Getting to know the ASC Staff during a time of Social Distancing

 

We sure miss you Aggie Nation!  Please know we are still available to help you with your research needs even if Branson Library is currently not open to the public.  Get to know our staff as they each briefly tell how they came to work at ASC and why they are so passionate about archives:

Dennis Daily, Archives and Special Collections Department Head

It is no exaggeration to say that archives changed my life. It was a serendipitous path that brought me to my current position as department head of the NMSU Library Archives and Special Collections (ASC). In my former incarnation, I was a photographer who ended up as a journalism and art student here at NMSU. While taking an art course on the history of photography, our class visited the archives at Branson Library and got an introduction to the photo collections from Tim Blevins. I ended up writing a paper for that class on a collection of early 20th century glass negatives in the Amador family papers, my first work with archival materials. It was cool. A year later, in 1997, when the department was looking for someone to manage some microfilming projects on-site in Durango, Mexico, Tim remembered my photographic background and my (then meager) ability to speak Spanish. I excitedly accepted a two-year stint in Durango, microfilming historical documents dating back to the late 16th century! Now I was really getting hooked on the archival enterprise (and learning to love microfilm). Following those two momentous years, which also saw me marrying a wonderful Durangueña, I was fortunate that then department head Austin Hoover decided to keep me on staff.

With my background in photography, I began to manage the department’s photography collections, particularly the copy photography work and the nascent technology of digital photography. While my main focus during that time was on photography – historical processes, techniques and the social context – I also pursued interests in Mexican history and cultural practices. Along the way, I learned about archives, preservation, and the importance of providing reference and research services. I received my MLS from the University of North Texas in 2006 and the following year accepted a job as manager of Special Collections at large public library system in Colorado Springs. During that wonderful time at the foot of majestic Pikes Peak, I learned more about managing collections of rare books, maps, manuscripts, oral histories and films, and because we were a public library, spent a great deal of time on programming and outreach activities. I also learned the ins and outs of genealogical research and helping our users discover their family histories.

The call of the borderlands was ever in my ear, however, and in 2016 I was fortunate to return to Las Cruces and the NMSU Library as department head of ASC. I am thrilled to be back where I was first bit by the archives bug, among the collections that I had grown to love (and that I missed sorely), and to have the chance to work with a fantastic group of intelligent and talented individuals. Our goal is to preserve and provide access to the unique and extensive archival collections under our care. We all take great pride in offering superlative customer service and in sharing these resources with everyone who is interested – students, scholars, NMSU staff and faculty, and the public.

 

Teddie Moreno, Library Specialist

Hola, I am Teddie Moreno. I am a native New Mexican, and, except for most recently, I have lived in New Mexico most of my life. While my heart might belong to the Land of Enchantment, the love of my life belongs deep in the heart of Texas. El Paso, actually, but that is deep enough for me. I made the 40-minute commute to work and back home every day until the pandemic started. I have a love-hate relationship with remote work. I do miss my student employees, my coworkers, and my favorite researchers dearly, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my three months to the gallon gas mileage lately.

I have been a team member ASC since 2015. Before joining the NMSU Library, I worked primarily in public libraries. Most recently, I was the Director of the Espanola Public Library in northern New Mexico. I also worked at Thomas Branigan Memorial Library for 13 years. This is how and where I became interested in service to my community. There were many opportunities to work in the Las Cruces Community as a city employee, but the best opportunities were within the library. It was fantastic to connect a patron to the right material, service, or resource. It was gratifying to know that it was me who helped that woman write her first resume or help the veteran with the microfiche machine to view his service records.

I must admit when I started working at ASC, I worried. I feared that the compassion and friendly service I had been trained to provide in a public library would be discouraged in my new workplace. Academic libraries have a reputation for being unfriendly. Nothing can be further from that statement at the NMSU Library. Excellent customer service is one of our specialties.

I am usually the first point of contact with those who call or email the ASC department. I respond to all requests and decide who is the best person on staff to deliver quality assistance to the request. Sometimes that person is me; sometimes, it is one of our archivists or our Department Head. I enjoy being part of a team of professionals who put our patrons first. It does not matter if you have a PhD, ADHD, or any combination in between. You will receive the same quality service; we are here to serve you and build up a robust Aggie Nation. Contact us at archives@lib.nmsu.edu.

 

Jennifer Olguin, Rio Grande Historical Collections Archivist

Hi, I am Jennifer Olguin and I am the Rio Grande Historical Collections (RGHC) Archivist. I have been part of the ASC for over ten years. I suppose you can say I received my calling to the library profession when I was a senior in high school – little did I know the library profession was going to be my career. During my senior year, I needed an elective so I opted to help in the library by keeping the periodical area in order and checking out books to my fellow classmates (yes at that time we still used checkout cards, which I have to admit I miss).

When I arrived at NMSU, I saw a job posting for a library student aid position. I applied for the position and was offered the job and that is where I first started my academic library career as a student aid while attending NMSU – Go Aggies! As a student aid, I was employed with Technical Services where I served as the student copy cataloger. Upon graduating with my undergraduate degrees in Spanish and Criminal Justice, I soon discovered I wanted to work in the library profession and with that in mind; I applied for a paraprofessional position as a full time cataloger. I spent 2 years or so as a cataloger and then moved on and joined the ASC department in 2010 as a library specialist. I have to admit, I did not know what I was in for when joined the department. As months went on and I was becoming familiar with some of the collections, I soon was intrigued by all the fascinating archival material.

Serving as a library specialist, I learned about the role of the archives and soon enough I was captivated and amazed that such items were available for research purposes. I remember my first day on the job as it was yesterday, I was given the task to finish the physical arrangement of the Elephant Butte Irrigation District records (one of the largest collections we have) which documents the construction, maintenance, finances and other related material. While processing the collection I realized there were many components involved and I enjoyed getting to see the end results. I then knew, this was my niche and where I belonged.

One of the aspects that I love is the fact that I could dive into the past and work with collections along with assisting researchers along the way. One of my favorite things about being part of the ASC team, is that I get to see the reaction of people when they turn the pages of historical documents or when they see an image of their family member in their younger years.

As years passed and while working full time, I worked on obtaining my MLS from the University of North Texas and in 2018 it became a reality. In 2019, I became the RGHC Archivist and I continue to assist researchers, uncover pieces of history and most importantly process and make archival collections accessible to the public. If you would like to know more about the archival holdings we have within the RGHC or need research assistance please contact me via email at jechavez@nmsu.edu.

 

Dylan McDonald, Political Collections Archivist and Special Collections Librarian

Good day Aggie Nation! My name is Dylan McDonald and I have been working as an archivist and librarian in ASC since February 2019. My library career began when I accepted an undergraduate work-study job in the university’s archive. I quickly discovered I loved working with historical documents and photographs, and thankfully, my position remained funded for 18 months. After numerous conversations with the university’s archival staff, I scrapped my plans to head to law school and instead enrolled in a graduate public history program. While many archivists earn library science degrees, I felt the history path best suited my interests. The history course work at Boise State University was supplemented by internships at the Idaho State Historical Society and a job at the Boise Public Library.

After graduation with an MA in History, my first archival position at the Idaho State Archives saw me handling 100-year old maps and drawings of Idaho’s turn-of-the-20th-century reclamation boom. In 2004, I moved to California and became the Deputy City Historian/Manuscripts Archivist at the Center for Sacramento History. Going to work each day felt like such a privilege when surrounded by supportive colleagues and amazing archival material that documented the California Gold Rush-era through the governorship of Ronald Reagan. The position afforded me the chance to work with researchers from around the world, court donors of important historical records, create exhibits and documentaries, teach at Sacramento State University, and coordinate the Sacramento County History Day. After 14 years, the chance to work in academia persuaded me to come to the Southwest and transition into a faculty position at the NMSU Library.

Since arriving in Las Cruces, it has been a crash-course in New Mexico history and a deep-dive into the archival material and special collections held by the library. While my education in border history is just beginning, I can tell you that my love of archival collections remains strong, an easy thing to maintain when surrounded by the diverse holdings of Branson Library. How can one not get excited by over 3,800 colorfully illustrated dime novels from the late 19th and early 20th centuries or the records from the 36-year political career of nationally respected New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, to name just two of the holdings in the Archives and Special Collections? I would be happy to tell you more about our collections, as well as to help you with your research inquiries – so please reach out to me at (575) 646-7711 or dylanmcd@nmsu.edu. I look forward to assisting you with your research needs.


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