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The Meet Your Steering Committee Series allows the section membership to better get to know the Committee. For more entries, click here.
Amanda Avery (she/her) is the Learning Technologies & Collections Librarian at Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois. This position includes acting as the College Archivist, the part of librarianship she loves the most. Amanda graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2019 and held a summer internship at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Library & Archives the following summer. Although a full-time archives position hasn’t been in the cards, she finds community college librarianship to be a good challenge and is grateful for the opportunity to manage the College Archives while there.
Why or how did you find your way to becoming an archivist?
I have always loved local and genealogical history as well as collecting and keeping items that share my own story, but I had no idea it was a profession until I started looking at grad school. Finding out about Archives as a profession sealed my decision to earn my MSLIS.
The road to archivist has been, and continues to be, a series of knowing the right people and being open to opportunities. I was able to volunteer at two campus museums during grad school as well as a local community archives which led the way to completing a practicum and my internship. Since graduation, it has been difficult to land a full-time archives position due to limitations for relocation, but I have found opportunities at community colleges to put my knowledge and skills to use. Most community colleges do not have a full-time archivist and the responsibilities often lie with a librarian who has other duties. In my experience, these librarians are very willing to let someone who is excited about archives care for the collections, so I jumped right in. I am now one of those librarians, but I am happy to be able to continue archival work and stay involved with the community.
Can you share a success you’ve had in your repository recently?
My biggest success to date is receiving a grant to digitize the college’s student newspaper and making it available and searchable to the public. I wrote the grant proposal with a colleague, and it is the first successful application for either of us. With funding we are able to pay my colleague extra hours to inventory the newspaper collection, purchase boxes for rehousing, pay a vendor to digitize the issues, and pay a grad student to upload the files into our institutional repository. We will also be sharing the files with the University of Illinois for inclusion into the Illinois Digital Newspaper Collection which allows the articles in each issue to be keyword searchable. This is a huge step in making our archives collection accessible.
What current or future project are you most excited about in your archives?
I am currently working with two colleagues on getting our finding aids into ArchivesSpace. Our finding aids are currently Word documents and are very difficult to search when we have a research question. Typically, we look through several different finding aids to find out where related materials might be located. ArchivesSpace will let us, and our users, keyword search the collection which makes it more accessible than ever. We have been working for several months to make sure the finding aids are up to date and accurately reflect the collection’s contents, so this is a very exciting step for us.
What are some of the challenges you face in your position?
One significant challenge is the nature of my role which is the Learning Technologies and Collections Librarian. This means I have my hand in e-resources, archives, the institutional repository, technical services, instructional technologies including the LMS, and the television station. I have just started in this position a few months ago and due to many transitions already, it has been difficult to find the right balance. I am lucky to work with two part-time librarians who also love archives, so I am able to push forward projects with their help.
What projects do you envision the section undertaking during your time on the steering committee?
I am interested in access to resources for archivists who do not have a large budget or a lot of time to dedicate to their collections. I hope to spend time on the Archival Horizon’s Toolkit and increase the resources available there.