Getting to Know Jennifer Olguin, Rio Grande Historical Collections Archivist

Getting to Know ASC Staff is a series spotlighting employees of the NMSU Archives and Special Collections Department.  

Jennifer Olguin, Rio Grande Historical Collections Archivist.

Background information:

As the saying goes, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” This certainly applies to my career within the academic library. I was introduced to the library profession while an undergraduate student at New Mexico State University, during which I was pursuing a completely unrelated career path. As a freshman, I was new to the college experience and frankly new to job searching. As I browsed through campus job listings, I came across a student library aid posting and figured I would apply. Fortunately, I got the position, though little did I know the seeds were being sown for my library career. The student position was my first real job and I was new to the library atmosphere.

During the ten years of working in the library at New Mexico State University, I have occupied various positions in the organization and gained valuable experience. The positions have enabled me to grow professionally, to understand how different units within the library function, and to see how the various units comprising a library operate as a system to advance the mission and goals. My work experience has progressed from an entry-level student work-study position to paraprofessional staff, and currently as a tenure-track faculty member. At every level, I have sustained an ever-increasing passion for the responsibilities of working within an academic library. I never could have imagined that starting my library employment as a student aid would open the doors to a career in librarianship. Looking back, I am thankful that I applied for that student aid position. It is the foundation upon which I have been able to build, step by step, each succeeding level of my library career.

Role at NMSU Archives:

As the Rio Grande Historical Collections (RGHC) archivist within the ASC, I have the opportunity to assist the campus community along with the public with their research needs. In my role as the RGHC archivist, I have the following roles/opportunities:

  • Process, arrange and make archival collections accessible for research
  • Teach one-shot instructional sessions to NMSU students and the public to inform them about the archives and the importance of primary resources
  • Engage in community outreach opportunities such as creating exhibitions and in addition represent the ASC department at events to promote archival collections
  • Publish content in scholarly publications

New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum, Cowboy Days Celebration – ASC Outreach Event, March 2020

Educational background:

I graduated from NMSU in 2008 and received my undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and Spanish. In 2017, while working full-time in ASC, I decided to pursue my Master of Library Science degree and in 2018, I obtained my degree from the University of North Texas. Although I graduated from library school, it does not indicate that my learning comes to an end. In the librarianship profession, it is critical to keep up-to-date with current trends/practices in the field by reading literature about the profession, joining professional organizations, and tuning into webinars. These methods have kept me current with the latest developments in the field.

Previous archival experience:

Before assuming the role of the RGHC archivist, I was a library specialist within the unit. As the library specialist, I obtained first-hand experience working with archival collections and understanding the basic functions of working with archival materials. I am grateful and fortunate that I was able to learn from previous RGHC archivists.

What attracted you to work in archives?

I enjoy helping people locate information in general and working in the archives allows me to connect and assist researchers. In addition, I enjoy getting to view incoming collections – I never know what collections may contain and it is like opening up a present each time we receive a newly acquired collection.

Favorite item/collection in the ASC:

This is a difficult choice considering that all collections are invaluable, but I would have to say the Joseph Quesenberry Diary is one of my many favorite collections held in RGHC. The replica acquisition of the Joseph “Joe” Quesenberry diary was acquired in 2019. The diary belonged to Joe Quesenberry, a former student at New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (now NMSU). The diary captures events that he experienced from December 1916 to March 1918 while serving in the U.S. Army during WWI. The diary is captivating and t touching considering he describes the events he encountered with remarkable detail, which makes you feel like you are experiencing the events alongside Joe.

Quesenberry material displayed at an ASC open house event.

Favorite experiences working in the ASC department:

Working in the ASC department is an overall great experience and I enjoy working with my colleagues and establishing connections with the patrons that visit the archives. I also enjoy contributing content here on The Open Stacks blog because it allows the ASC to share current and relevant news about the department. Lastly, I also enjoy being able to be part of outreach events since they allow the archives to be in the public eye and highlight various materials.

Random fact people do not know about me:

Not many people know that I am a huge Kansas City Chiefs fan. In 2015, my husband and I went to a Chiefs game and met the KC Wolf mascot. You can find KC memorabilia in my office and at my home! I am looking forward to the upcoming season, GO CHIEFS!

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