To be an archivist: Deborah Davis

Our third post in the series “What does it mean to be an archivist at your repository?” is by Deborah Davis, the Director of Valdosta State University’s Archives and Special Collections.  Along with providing insights into what means to be the archivist at VSU’s archives, this post also highlights what it means to be an archival manager.

What does it mean to be an (the) archivist at Valdosta State University?
The VSU Archives is a mid-sized archives with 1 full time equivalent (fte) archivist, 2 fte staff members, 1 ½ time graduate assistant and 1.5 fte student workers.  One staff member and 35 hours of student labor are devoted to our digitizing and digital preservation program, including the website and social media.  These workers do 2/3 of the scanning for reference questions as well.  One staff member, the graduate assistant and 20 student assistant hours are devoted to paper processing and preservation and reference questions.  They handle processing on our Archon system. 
Well, a good question about now is what does the archivist do?  I’m a bit of a gadfly moving into all those areas.  I handle all teaching, about 50 classes per year including research, volunteer orientations, and work project design and teaching.  I handle all planning and design of our outreach programs, from sitting on inauguration committees and working across campus to commemorate 50 years of integration to designing exhibits and soliciting artwork for our 6 library art galleries. I design all exhibits, with assistance in mounting them.  I handle all administration, from writing annual reports to designing our assessment program to hiring and evaluating all staff and students. I supervise staff and students and assign and prioritize their duties.  I answer reference questions as needed, a few a week.  I work with the digitizing arm of our archives to set priorities, assign tasks, and evaluate results.  I occasionally process, mainly adding to collections when I come across something that needs doing, usually in the course of a reference question.  I handle all acquisitions, from negotiations to the move to setting processing priorities.  I purchase items for our Special Collections (Georgia Collection) and our rare book collection.  I write grants and handle our endowment spending.  I handle press outreach for our archives and our exhibits.
As a faculty member (I’m a full professor), I sit on and chair library and university committees.  Part of a faculty member’s duties are service and research.  I’ve just returned from teaching a week-long workshop to the archival community in Belize, and I work with the Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation as their treasurer, archivist, and web master (with assistance from my staff) and have been helping to design and solicit classes in library training for that country.  I’ve worked for 15 years with a group that presents field trips for Georgia 7th graders on Asia and Africa.  We have several African art collections that we use with approximately 2000 students a year in this program.  For research, I’ve written a book and several articles, made over 50 presentations at state, regional, and national conferences, and I serve as the archivist for the Georgia Library Association.   I also teach the semester-long Archival Theory and Issues class for the VSU MLIS program every two years.

If I had to sum up my role as the archivist, I would say my work is to serve as the public face and advocate of the VSU archives.  Whether I am that face in front of a class or in another country, I’m always representing the needs of my archives.  My job is varied and in a lot of cases not the traditional processing/description role of an archivist.  In fact, my staff is better at those traditional tasks now than I am—even though I initially trained them.   But I love my job and love its diverse roles.  It’s never boring.  My favorite part is mentoring the staff and students I meet who want to be part of this profession.  Right now both my staff and my graduate assistant are in the MLIS program, specializing in Archives, and several of my student workers want to join them.  Students from my MLIS class have gone on to get jobs at UGA, the State Archives and other archives around the state.  I think that’s my biggest accomplishment and my biggest contribution to the profession.      
Thank you to Deborah for sharing what it means to be an archivist at Valdosta State University Archives and Special Collections!  Want to share what your own experience is like working as an archivist?  Submit your “What it means to be an archivist at my repository?” post to us at outreach [at] soga [dot] org.

Earn Your MLIS in Georgia

The University of North Texas Department of Library and Information Sciences is beginning a new cohort in September 2010 in Georgia.  Through this outstanding program, students can earn a master’s degree by participating in two four-day institutes to be held in Atlanta, GA – August 13 – 16, 2010 and January 7-9, 2011 at the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center.  YES!!! UNT will bring its ALA accredited Master’s program and popular online format back to Georgia beginning Fall 2010.  
You can earn your Master’s by participating in two four-day Web Institutes and complete the rest of your degree online!  The Web Institute portion of the Master’s program includes an orientation, technology training, and instruction in the Master’s program core courses, as well as time to socialize with your Institute classmates and faculty.  Students will enroll in the University of North Texas, Department of Library and Information Sciences blended learning program, a 36 credit-hour program combining: distance learning (on-line) courses delivered via the Web (at least two courses per semester for six academic semesters) in addition to the two intensive in-person four-day Web Institutes. 

Information Sessions
Come find out more about the UNT/LIS graduate program at information sessions to be held in your area.  There will be information sessions on the following days in North Atlanta, Athens, August, Columbus, and Macon from April 13 – 17:
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
12:00pm – 2:00pm
University of Georgia Libraries Administrative Offices Conference/Meeting Room 320 S. Jackson Street
Athens, GA
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
3:00pm – 4:30pm
Athens Regional Library System
Bogart Library – Small Conference Room
200 South Burson Avenue
Bogart, GA 30622
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
11:30am – 1:30 pm
Chattahoochee Valley Library System
North Columbus Branch Library
Small Conference Room
5689 Armour Road
Columbus , Georgia 31909
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
4pm – 6pm
Middle Georgia Regional -Washington Memorial Library
Board/Meeting Room
1180 Washington Avenue
Macon, Georgia  31201
Thursday, April 15, 2010
10:00am – 1:00 pm
Paine College
Collins Callaway Library –Room 106
1235 Fifteenth Street
Augusta, GA 30901
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Augusta State University
Jaguar Student Center in the  Coffeehouse
2500 Walton Way
Augusta, GA 30904
Thursday, April 15, 2010
4:30 – 6:30 pm
Wallace Branch Library 1237 Laney Walker Blvd.
Augusta, GA 30901
Friday, April 16, 2010
10:00am – Noon
Atlanta Fulton Public Library – Ocee Branch Library
5090 Abbotts Bridge Rd.
Johns Creek GA 30005-4601
Friday, April 16, 2010
3:00pm – 5:00pm
Hall County Library System
Sprout Springs Branch
Meeting Room B
6488 Spout Springs Rd.
Flowery Branch, Ga. 30542
Information About Applying to the UNT/LIS Master’s Degree Program
For directions and more information about the University of North Texas Graduate School and Department of Library and Information Sciences application process go to the webpage –  Information about the master’s program and application process to UNT are located on the LIS webpage. You will find information about the program, information sessions, the application, and information about how to apply for admission to the University and to the master’s program. Be sure to review the Master’s Admission Checklist page on the UNT/SLIS homepage at   The Master’s Admission Checklist will give you step by step instructions on the application process for the Univ. of North Texas. 

The Checklist is where you begin the application process.  You should review the application instructions and start collecting supporting materials to submit with your application.
A.     The UNT – Toulouse School of Graduate Studies is the first school that you must submit an application and be admitted in order to qualify for evaluation for the IMLS scholarship. 
• The directions for applying to the Graduate School are located at:
• The online application to Graduate School is at: 
• Complete official transcripts from all colleges and universities you attended must be submitted to:
Toulouse School of Graduate Studies
University of North Texas
P.O. Box 305459
Denton, TX 76203-5459
• Official score reports from either the Graduate Record Examination – (The UNT school code for the GRE is 6481) or the Miller’s Analogies Test – must be submitted to the Graduate School.
Information about GRE and MAT testing centers as well as practice materials is available at:
GRE:  (Test sites are available in South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana)
MAT:  (Testing sites are available in South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho)
If a test date for one of the entrance exams is not available in your area, you can be admitted as a “non-degree seeking student and submit your test score before the completion of your first semester of courses. 
B.     The UNT – Department of Library and Information Sciences application is at:  The application to SLIS cannot be completed online – you must fill it out online, print it out, and send it.
·       You must submit three recommendation forms.  Letters should be from former professors or others who can evaluate your academic qualifications and from job supervisors who can assess your potential for success as an information professional.  The forms are located at 
C.     You will need to submit a one-to-two-page essay stating your purpose and goals in applying to our program.  In your statement, include the nature of your interest, how you became interested in the field, your short- and long-term goals, the strengths that you would bring to the information profession, and how the UNT program will help meet your career and educational objectives.
For more information about the master’s degree program, information feel free to contact either:

Dr. Yvonne Chandler – via email at or by phone at 940-565-3777   Charlotte Thomas – via email at or by phone at 940-369-7275.