Getting to Know ASC Staff is a series spotlighting employees of the NMSU Archives and Special Collections Department.
My background experience is in public library service; I worked the reference desk at Thomas Branigan Memorial Library from 1997- 2009. The patrons were wonderful people of varied backgrounds and diverse opinions. I grew close to the patrons and missed them as much as I missed my co-workers when I left to take the library director position of the Española Public Library. The population who utilizes the public library visit for precisely the same reasons that the patrons who visit an academic library do. They are all looking for someone to help them find the answer to their questions. So I thought switching roles to work at the NMSU Archives and Special Collections (ASC) would be easy. But I had a lot to learn! Luckily, I had a patient supervisor who had confidence in my abilities. Thank you, Larry!
Role at NMSU Archives: My role in the archives is supportive. I do administrative work for our department, process collections, assist patrons in the research room, and through email; I also supervise our student employees. I very much appreciate the variety of tasks. As I have gotten older, I think I developed into an adaptive person.
Educational background: I completed the Library Technology associate degree at Dona Ana Community College (DACC). I was among the first to be accepted into the program and almost one of the last to graduate! I’m not proud that it took me nearly 20 years to complete a 2-year degree. I am pleased that I did it, though, and I encourage students young or mature not to give up or let things get in the way of their education. There are many student support services and programs here at NMSU to help students succeed- tutoring services, free software for students, book rentals, and a healthy food bank, to name a few, but there are many more.
Previous archival experience: I had no prior experience working with archives, but processing (archiving) the collections is the favorite part of my job. I am still learning (as with any other businesses, things are frequently changing in library work too).
Favorite item/collection in the Archives: It’s difficult for me to name just one. Every time I work on a collection or write about it in the Open Stacks blog, I fall emotionally involved with the subject. I become obsessed with acknowledging their stories. The story of Herman Weisner was probably the story that stole my thoughts daily until I finished the Open Stacks two-part blog post about him and his incredible wife, Kay. Kay’s interesting background included being a decedent of the Haida Nation Raven/Bear clan.
Favorite experiences working in the ASC department: Two years ago, I assisted RGHC Archivist Jennifer Olguin in a class session. After the session, a young student and a friend hung about afterward. They asked a few questions about old newspapers and if there were photos in the papers. I managed to get the student to tell me what they wanted to search for, and I would bring it up on the Newspaper Archives database that Jennifer mentioned in her session. The student was a little embarrassed to tell us what they wanted but eventually gave me a name that I recognized. I didn’t say anything or react to it. I typed in the name given to me, and the screen filled with articles about the crime this individual had committed. We left the students to search privately through the articles while we busied ourselves with other tasks. When the students finished reading, they thanked us and told us that the individual was the father of one of them, but the student didn’t remember or know him. Their whole life, the student had been sheltered from what he had done. The student had wanted to know about him. I knew the story and was glad this young student was not a part of that story. In the ASC, we don’t care why people ask questions; we care about helping them discover the answer. This experience reinforced the simplicity of why we make archives accessible. The answers to research questions are not always what one would expect. For some researchers, there is good that comes from the knowledge they were right in their research; for others, there is an unexpected twist to the story they thought they knew, and, for those, like this young student there is relief from the “not knowing anymore.” I hope wherever this student is, they are well and that their newfound knowledge has only made them more determined to continue their education.
Random fact people do not know about me: My husband and I host a speakeasy history night on weekends. If you know the password, you know when it is. If you don’t know the password, I don’t know what you are talking about.
An equally supportive supervisor, Dennis Daily replaced Dr. Larry Crieder after he retired.
The Library Technology program is no longer available at DACC.
Resources for students can be found here: https://catalogs.nmsu.edu/nmsu/student-resources/.