By Ashley Shull,
Special Collections Coordinator at the Athens Regional Library System
About halfway through the instructional days of the Georgia Archives Institute, I blurted out, “I never thought to use a call slip!!” shaking my head with a negative, I can’t believe dumbfoundedness. These are the simple things I missed because I haven’t received formal training in archives. As a Library and Information Services graduate who now works as the Archives and Special Collections Coordinator at the Athens-Clarke County Library my knowledge of archives was tangential and more closely related to that of a user and interested librarian. The Institute was the one experience I needed in order to feel fully confident in my position. Georgia Archives Institute provided me with confidence through interactive classroom instruction, which promoted an atmosphere of collegiality, and the best internship placement culminating in hands-on experience.
Pamela Hackbart-Dean, Tina Seetoo, and Dorothy Waugh provided deep knowledge in a quick six days of instruction. Covering the basics, relating theory to practice, and bringing their expertise to the forefront enabled me to walk out of the Georgia Archives the first week fully saturated in theory and ideas, if not also a little bleary eyed, to bring back to my home institution. I was lucky to be assigned to the Auburn Avenue Research Library with Archives Manager Derek Mosley. Auburn Avenue was the best internship assignment for me. The opportunity to work within a special collection library at a public library system was invaluable. Derek welcomed my many questions about collections, processing, workflows, and management and answered them with expert grace. While peppering Derek with all of these questions I also processed and described a small collection of Georgia House Representatives member Lorenzo Benn’s papers. This collection was unique as it contained mostly correspondence from Rep. Benn’s time in office–he wrote many a thank you note and served on a variety of committees.
I also learned a great deal from my fellow Georgia Archives Institute participants. Even though many of us come from academic, public, and private institutions we connected on commonalities within our archives and shared experiences. Many conversations were had about the different levels of processing whether More Product, Less Process was better than Item Level–the consensus was, “it depends.”
Ultimately my time at GAI was the most informative, inspiring, and fun professional development experiences I’ve ever had. The professional relationships I have developed and the knowledge and resources learned will prove to be invaluable over my career. Thank you Society of Georgia Archivists and Georgia Archives Institute for this outstanding learning experience.