation last summer in Scotland (courtesy of Rosalie Gartner).

Rosalie Gartner joined the SCUA team on November 15, 2017 as the Lead Processing Archivist. She moved here from Boston, Massachusetts, where she has lived for the past 6 years. Originally from Colorado, she moved to Boston to attend Simmons College, where she earned her MS in Library Science with a concentration in Archives Management. After graduation, she worked at Emerson College for several years, doing everything from course instruction to processing to records management.  In her free time, she enjoys reading (of course), sewing, and traveling. Despite the extreme cold, Rosalie is happy to be here! And we are super ecstatic to have her here!!


Best wishes for Becky Jordan!

Becky Jordan, reference specialist in Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA), is retiring and today is her last day. Becky is an ISU alumna, and she has been with SCUA since she graduated in 1975! She worked in the Parks Library as a student and began work in SCUA right after graduation. If you’ve ever had a research request or visited the archives, it is likely Becky Jordan provided you with assistance.

You can read more about Becky in our Staff Pick! post from last summer.

Please join us in congratulating Becky on her much deserved retirement. We will miss her very much and wish her well!


Say “Hello!” to our new Audiovisual Preservation Specialist!

Rosie Rowe is the Audiovisual Preservation Specialist for Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA)  at Parks Library. Rosie has more than 20 years of experience in audiovisual fields and has worked extensively with the preservation of analogue and digital media formats. In her previous role as the Audiovisual and Film Specialist at Archives New Zealand, she was responsible for building and maintaining a new audiovisual lab, where they preserved more than 20TB of at-risk, historical media for the national archives.

She aims to provide similar guidance and preservation workflow to the film and audiovisual collections at SCUA. We are very pleased she is here. Please join us in welcoming Rosie!


New faces in Special Collections and University Archives!

A few weeks ago, Chris, Descriptive Records Project Archivist, introduced himself to our readers. Here are a few more new faces (as well as some old faces in new positions) at Iowa State University’s Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA).

Rachel, Outreach Archivist.

Rachel, Outreach Archivist.

Rachel is the new Outreach Archivist and has spent the last six years working in the Alaska & Polar Regions Collections & Archives (APR) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She spent two years working primarily in reference and processing collections, then moved on to catalog manuscripts and rare maps, work with donors and appraise potential donations, and organize presentations and exhibits that highlighted the collections and services of APR. Rachel received her MSLIS with an Archives concentration from Simmons College in January 2006 and spent her first two years out of school working as a reference librarian at a public library in Westminster, MA. Rachel’s superpower is she talks at the speed of light!

Amy, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist.

Amy, Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist.

Amy is the new Rare Books and Manuscripts Archivist. She started in this new position on October 19, but she’s already been at SCUA for a little over two years as a Project Archivist. You may have already read some of her blog posts, highlighting collections she has processed, or just those she thinks are cool. She came to ISU from the University of Illinois, where she received her MSLIS in 2013 and spent two years working as a Graduate Assistant at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Outside of work, Amy likes to dance. She has done ballet, jazz, clogging, Lindy Hop, Charleston, and most recently Scottish country dance.

Brad, University Archivist.

Brad, University Archivist.

Brad was named the University Archivist this past November. His new job didn’t take him too far from his old one as he has been a staff member of SCUA at Iowa State for over twelve years. During this time he was in a supporting role working mostly with University records and the film and media collections. Now as University Archivist, he is responsible for documenting the history of the University–an impossible task if not for the amazing work that the rest of the staff in the department does. Brad has lived in Iowa his entire life, growing up outside of Maynard in northeast Iowa. He is a graduate of Iowa State University (BFA 2000) and recently received his MLIS from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee.

 


An Introduction

Chris

Hello, folks. I’m Chris, and I’ve been working the Special Collections team since late August, 2015, so it’s about time I introduced myself.

My title is “Descriptive Records Project Archivist,” which makes sense once you know what I do here. In some respects, I’m just another cataloger—one of the people who creates and edits the bibliographic information that the public accesses via the ISU library system’s online catalog. On the other hand, I catalog selected resources from the holdings of the Special Collections and University Archives unit, a distinction which matters more than one might assume.

Before explaining that difference, here is a bio in a nutshell.

I was born in the dry heat of Palm Springs, California. When I was a boy, my family was unusually itinerant (which is a story in itself). All that moving around taught me to make my own fun, with or without other kids, so it was natural that I became a book-lover.

I earned a Bachelor of Arts in humanities with a minor in history at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. That’s where I got involved in special libraries and archives work. After a few years in the trenches, I got my MLIS (Master of Library and Information Studies) at UCLA, where I focused on informatics, especially music informatics.

My wife and I moved to Iowa in August, 2015 when she was offered a good job here. I knew little to nothing about Iowa (let alone Ames or ISU) before taking the plunge, but it’s been a real pleasure so far.

—Which brings me back to my job, and what makes it special. All cataloging is done to help people find, identify, select, and/or obtain information resources. But what if these information-seeking people have very different goals as to how they will use what they find? What if the resources themselves are fundamentally different from, say, mass-produced library books?

That’s where I come in. I have experience working with rare books, archival and manuscript collections, and “special” libraries of several kinds. This department wants to provide deeper description and documentation of its rare, unique, and unpublished materials. There are numerous ways we’re all working to increase awareness of, and access to, our collection. My contribution is to strategically catalog selected stuff that isn’t always well-represented in libraries’ traditional online catalogs. Because our subject matter is both narrower and deeper than that of Parks Library as a whole (academic libraries cover a vast range of topics), I have a terrific opportunity to learn about our specific “audiences,” how they use our resources, how and why we’ll preserve them for posterity, and so on. Doing all that requires embedding me in the department, where I share service desk duties, meet the full range of patrons, and engage directly with the team on a daily basis. In addition, I’m doing a survey of our collections to determine where we stand in terms of cataloging and documentation, and I’m redrafting some local procedures. In conclusion, “doing right” by SCUA’s patrons, collections, and staff involves both “digging in” and perceiving the “big picture.” (Pardon my mixed metaphors—what was that, three in a row?)

Best wishes until next time, Dear Readers. —Chris, Descriptive Records Project Archivist.



Archives in Five Words

The President of the Society of American Archivists, Kathleen Roe, recently called for archivists to come up with a 5 word phrase for engaging people in conversations about archives and archivists. Here at Iowa State University, we’ve decided to focus our five word phrases on why archives are important and what the ISU Special Collections Department can do for you.

Here are the options – vote for your favorites and/or add your own!


Special Collections bids farewell to Stephanie

Stephanie Bennett, ISU Project Archivist.

Stephanie Bennett, ISU Project Archivist.

Here is a special post to announce some exciting news.

A little over a year ago, Stephanie introduced herself and the two other project archivists to our readers. Now, Stephanie will be the first of us to leave ISU as she moves on to a new Collections Archivist position at Wake Forest University Special Collection and Archives. Congratulations, Stephanie!!!

Stephanie’s many contributions to the Special Collections department can be quantified in numerable ways—from processing almost 400 linear feet of archival collections, to greeting and assisting patrons over hundreds of hours at our public services desk, to composing more than 30 interesting and informative blog posts. But there are many other ways that Stephanie has contributed to the department over the last year-and-a-half that will be greatly missed: her quick wit, her enthusiasm, and her insights on all things archival.

Thanks for the laughs and for all the hard work, Stephanie! ISU will miss you *sniff*, but we know you will rock your next job!

Stephanie’s last day is tomorrow, so please join us in wishing Stephanie all the very best in her new endeavors in a warmer climate.


Celebrate American Archives Month

Special Collections staff hard at work, RS 25

Special Collections staff hard at work, date unknown, RS 25

Every October is American Archives Month – a time to celebrate the work of archivists and the physical and digital items that benefit from our care. There are as many ways to celebrate Archives Month (or #archivesmonth, on Twitter) as there are archival repositories. Larger archival institutions have a full range of activities to showcase their work. The National Archives and Records Administration profiles staff members and favorite items throughout the month on social media. Smithsonian Institute Archives covers its work through a number of virtual and in-person opportunities. Here at ISU Special Collections, we celebrate by working: accepting university records and donated materials relating to our collecting areas; working with donors; processing materials; answering questions from the wide variety of folks who enlist our help; educating students through tours and classroom talks; and providing access to our collections through our website and Reading Room.

The Society of American Archivists, our professional organization, is observing Archives Month, of course. The association president, Kathleen Roe, recently wrote a blog post and asked the question “Who have you met on your journey through archival records?” She posed her question in reference to people whom she met through the historical record – such as the faculty and staff, students, and alumni whose collections we hold.

Special Collections Open House

The Special Collections reading room and exhibit space in 1971, RS 25/3

But as I sit in the Reading Room with a researcher hard at work and one of our student workers making preservation reproductions, I think of the meaningful interactions and lessons that I learn from the living people that I interact with in and around the archives. For example:

  • Students of all ages, from middle school on up to retirees who are curious about something and have the time to pop in. And of course academic scholars from ISU as well as other institutions who seek the rare and unique information that we hold. Even the questions that they ask, about the archives or about their interests, teach me lessons about my work all the time!
  • Our student workers, who bring their perspectives and questions to work every week. It’s nice to hear what student life is like in 2014 when I’m used to fielding questions and handling materials that are often older than today’s students.
  • Donors who generously hand their memories, or their loved ones’ memories, over for care-taking. It is a privilege to assess a lifetime’s worth of accumulated materials and process them to allow others to benefit from all the knowledge within.
  • Colleagues who have fielded my questions, encouraged and mentored me, introduced me to other archives colleagues in their network, and so on and so forth through the six degrees of separation between me and Kevin Bacon. No, wait, between me and famed archivist Theodore Roosevelt Schellenberg.
  • Archivists of the wider world who I meet through graduate school, or at regional conferences, or at the SAA Annual Meeting – which was held with two other records-centric organizations this year. There is an unending supply of new people to meet, share stories with, and learn from.

Much appreciation goes out to all those who make our work as archivists possible – especially the archivists ourselves. You can celebrate American Archives Month by coming by to see our new exhibit on Homecoming, doing research, or checking out all the resources we have available through our [newly updated] website!