How did you end up in the Archives, and did you think you’d be an archivist?
While in library school (GSLIS /the i-school) I thought I wanted to be a children’s librarian, but then in a practicum I discovered that I did not like working with kids who misbehaved without parents present. At the same time I had a Graduate Assistantship with the Student Life and Culture Archives and liked processing but also enjoyed doing research for reference questions. Ironically, I believe I was hired for the GA position because I had been in a sorority, which turned out to be my least favorite part of being an undergraduate at Elmhurst College.
What are your responsibilities? How has your work changed over the past almost 20 years?
I have much more responsibility than I’ve ever had. In the 20 years I’ve been here, the Archives has expanded exponentially in the amount of records and staff at our locations. More materials and staff means more work in all aspects of Archives. I lead the reference and administrative operations for the Main Library Archives location within the University Archives. We help visiting and remote researchers from all over the world every day. Topics I’ve personally helped with include historical enrollment statistics, identifying an Arabic manuscript, Illinois farming lesson tours across the country by train, and the experiences of Japanese American students during and after WWII. The Japanese American experience resulted in an exhibit currently running at the Spurlock Museum on campus.
What has been your funniest/strangest/most memorable or satisfying experience at the Archives?
Finding a jar of soil, with the former University Archivist, in an Archives box related to Agriculture records.
What would you like people to know about the Archives (or University history) that may surprise them?
I suspect many believe all we have is University history and they would be right, but we have so much more! We have records that involve groundbreaking research and new inventions. We are rich in records from science, engineering, and agriculture. With the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, we also have an abundance of University Band and music materials from around the world. I would love for us to acquire more records from the College of Fine and Applied Arts involving material art, drama, theater, and architecture.
The University of Illinois Archives has officially re-opened to the public. Our new location, room 146 Main Library is open and ready for visitors. The new location is easy to find and features a large brightly lit reading room, all new furniture, new wireless networking, and outlets at every table.
Over the next few months, we will be working on all the procedural, operational, and technology adjustments that come with any new space.
However, for the moment, contrary to all the naysayers, it has happened, we have moved, and an architect just told me only “Only two years from the program design report to opening day–that’s a land speed record.”
So, come see for yourself, and if you cannot visit sunny Urbana (err, well we have actually moved across the city line even though the zip code is the same), look at the moved-in photos available at the following URL.
It was days like October 8, 2012, when undergraduate researchers and campus scholars crowded our long-superseded reference room, that helped us define the kind of space we wanted to have created for University Archives’ users.
Stay Tuned! Daily Updates on the progress of the move, including new photos, will be added starting May 21!
In 1963 the University of Illinois Archives opened its doors to the public. For 52 years the basement of the Main Library Building has been our home and it has served our needs well, but as the collections grew and as ever more students and scholars came to use the Archives, Room 19 became too cramped and unsuitable for our users. For the past three years, the archivists and the Library’s Assistant Dean for Facilities have been working to create a space more fitting to the Archives’great collections and users.
On May 21, 2015 the University of Illinois Archives will begin to relocate its core collections and public service operations from the basement to the former Applied Health Sciences Library (room 146 Main Library).
The new home of the University Archives has been recently remodeled and outfitted with new equipment, large tables, improved wireless connectivity and expanded oversize storage. In addition to new equipment the remodel includes designated archival instruction and exhibit space as well as expanded stations for staff working with born-digital and digitized archives.
To ensure a speedy move our basement location (room 19 Main Library) will close its doors to the public between May 21 and May 29, 2015.