Meet Steering Committee Member: Sandra Varry

This post is the second in a series highlighting our recently-elected Section leadership.

Sandra Varry is the Heritage & University Archivist at Florida State University where she collects, manages, and provides access to FSU’s archive and manages its Heritage Museum. She holds an MFA in Photography from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and an MLIS from the University of South Florida. She became a Certified Archivist in 2013 and Digital Archives Specialist in 2014. She is a recent past chair of the Visual Materials Section of SAA, and a past President of the Society of Florida Archivists. She taught traditional and digital photography for 13 years before becoming a full time archivist, specializing in historic photograph collections.

Why or how did you find your way to becoming an archivist?

As a young photographer I worked with found objects and texts in my personal work, and had a passion for the history of photography, creating exhibits, and teaching. I decided to merge my love of teaching with libraries and made my way into the archives in 2009. It was a great fit, and as a university archivist I immediately began working with a very large photograph collection. Preserving and providing access to image collections and records has become my passion. I regularly give presentations and workshops on preserving scrapbooks and photographs, digitization, and working with digital photography and prints.

Can you share a success you’ve had in your repository recently?

As with a lot of institutions, moving ourselves online has been a major undertaking. I feel we made quick work of creating a framework for communication, expectations, and how to manage staff and researcher needs while staying safe. We are very fortunate to have the resources we need to do this well. We are now able to begin accepting collections again building on the basis of these new procedures and processes.

What current or future project are you most excited about in your archives?

We have a lot of digitization projects in our queue, but I am really interested in giving better access to our negatives that don’t have accompanying prints – we often have requests that require us to review them. There are many engaging bodies of work in those negatives that could be more easily used and shared.

What are some of the challenges you face in your position?

We are extremely busy – all of the time, so there are a lot of projects that end up down the list of to do’s. The challenge is to constantly leverage our resources (time/staff, etc.) to stay on top of things and not allow too many  to become “someday” projects.

What projects do you envision the section undertaking during your time on the steering committee?

I am very excited that we are taking on updating the section’s standard for College & University Archives. It’s a good resource and the updates will allow for broader adoption and support for all types of institutions. I also look forward to our online webinar series and continued coffee chats.

Anything else you want the membership to know about you or your work?

I’ve been in academia for twenty years, with almost ten in archives. I am always learning something new from those around me and the collections I work with. It’s one of the things about our profession that I love.


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