I guess I’m the archives/special collections representative to this blog feature. I’ve had my current position as Librarian of the Friends Historical Collection and College Archivist at Guilford College since 2000. I got my start in archives as an undergraduate work study student at Earlham College where I had the opportunity to work closely with the college archivist for four years and also do archival research as a history major. I pursued graduate work in both history (MA) and library studies (MLIS) at UNC-G. While in graduate school, I worked part-time at Guilford College in a variety of library positions (archives as well as serials, reserves, and reference in the main collection). I also had a part-time job at Old Salem which provided opportunity to learn more about public history in a non-library setting. I keep up on issues in archives with regular participation in the Society of North Carolina Archivists and other professional archival organizations.
I’ve always had an interest in social history and the connections that can be found through manuscript collections. I often enjoy history most when I can connect it to people, places, and subjects that speak to present day and have some kind of local or personal connection. College archives are a great way to experience that type of history and special collection work gives opportunities to work with a huge variety of materials and provide access to a diverse group of researchers. In my current position, I work with college undergraduates, faculty, graduate students, and a variety of folks unaffiliated with a college or university who have an interest in topics we support with our collections. The Friends Historical Collection functions as a library within the larger academic library so I handle reference services(both in person and online), collection development, processing of archival materials, as well as a variety of management responsibilities such as supervision of staff and volunteers, budgeting, and donor relations. In my work as Friends Historical Collection Librarian, I work with churches and organizations affiliated with the Society of Friends (Quakers) throughout North Carolina (and some other areas as well) to manage their records and related manuscript materials. I also acquire and maintain a comprehensive collection of publications (monographs and serials) relating to the Society of Friends (Quakers) on an international level. In my work as College Archivist, I (along with our archives associate, Liz Cook) look after the records of the college which includes keeping up on records management issues as well as describing, preserving, and providing researcher access to our older records. Both sides of the position involve extensive opportunities for outreach and instruction. Each day brings new opportunities.
My position at Guilford as a professional librarian comes with faculty status but not tenure. This means that I participate in faculty meeting and with committee service. I go up for review through the Faculty Affairs Committee for promotion (we have a parallel rank so I am currently an Associate Librarian) but don’t go through a tenure review. I am a member of the overall library’s management and public services teams and serve as a collection development liaison for several academic departments so end up doing a fair amount with non-archival topics and collections as well.
Feel free to contact me about archives and archival opportunities. I’m also glad to share with those interested in college librarianship more generally (as opposed to work in a larger university setting).
Gwen Gosney Erickson
Friends Historical Collection Librarian and College Archivist
Hege Library, Guilford College