Meet Kate Bradley, Archivist and Research Librarian at the Flagler Museum

by Karen Duhamel

Picture from “NEH-Funded Projects Completed.” Inside Whitehall 22, no. 3 (Summer 2015): 4.

Kate Bradley, Archivist and Research Librarian of Palm Beach, Florida’s Flagler Museum, came to cultural heritage, archives, and her current position through what she calls a “weird series of events” driven by a lifelong love of learning about history.  These events included the pursuit of a Bachelor of Arts in History and French from Skidmore College, a Master of Library and Information Science and a Master of Arts in History, both from Simmons College, as well as a stint as Director of Engagement and Special Collections for the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation.

Her experience with outreach and advocacy, however, has been much more straightforward.  As Director of Engagement and Special Collections, Bradley worked to fundraise for the organization, as well as plan programs and activities, honing skills which she brought with her to the Flagler, where outreach and advocacy are more complicated.  Unlike those of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, the Flagler Museum Archives are closed to the public, finding aids are not shared, and none of the collection is online, limiting Bradley’s interactions with the public.  Also complicating matters is the fact that museum has not prioritized outreach in the past.

“It’s hard,” she says, “when the institution in question hasn’t done much in the past.  You’re basically building it from scratch, and you might experience some pushback.”  Not to be discouraged, she advises “you have to understand that pushback, where they’re coming from and how to work through that to get to a point where you are bringing archives out more and showing it to more people and just getting more people interested in it.”  Bradley does this in a number of ways, promoting the archives to parties both inside and outside of the museum, starting with the fielding of traditional research questions and an expansion of the museum’s use of social media.

Beyond those questions and social media posts, Bradley starts with the museum’s docents.  As part of their training, Bradley introduces docents to the archives and talks with them about the collections she keeps secreted away, explaining how the collections are and can be used.  By keeping the docents informed, Bradley makes sure that they “better understand their roles” and are capable of sharing their knowledge of the archives and relevant history with museum visitors during tours.

A second critical group of stakeholders that Bradley targets within the internal structure of the institution is the museum members, which she does through the museum’s quarterly membership magazine.  In each issue of this magazine, entitled Inside Whitehall, Bradley includes an article relating to the archives.  These articles, which might be about a unique item that was found in the collection or about a research project that was undertaken to answer a research question or to help create an exhibit, allow members to see behind the curtain, as it were, and understand how their donations are put to use by the archives, and thus (hopefully) justifying the archives existence in the minds of members.

Bradley also does important work to help students understand what her archives, and archives in general, have to offer.  Firstly, at the Flagler, she meets with groups of visiting schoolchildren and explains what primary sources are and how to use them.  Secondly, Bradley works outside of the museum by taking part in National History Day. In the past, she has used her expertise in historical and archival methods to serve as a judge at the state and county levels of students’ historical works such as documentaries and papers, though she was unable to partake in this year’s programming.  Her involvement with National History Day allows her to share her “skills as an archivist and history professional to help these students grow in their own fields and understanding.”

The final outreach project that Bradley discussed was one has allowed her to bring items from the archives to the museum floor.  In order to draw further attention to unique items in the collections, beyond what Bradley has been able to articulate in her Inside Whitehall articles, she has worked to create so-called “pop-up exhibits” or “spotlight cases” within the museum proper.  These exhibits are small, thematic, and temporary (the current exhibits about Presidents Day and Valentine’s Day run through the first half of March), and are designed to “highlight pieces from [the] archival collection that really have never been seen before.”  It’s “really nice,” she says “because we’ve really been able to bring some stuff out that I think is awesome but nobody ever gets the chance to see.”

For more information on the Flagler Museum, visit  Also see the NEH 50 States of Preservation article on the museum at  To learn more about National History Day, visit

Meet Ginevra Morse, Director of Education and Online Programs at The New England Historic Genealogical Society

by Melissa Diberardino

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is hidden gem on one of Boston’s most famous streets. Nestled on the corner of Newbury Street and Clarendon, this eight story library and archive building is home to America’s first genealogical society and the largest non-profit genealogical society in the world. Founded in 1845, this massive research and historic center’s mission is, “to advance the study of family history in America and beyond, we educate, inspire and connect people through our scholarship, collections, and expertise.[1]” Currently, their website has 1.4 billion searchable names in their database and they are dedicated to not only uncovering ancestors and history, but they offer services such as how to interpret your DNA results and various classes. Along with their library and archive, there is a conservation and preservation lab on site, they produce publications, and in 2010 they partnered with the American Jewish Historical Society and now house the Jewish Heritage Center among many other outreach and advocacy partnerships.

After making my way over to the NEHGS, which unbeknownst to me was literally right around the corner from one of my part time jobs at the Boston Public Library, I sat down in a grand reading room surrounded by old texts and important looking portraits of older white gentlemen. It was here that I met Ginevra Morse, Director of Education and Online Programs at the NEHGS. Morse is a young vibrant professional in a world where most of their users are older, retired folks interested in a new hobby of family research. She came prepared with pamphlets and flyers as well as an extensively long program calendar. While I had done my basic research, I was unprepared for the amount of work and innovation happening at the NEHGS with the help and leadership of Morse.

Ginevra Morse gained her bachelor’s degree at McGill College in Montreal for religious studies and anthropology. However, her journey to get where she is now started at a young age. By 4th grade her interest in history and the world around her led her to become involved in and volunteer at a historical site in Exeter, NH where she grew up. Upon finishing her undergraduate degree, she landed her first job at a foreign language academic publisher in the marketing department. It was during this time she began gaining her outreach skills. It wasn’t long before she began creating webinars to reach teachers and educators and teach them about the best methods and practices in foreign languages. After four years there, Morse moved on to the NEHGS.

She began her career at the NEHGS in the publishing department where she would work on book production, design, and promoting. After three years in the publishing department, she moved to the education department where she resides today. In her current role, she oversees over 160 programs a year, from research tours to dedicated research projects, all across the country. They organize seminars on various topics and take archivists, researchers, and genealogists to locations around the country (and world) to other genealogical societies and historical societies. Locally they hold free lectures, author events, evening programs, seminars, workshops, webinars, and classes. In 2013, she helped launch their online learning center where they have free materials easily accessible to users.

The traditional user that comes in most often are those of retirement age who have started up their new hobby of collecting information and seeking out their family histories, aka amateur genealogists. Family genealogy has increased as a hobby as the information age has begun digitizing public records and other materials which makes finding out family information easier, including DNA kits. Most of these hobbyists that come into the NEHGS have already started their research and are considered at an “intermediate” level. However, new comers who have not begun their research are more than welcome, and encouraged, to come in and learn about the best of practices and ways one can start their research. While it is a genealogical society, it is also a historical society with many historical texts and materials; thus a good population of users are established historians and researchers.

More recently, Morse has been trying to reach a younger population by creating a new school program. The program, starting as young as 3rd grade to 12th grade, is very new and they are continually adjusting it to improve on. They offer programs such as “Family History Detectives”, “Archivist for a Day”, and “Genealogy 101” for older students. While students and educators may not seem like a non-traditional user to some archives, this demographic of people has been outside the scope that the NEHGS have focused on in the past.

Going further into the non-traditional archivists, I brought up the fact that we were sitting under the portraits of older, important looking white men in an institution that definitely feels more friendly towards those in power rather than those who have often been systematically taken out of Eurocentric history. She agreed that the idea that the collections held within the building are for the people who have been here (New England) forever, but that is not the case. They have partnered with the Jewish Society, they are actively trying to document immigrants and their histories, they have African American and Native American collections, as well as have expertise from Asian to Latin American history. There are a lot of misconceptions which Morse, as well as the NEHGS as a whole, have been trying to battle.

Upon ending our interview, I asked her if she had any advice for those out there in advocacy, outreach, and education. The most important advocacy and outreach she told me is networking. There is a mutual benefit when organizations work together and help each other out. You reach a wider variety of users and audiences and bring others together. Other tips were to keep your ear to the ground, keep up to date with popular culture and trends, see what is popular and try to figure out a way to incorporate that into your organization so that you grow with everyone rather than stay stagnate. By growing, you show that history is still alive.


Meet Sarah Burke Cahalan, Director of the Marian Library at the University of Dayton

by Emilia D’Agostino Pisani

The Marian Library is celebrating its 75th anniversary with events and exhibits throughout 2018. Events inspired by the Library’s rich musical holdings, feature a concert of medieval music interpreted for women’s voices and an early-music ensemble performance. An exhibit will document the history of the Marian Library honoring the founders’ vision and all of those who have served the Library. Another exhibit will feature materials from the Middle Ages to the present that will draw students and faculty from many disciplines throughout the University as well as theologians and scholars from around the world.

In 2016, Cahalan became the Director of the Marian Library that was established in 1943. The Marian Library and International Marian Research Institute (IMRI)  is a key component of the consortium of libraries at the University of Dayton; a Catholic university in Ohio that was founded in 1850 by the Society of Mary.

Cahalan realized she wanted to be a librarian while working in Harvard’s Weissman Preservation Center. She studied Folklore and Mythology as an undergraduate student.  After receiving her MSLIS from Simmons and a MA from the Courtauld Institute, she worked as a librarian at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington D C for about five years. She enjoyed public librarianship outreach opportunities and community engagement. She wasn’t actively looking for a new job when she saw the Marian Library posting. It looked intriguing, so she investigated further and decided to apply for the position.

Being Catholic informed Cahalan’s interest in the Marian Library but, she doesn’t feel that one has to be Catholic to work with Catholic collections. Rather, what matters is an interest in engaging with the tradition. She sees so much of the human experience in the collection, such as holy cards that are worn with use and garden plans devoted to the Virgin Mary. The Library also acquires materials from traditions beyond the Catholic experience, for example, documenting the frequent appearance of the Virgin Mary in the Quran.

Cahalan is a tenured faculty member who reports jointly to the Dean of University Libraries. She is responsible for strategic planning, budgeting, marketing and administration of the Marian Library resources and services. She partners with other faculty and staff in the University Libraries managing the special collection library that supports research on, and devotion to, the Virgin Mary. The Library’s multi-language collection includes over 95,000 books and pamphlets, a stamp collection, crèche collections, medals, postcards and works of art.

Cahalan looks for opportunities to integrate the special collections with academic programs.  She understands that people find the library even if you don’t do the work, but that doesn’t mean that you should rest on your laurels saying “See? We have patrons.” She believes that the work is in building new and creative connections.

The Library IT specialist regularly updates information about services, acquisitions, special events and exhibits on the University website. The information often stimulates discussions about how specific materials might be of use for a class. Presently there are three special collections collaborating in a one-credit semester-long class. Cahalan hopes that this initiative can continue or become a module that could be connected to classes in other departments. The Library has a good relationship with the Campus Ministry, which has been a collaborator for chapel exhibits and has used rare materials in prayer sessions.

There is nothing as valuable as personal relationships. A number of instruction sessions and longer-term projects have been scheduled because Cahalan had coffee with someone or served on a committee. She sees it as part of her job to speak up about how important the collection is to the life of the University; she knows that “sometimes you have to be a bit obnoxious”.

A challenge for a religious collection is connecting with patrons who may not be interested in the devotional elements of the collection. An ongoing task is to ensure that patrons can use the special collection for classes in graphic design, music, art history and other fields of study. There are even connections to health sciences, for those who might be interested in exploring the relationship between faith and the healing effects of praying for a patient before a medical procedure.

The success of Cahalan’s librarianship begins with her interest in the Catholic tradition. She meets the collection’s advocacy and outreach challenges with an unabated determination to promote the relevance of the collections by integrating them into the University’s academic programs.

Meet Tobie Cunningham, Associate Registrar of Collections and Exhibits at the National Cowboy Museum

by Natalie Kelsey

At the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK, Tobie Cunningham works hard to bring the rich and complex history of the West to new visitors. But her start in the cultural heritage profession started, like many of us, with a passion for history. She was a college sophomore studying fashion merchandising, only taking history classes as a hobby, when a history professor pulled her aside and complimented her research and writing. She decided to change her major, and was drawn to museum studies and decided to try it out. It was a perfect match and Tobie found her calling.

After a hiatus from the profession to care for her chronically-ill child, Tobie’s current boss reached out to her. Although the open position, Associate Registrar for Collections and Exhibitions, was a slight step down in responsibility, Tobie chose to take the job. This was 9 years ago, and Tobie found that she enjoyed the position because it allowed her to get back to the things she loves most about the profession.

The museum was first known as the Cowboy Hall of Fame, and indeed this is the name many people still know it by. It was established as a way to honor notable cowboys – performers and rodeo stars as well as working cattlemen and ranchers. Tobie explains that this aspect is still active, and the Hall inducts members each year in “The Western Heritage Awards,” a key event for the museum. When the Hall of Fame first opened, attendance was high and people began to donate material related to the American West. From those materials, the museum developed. Today, the museum has a professional staff of about 60 people and counting security, maintenance, grounds- and housekeeping, the museum employs approximately 130 people.

Indigenous cultures are also represented in the museum’s collections. Although it can be difficult to integrate the stories of indigenous people and cowboy settlers, Tobie acknowledges that providing a complete history of the region means working with these often uncomfortable truths. Tobie also acknowledges the difficulty of reconciling the museum’s original mission with other stories – stories of the black cowboy, the paniolos of Canada, the gauchos of Mexico, and women in general. She explains that to exclude these stories would be to exclude a large part of their target audience – younger people who want to see themselves and others reflected in the museum’s collections. 

When I asked Tobie to tell me more about the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, she said, “Ask your grandparents about it! They’ve probably heard of it!” This gets to the heart of the museum’s core demographic and, also, to the core of their outreach efforts. In order to bring in a younger audience, Tobie explains that the museum is now featured in ads on public radio and a local grassroots newspaper. They have also developed some new and different events that are geared more towards their target audience. Events like a monthly whiskey tasting and movie showings, free with the price of admission, have garnered a good response.These events generally draw about 50 people.

The newest event the museum offers is a summer camp for kids. The camp focuses on Western activities and children learn about life on the early Western frontier as well as the indigenous tribes of the area. Tobie says this takes full advantage of the museum’s resources to create a unique experience for the museum’s youngest patrons. Tobie’s own son participated in the first camp last summer and she said he and the other kids raved about the experience. Although the museum did not break even on the budget for the camp last summer, they are hoping that the great response will bring in more campers this summer. 

Although the museum faces funding challenges from the state, Tobie is hopeful that the future of the museum is bright. As new events bring in younger audiences, she hopes that it will free up time and funding to expand the museum’s collections.



Meet Bethany Fair, Archivist at the Vermont State Archives

by Julia Greider

Bethany Fair gets to do a little bit of everything in her job as Archivist II at the Vermont State Archives in Middlesex, Vermont. The state archives exists to serve the people of Vermont, and because it’s a government institution, all the records it holds belong to the public and legally must be accessible. Bethany most enjoys interacting with the myriad of patrons—ranging from legislators, to academics, to attorneys, to the general public—who come to the archives for information.

Bethany has found that the reference room is the locus of outreach and advocacy, because people with research needs are always grateful for prompt and thorough assistance. Attorneys form one of the archives’ main user groups, and the archivists spend a lot of time helping them trace the origins and development of laws. As a result, satisfied attorneys often refer their colleagues to the archives with similar requests. The archives also has strong relationships with other government agencies, which it serves not only by holding their records, but also by fulfilling their information requests.

However, Bethany says that the public often has a misconception of the state archives as a place that holds nothing more than old, boring government records that have little research value for today. Furthermore, people think that the government is trying to hide its records from the public—particularly the records of shameful pasts, such as the Eugenics Survey of Vermont, a program that many believe sterilized Abenaki Indians in the 1930s. Outreach can be a great way to dispel these false visions of the archives. For example, Bethany recently helped organize a lecture by a visiting undergraduate who was studying the eugenics program. She’s found that dark topics like eugenics tend to draw people in, and the program is an important part of Vermont’s history. Not only did Vermont Public Radio and NPR do interviews with the student who gave the talk, but there was also an impressive turnout for the talk itself, which then spurred attendees to come into the archives and find their ancestors in these records of the eugenics program. Bethany believes this experience showed people that the government isn’t trying to hide its actions of almost a century ago—in fact, all the evidence is sitting right in the state archives for anyone to see.

Bethany and her colleagues know their outreach has been successful when they get an increased number of researchers coming to them with questions. She’s fielded a wider variety of questions as a result of outreach efforts, because people have begun to realize that the state archives doesn’t only hold birth and marriage records (the usefulness of which should not be discounted, of course), but also the records of both wacky and weighty events of the past.

Because the state archives is funded directly by the Vermont legislature, any changes to the archives budget have to be approved as bills in the legislature. This means there isn’t much wiggle room in the budget, so there isn’t much money set aside for outreach. As a result, Bethany and her colleagues have to create ways to do outreach without a budget, which often means working on their own time and finding people who are willing to give lectures on a volunteer basis. Furthermore, the archives staff has to advocate to the state legislature to ensure that they get the resources they need. Beyond an awareness of public records laws, lawmakers generally have little sense of what the archives does. The archivists, then, must explain their role in the government and why their skill set fits them out best to deal with certain legal issues. However, Bethany says that she and her colleagues must not only advocate for their own institution, but also for what will be best for their patrons—what will provide the people of Vermont with the easiest access to government records.

When the legislature debates bills pertaining to the archives, anyone can testify before the assembly, and theoretically, this is when outreach and advocacy can really pay off. The archives constantly builds up strong relationships both within the government and with the public, meaning that if it were ever necessary, Bethany and her colleagues would have many allies in vocalizing the value of the archives to the state of Vermont. For now, they’re finessing their preservation of born-digital records and working on expanding their digitized holdings in the hopes of creating online exhibits that can reach an even broader public and expand opportunities for outreach and advocacy.

Meet Stephanie Noell, Research and Instruction Librarian at Savannah College of Art and Design

by Jennifer Skarbek

Stephanie Noell, a Research and Instruction Librarian at the Savannah College of Art and Design, has a diverse background that ultimately brought her into the academic library world.  With an undergraduate degree in philosophy, background in environmental philosophy and conservation, and 10 years of experience in theater, Stephanie found herself drawn to the Library and Information Science field through her undergraduate job in her university library.

While pursuing her MLIS degree, Stephanie decided to gain experience in multiple aspects of the field, and took courses in a wide range of subjects from cataloging to archives. Through her coursework, she was able to gain experience in the library world through volunteering in a fashion archives and working in a private publisher’s library in Seattle.

Stephanie was able to hone all of the skills and experience she had acquired to land her first official library job working in Reference at the University of Texas at Arlington, where she realized that she likes to focus on the user experience and customer service aspects of library work.  She next made the transition to special collections within the University of Texas at Arlington, and ultimately decided to take a position as an Art Librarian at Mountain View Community College in Dallas.

Following her desire to work with patrons to help them find what they need, Stephanie landed her current position as a Research and Instruction Librarian at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she is enthusiastic about being able to work with faculty and students to help them in their research and creativity.  A main aspect of her job that she truly enjoys is highlighting collections that either group wouldn’t necessarily know is there.  Not only does this allow Stephanie, who works predominantly with their comic book and graphic novel collections, to showcase collections that interest her, but she’s also able to highlight collections that students and faculty may not realize are available for use, or even know that the library holds these collections.

However, she does recognize the challenge and differences in work with faculty and students, which echo some of the challenges many LIS professionals are facing in their respective institutions.  Faculty, while supportive and aware of the library, may not always be aware of the library or librarians’ and how they can truly enhance their courses, and by extension the students’ learning.  Students, while aware that the library has resources to help them succeed, may not feel comfortable making the trip to the library, and even further may not feel comfortable approaching a librarian to ask which resources would be the most helpful.

That’s exactly where Stephanie comes in: Stephanie focuses a large portion of her work to building a rapport with faculty and staff through one-on-one sessions with students to discuss their specific needs, teach a class on information literacy and conducting research with the materials the library has to offer, and bolstering SCAD’s collection development program by bringing materials into the library that students and faculty alike are hoping to utilize in their work.

To even further develop a relationship with the SCAD community, Stephanie tailors an ongoing display of library materials to what would be interesting to the community as a whole.  Most recently, this included professional development resources for students who may be graduating soon and information on various campus events like their upcoming DeFINE Art event where alumni and internationally renowned artists visit for talks on campus related to their work.  Stephanie is able to highlight the related materials in the library’s collections through this display, and show students and faculty alike the wide range of materials that can be found in their collections.

The needs of her patrons are always on Stephanie’s mind, so she spends her time not working with patrons to process the library’s backlog of comics donations, including highlighting writers or characters from traditionally marginalized groups that students would be interesting in seeing, but also may not realize are kept in the library for them to use had they not been brought to the forefront.  By focusing on the materials students would be interested in seeing, Stephanie is able to spark their interest in materials they may not have thought to use before.  As Stephanie puts it, “getting a non-librarian excited about library resources is the best thing ever,” and that philosophy seems to shape the type of work and service she brings to the SCAD community.

Meet Erin O’Malley, Art on on Campus Outreach Coordinator at Iowa State University

by Meghan Turney

Erin O’Malley currently works as the Art on Campus Outreach Coordinator at Iowa State University.  Erin has a background in museum studies and fell into archiving, considering the two fields are so intertwined. Erin earned her BA in anthropology with a minor in art history and has her MA degree is in history with a concentration and certificate in museum studies. While studying for her masters she focused on educational outreach and building and creating exhibits.

Erin’s introductory job into the field of museums and archives was as an intern at the anthropology museum on her college campus, which got her thinking about museums as a career. Her first full-time job out of graduate school was at the University of Texas-Arlington where she assembled exhibits from the archives and special collections and oversaw the art and artifacts collection. During her ten years at UTA, Erin says, is where she gained most of her professional training. Her favorite exhibit, she curated, was on American Western Art, one of her areas of study. Since UTA doesn’t actively collect fine art, it was nice to get the objects out of storage and displayed them to the public. The exhibit featured interactive elements as well, allowing the users to draw their own western art. For Erin, engaging the visitors is extremely important when creating an exhibit design. The exhibit can be found here.

For Erin, creating an exhibit is all about layers of information in a variety of formats. When asked why, Erin’s response was “visitors are so diverse and they are not going to go through an exhibit how you want them to no matter how well you’ve planned it. So, you just have to give them lots of opportunities to get your points and themes. Very hard to do, but fun.” Sadly, most institutions lack the adequate founding to properly put together exhibits and UTA was no different. In this case, Erin got create with the mounts she used, most of which were made by her, and allowed the pieces to have the proper support while on display.

At Iowa State Erin does a lot of educational work, exhibit wok, as well as maintenance and acquisition of public art pieces. She oversees the Art on Campus collection, which is all the public art on the campus, encompassing over 2,000 items. It is here, where Erin does her outreach, which includes educational programming such as tours and events. Erin is a constant advocate for art, working alongside the art acquisition committee and educating them on the public art and the process. Erin works with the committee to install the public art in their spaces, while teaching the educational value of the pieces. When it involves the public art collection, she and the head of education department work together to coordinate with faculty and students lessons about the art as well as getting it and the museum into the curriculum. Erin also staffs the museum, and handles any press or media that involves public art. Erin points out that although having a social media presence enables a lot of attention and funding from the community, not all archives and museums have the resources accomplish an impactful web presence.

One of her biggest achievements at Iowa State University is the traveling exhibit that is currently taking place and is state-wide and touring at five different venues. (which you can find here.) It is a portrait exhibit done by one artist and involves 39 portraits. To ensure the exhibit would be a success Erin created a lot of outreach and planning around it, including the logistics of transportation to the different venues. The president of the college is currently assisting in the outreach facet, where she’s been holding events at the venues across the state. In just under a year Erin accomplished the undertaking of a traveling, state-wide, exhibition.

When asked how Erin would define cultural heritage, Erin says, “at its core museums and archives are about preserving cultural heritage for future generations and use. Therefore, we always should think long term. Both in what we collect and how we preserve it and make it accessible.” Erin hopes that she can perform future exhibits, like the traveling exhibit, that will impact not only the students at Iowa State University, but the people of Iowa in general. For Erin O’Malley’s complete exhibit history, click here.




Meet Spencer Keralis, Director for Digital Scholarship at the University of North Texas

by Ayoola White

Spencer Keralis is in love with metadata. He blogs, he emails, he evangelizes his department to a variety of academic disciplines at his university. He is the Head of the Digital Humanities and Collaborative Programs Unit at the University of North Texas (UNT). He began working at UNT in 2011, in a library position funded by a grant. The next year he took on the newly created role of Director for Digital Scholarship. In 2014, the Digital Humanities Unit was founded. He completed his doctoral studies in early American Literature at NYU in 2016.  . In this short amount of time, Keralis’ job roles and titles evolved to match the new skills that he was developing, namely pedagogy, research, and marketing. The department has continued to grow to match the needs of the UNT community.

With a background in early book culture, Keralis has a special appreciation for digitization, even though the Digital Humanities Unit doesn’t do a lot of that. He points out that, although digitization is not tantamount to preservation, it does increase access. Even if a rare book that is from, say, the 1800s is too fragile for regular handling, digitization allows people to get excited about discovering something unique. His familiarity with the realm of literature is a boon to Keralis in this position, along with his devotion to public service.

The Humanities Unit organizes a lot of workshops and other events. The philosophy that underpins the organizing of these events is “programming clusters,” often inspired by current issues. The flexibility that this framework marks an advantage over the practice of continually having annual events without regard for whether the event is needed or not. The most popular event that the Digital Libraries Unit hosts is the Human Library, which has been running for six years and takes place during National Library Week. The way it works is that a patron can “check out” a person and hear that person’s life stories. Keralis points out that this is a spectacular way for people from marginalized groups to share their perspectives. Another event that Keralis is proud of is the Digital Frontiers Conference, an annual regional conference with an emphasis on being affordable for, accessible to, and inclusive of early career professionals. In his words, “makers and users are brought together.” The conference draws people from a variety of fields—humanities, computer science, genealogy, and library science to name a few—and they all go through the same conference experience together, as there are no separate tracks or concurrent sessions.

A continual challenge that Keralis has faced in his position has been finding proper metrics of value to judge the effectiveness of the department. After all, not all that is measurable is useful, and not all that is useful is measurable. This situation can be especially stressful since metrics are used to allocate funding, which Keralis considers to be “the biggest nightmare” for his department, since the technology and expertise associated with the digital humanities can carry a hefty price tag. For this reason, Keralis is always in “community-building mode” to demonstrate the value of what he and his colleagues do.

In terms of the future of the Digital Humanities Unit, Keralis is hopeful about the community that has been built around it. Specifically, he referenced the high student involvement in digital humanities scholarship, particularly at the Digital Frontiers Conference. He observes that students are frequently on the same panels as faculty. Keralis also appreciates that people from disciplines that are not strictly based in the humanities have become involved with his department. For example, he was invited to a design class, and he was excited by the ideas students were generating about “interrogating race, gender, and sexuality” in their field. Keralis is heartened by the engagement of these emerging scholars.

Meet Lauren Goodley, Archivist at The Wittliff Collections

by Michelle Slater

Lauren Goodley is a professional archivist with The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University. She has been in her current position for five years, and has taken on various projects, responsibilities, and collaborations; as her role continues to change and grow. In her position as archivist, she processes analog/paper archival materials, and has spearheaded a burgeoning digitization and preservation program for the archive and its parent library.

The Collection that Lauren works with, the Southwestern Writers Collection, was founded in 1986 by Bill and Sally Wittliff, which birthed the broader special collections known as ‘The Wittliff Collections’ or ‘The Wittliff,’ that resides within the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University. Their mission is to collect, preserve, and share the creative legacy of the Southwest’s literary, photographic, and musical arts, while fostering the region’s ‘Spirit of Place’ in the world. The Wittliff Collection has three ‘pillars’ in its collecting scope: Southwestern Writers, Southwestern and Mexican Photography, and Texas Music. The Wittliff is open to the public with free admission, and welcomes visitors, tours and classes. The collection is available to statewide, national, and international researchers, and is also frequented by the student body and local community. Lauren shares the responsibility of teaching and hosting class trips at varying levels of education to the archives, as well as making visits to classrooms on campus and appearing at community events.

Lauren has always been in conversation with local histories, having grown up in Texas and completed several intern positions at local history sites. Lauren’s background in advocacy and outreach has a large bearing on her current work within The Wittliff, tying into their mission of lifting up Texas’s creative profile and identity. She achieves this by creating access to materials in the archive, as well maintaining relationships with local communities and users. She has collaborated on several exhibits using archival material as a form of outreach, and provides materials to other departments of the library/archives for their outreach programs as well. Through her role as archivist with The Wittliff Collections, Lauren contributes to the proliferation and preservation of Texas’s rich creative culture, in perfect harmony with her interests in local community building and advocacy. She conducts reference work for researchers, students, and journalists, and recently provided reference services for journalists and production companies covering the 25th anniversary of an important local event. Lauren’s reference work directly effects advocacy for the archives, lifting The Wittliff’s public profile as a ‘remembering’ institution in the local community.

One of The Wittliff’s developing outreach projects is with the Austin Film Festival, to preserve their conference recordings digitally in the archives. This partnership has provided the archives with valuable community material, and in exchange, Lauren advised the group in establishing records keeping standards for their materials. The goal of this project is to digitally preserve these community materials, and create equitable access online- which Lauren works to improve, in junction with the Library Programmer.

With the Southwestern Writers Collection, Lauren developed workflows and archival standards for efficiently and effectively digitizing materials in-house. She first addressed inconsistencies in the archive’s digitization practices, and with a student worker, created an inventory identifying at-risk items in their holdings to be digitized. The inventory is updated with all new acquisitions, includes previously processed digital materials as well. The standardized protocol makes the task of digitization easier to delegate to student workers. Lauren supervises these student workers and interns, as she oversees quality control, workflow efficiency, and that archival standards are up to date. This stewardship in caring for digital archival records contributes to The Wittliff’s longterm goal of preservation, and creates equitable access to its materials.

Within the broader scope of the library, Lauren created the Digital Preservation Working Group (DPWG), which meets bi-weekly and consists of herself, the archivist from University Archives, and members of the Digital and Web Services department. This group works to assess use and access of the digital materials of the archive and library, and manages a plan for the Library’s digital asset management and preservation, adhering to the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model. In forming this group, Lauren hopes to increase access as a means of outreach and advocacy, as materials are easier to find and use; and preservation, which ensures that access in ongoing. So far, the group has completed their digital preservation policy, which applies to all digital holdings of The Wittliff, as well as digital assets of the Library.

Meet Lindsay Sprechman, Collections Archivist at Jewish Heritage Center at the New England Historic Genealogical Society

by Thera Webb

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Lindsay Sprechman, the Collections Archivist for the Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society. Sprechman became interested in archives during college when she was an intern at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, where she produced articles for the Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities. Her research utilized town and synagogue archives to trace the history of Jews in towns in the American south.

As an MLIS student at Simmons College, she interned at the UMass Boston Archives, as well as at the American Jewish Historical Society-New England Archives. Upon graduation she became the archivist at Temple Israel in Boston, where she worked as the sole member of the archives, handling processing, outreach, and records management, until being hired as a Processing Archivist at the Jewish Heritage Center, where she has worked for four two and a half years.

The Jewish Heritage Center (JHC), is in the midst of a unique opportunity – having rebranded in 2017, there are many opportunities for outreach within the organization.  For many years, the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS), the oldest ethnic historical society in the country, has had two archives—the national archive in New York City and another archive in the Boston area, known as AJHS-New England Archives (AJHS-NEA). In 2010, AJHS and the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) launched a collaboration when AJHS-NEA moved into NEHGS, first as an autonomous organization, and then as a strategic partner. In 2015, the collaboration was further strengthened when AJHS-NEA had its collections permanently deposited at NEHGS and officially became a part of the organization. In 2017, the Jewish Heritage Center was launched, with AJHS-NEA as its cornerstone, to engage historians, genealogists, youth, and the general public in programming and research to advance the study of the history, culture, and institutional legacies of Jewish families in New England and beyond by educating, inspiring, and connecting people through scholarship, collections, and expertise while serving as an archival and educational resource for other Jewish organizations and institutions. With so many changes occurring, outreach is especially important to raise awareness for the archives in order to attract patrons as well as to assist with fundraising efforts and acquiring collections.

With only four staff members, everybody on the team at the JHC plays a role in outreach and advocacy for the organization. Stephanie Call, the Manager of the Jewish Heritage Center, is responsible for overseeing the JHC’s core activities of archival preservation, family history, and educational outreach.  Kelsey Sawyer, the Reference and Photo Archivist, manages reference requests and assists researchers with navigating the archives, as well as handling a large-scale photography digitization survey. And Jessie Xu, the Digital Projects Coordinator, is the lead staff person on the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society- Boston digitization project, as well as all other digitization tasks. The team takes a three-pronged approach to outreach: exhibits, resource development, and social media.

Social media is, in many ways, the simplest but also the most challenging kind of outreach. Staying on top of regular posting can be difficult for a busy team with no specific communications administrator. To solve this issue, each member takes over social media for a month at a time, switching off throughout the year. Social media for the JHC includes not only Facebook and Instagram, but also Pinterest, Tumblr, and Historypin, as well at the main website. During her assigned month, Sprechman will go through archival items and create daily posts for the Center’s social media platforms. By taking turns, the team is able to stay on top of social media while still making headway on the day-to-day projects.

Exhibits are another tool for outreach. By hosting exhibits online, the JHC encourages web traffic to their site, which can lead to users exploring more online collections and coming in person to the archives. The JHC recently collaborated with NEHGS on the exhibit Voices of War: Americans in World War I, incorporating stories of the Jewish soldiers of WWI from the archives.

However, not all exhibits are online. Theeducation center at the NEHGS building on Newbury Street currently hosts a collection of ephemera and records from early Jewish doctors in America, focusing on the contributions made by Dr. Saul Hertz who pioneered the use of radioactive isotopes in treating disease. Programming is held in the education center, as well as in various venues around the city, as the JHC works with partners in the community to plan interesting and compelling presentations for people of all ages.

Resource Development is the third arm of their outreach program, focusing on making their collections easily accessible. While working on a huge digitization project of photos from the archives, the team at the JHC is also compiling subject guides for researchers. Currently they have two comprehensive guides online – for Labor History in the Collections, and for Music in the Collections. They are planning on creating guides for many other subjects, as well as a resource guide to Jewish Archives in other parts of the country and the world.

Being located on Newbury Street right by Copley Square permits the JHC to take part in summertime activities such as Open Newbury Street, and Free Fun Fridays, which help engage the community with hands-on activities in and around the archives.

Using a multilayered approach to outreach and advocacy, and driven by the newly rebranded JHC and it’s updated mission statement, Sprechman and her coworkers are creating multiple entry points to the collection for people from all walks of life and encouraging people from Boston and further to engage with the Jewish heritage and records they maintain.