Audra Eagle, Project Archivist, Wake Forest University

Hi! My name is Audra and I received my MLIS with a specialization in archival studies from UCLA in 2008. I moved to North Carolina with my husband in 2008, though we are not new to the area. I went to Duke for college, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in literature and critical theory, as well as a certificate in information science and information studies. Historical records used as evidence, particularly in the creation of heritage and identity, always interested me. While I was in college, I was a summer Junior Fellow at the Library of Congress, where I worked in the Prints and Photographs division.

I worked all four years of college in the Duke University Libraries system, so I knew I wanted to go to library school, but I was not sure about special collections work. It wasn’t until I started library school and got an incredible job in the Department of Special Collections at UCLA (working on the Los Angeles Times photographic morgue digitization project) that I realized that I wanted to continue working with archival material and special collections. I was also a fellow at the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT) at UCLA, where I learned how to do archival processing and description, digitization projects, and created finding aids for the first time. I had internships in the local history department at Palos Verdes Library District and in the consumer products division archives at the Walt Disney Company. After moving to Winston-Salem, I started volunteering at my local library branch and got a part-time position as a metadata technician for the Digital Forsyth project. A few months later, I was offered a position as a special collections librarian in the North Carolina Room at Forsyth County Public Library, where I focused on local history, genealogy, and creating an archival program at the library. If you’re interested, more information on my background is on my LinkedIn profile.

I started my position as the Project Archivist for Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University just over a month ago, and already my position has been incredibly rewarding. I work in Special Collections and Archives, where I serve both as processing archivist and digital projects manager. Because librarians at Wake Forest have faculty status, I also have the opportunity to teach and am encouraged to publish my research and projects. On the processing archivist side of my position, I am creating an inventory of unprocessed archival collections (manuscripts, personal papers, and record groups). I am also formulating a processing workflow so that finding aids can be created using Archivists’ Toolkit, which I will then export in Encoded Archival Description, MARC, and Dublin Core formats for display online. On the digital projects manager side, I am creating a digital projects selection policy, metadata descriptive and structural standards, and a workflow strategy in collaboration with my colleagues working in special collections, technology, copyright, and web design. We will work to improve our digital asset management system, dSpace (at WFU, it’s called WakeSpace), as well as our digital collections portal. I also supervise a graduate intern and a few students, which I hope to expand into a formal program like the CFPRT. In general, my role is to maintain clear guidelines for archival projects, both physical and digital, so that our “hidden collections” can become more accessible.

For those of you interested in special collections or archives work, I strongly recommend getting involved with professional organizations. You can get student membership and conference rates, not to mention lots of opportunities for professional development, mentoring, and networking. I am an active member of the Society of American Archivists, the Academy of Certified Archivists, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of Association of College and Research Libraries, the American Library Association, as well as a board member of the Society of North Carolina Archivists, the Round Table on Special Collections of the North Carolina Library Association, and the North Carolina Preservation Consortium. I was a 2009 ALA Emerging Leader, which is another outstanding development and networking opportunity for new and recent graduates. There are tons of ways for you to meet and talk to experienced archivists and special collections professionals!

Another great way to stay up-to-date on ideas and projects going on in the archives world is to follow archivists and special collections librarians on Twitter and blogs. You can see the archivists I follow on Twitter here. Some of my favorite blogs are: ArchivesNexthangingtogether, the North Carolina Digital Collections CollaboratorySpellbound Blogthesecretmirror, and NewArchivist.

Thanks for reading. This is an exciting time to be an archivist!

Audra Eagle, Project Archivist

Z. Smith Reynolds Library

Wake Forest University

eagleal@wfu.edu

Twitter: librarchivist

Blog: Touchable Archives

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2 thoughts on “Audra Eagle, Project Archivist, Wake Forest University

  1. Hi Audra!
    Your educational background is obviously grounded in archives and special collections. UNCG is lacking this “track”. I am interested in the subject, and I know many of my classmates are, and am wondering what you might suggest as a good focus of time and education? I wish we had CFPRT here, that sounds great!
    You have definitely sung the praises of Twitter, I will have to check it out.
    Thanks,
    Rebecca

    1. Great question! There are a number of alternatives to develop a focus in archives or special collections. You can take classes through SAA or LYRASIS, online or in person, although these can be expensive. The University of Michigan has a couple of archives courses online for free at https://open.umich.edu/education/si. You can teach yourself a great deal by reading the books/articles/websites from syllabi at other institutions. Also, check out the exam handbook from the Academy of Certified Archivists (http://www.certifiedarchivists.org) to see what they consider to be “required reading” for professional archivists. Perhaps most importantly, look into local internships and volunteer opportunities so that you can get hands-on experience with archives and special collections. Do not hesitate to contact the library/archives where you would like to work and present them with your credentials, offering to provide your services as a volunteer. I think there is no better way to know if archives work is right for you than to try it!

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