Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

There You Are

            Lately when I am not in class at Simmons, it feels like I’m only ever at my job. It isn’t technically a bad feeling in itself. I work, essentially, as records management at a financial firm right off the Boston Commons. When you squint, my job responsibilities look like archival work. I am tasked with taking the old files from my office basement, some older than myself and all slightly funky with various degrees of water damage, and digitizing, organizing, then shredding them. My closest colleague is our network room printer. He is large and one of the more temperamental machines that I have had the pleasure of toiling beside. I don’t do much appraising, just checking that the tax returns are over seven years old before I send them to the document organizer where all files go to die.

            The problem is that this feeling of constant work is paired with the second semester of graduate school conviction that I am terribly behind everyone else. My work does not have a museum or university name next to it on my resume. While my classmates are working in libraries and repositories, I am with accounting interns all day long. Not terrible company, but I feel a little disconnected from my goals when I’m sitting at the desk of my LLC.

            To alleviate this avalanche of imposter syndrome, today at work I started to listen to the Archives in Context podcast produced by the Society of American Archivists. There are a lot of great episodes and interviews in their feed. But today when I needed a little extra reminder of why I am at Simmons chasing this specific dream, I tuned into their “Finding Aid to My Soul” three-part series. It was an archival riff on the Chicken Soup for the Soul formula, where archivists shared memories from the field in a storytelling hour at one of the annual conferences.

            All of the stories were great. More than a few made me laugh to myself at my scanning station. And one did remind me exactly why this is my chosen career, even if it is not my current employment. That story was told by a grad student, according to the show notes. She talked about tearing up when learning something new and important, and looking at archival work as a way of putting knowledge out into the world. She recounted one experience of opening a record and seeing a picture that changed the entire way she viewed the subject of the collection. It was as simple as opening a folder and thinking, “There you are”. For her, that moment solidified why archives are important. With our work, we are connecting people to that “There you are” something. Maybe they never realized this moment of discovery is what they had been looking for, but our work makes these moments of research epiphany possible. Without archivists, that knowledge might be lost to history.

Sitting in my quiet office on a grey Monday afternoon, this podcast episode felt like my “There you are”. I have a stretch of library school still ahead of me, and the resources of Simmons at my disposal. An internship will come. And then after that, a job in a real archive. If I have to spend some time before then in a comfortable but unrelated job, so be it. There are worse places to listen to inspiring archives podcasts.