Two graduate students from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro spent a week in March at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries, learning about archives by doing the hands-on work of processing a collection.
Allison Cruse and Monique LeBlanc immersed themselves in the Roland Holt Collection of Performing Arts Ephemera. The materials are part of the Rare Book Collection at the Wilson Special Collections Library.
Holt, a New York publishing executive and theater critic, collected the assorted playbills, scrapbooks and photographs in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. His wife donated them to Carolina Playmakers in the 1930s, following Holt’s death. The materials came to the Library shortly thereafter but were never organized or cataloged, and therefore could not be used.
The students prepared a preliminary inventory that will give potential researchers a general sense of the collection.
Cruse and LeBlanc are enrolled in the master of library and information studies program at UNC Greensboro and appreciated the practical complement to their coursework.
“I’ve always had an interest in archiving and touching the materials,” said LeBlanc. “I’ve always been interested in people’s stories. That’s the important information that people want when they come to use a collection.”
For Cruse, the experience of working in an archive and learning from seasoned mentors provided information for choosing a career path. “You get to verify that the day-to-day task is the right fit for you and that you’re connecting to it. It’s given me a lot of direction that I don’t feel like I had coming into this experience,” she said.
Doug Diesenhaus, the Library’s interim director of human resources, said that hosting students like Cruse and LeBlanc is also a way that Carolina can provide an important service to the state and to the profession.
“By having students from other programs come and gain practical experience and training in Chapel Hill, we are building ongoing relationships with libraries and library school programs across the state,” he said. “It’s a way to give back to North Carolina, and also to develop the students who will someday be our professional colleagues.”
Students in professional library and archival programs in North Carolina seeking an internship opportunity at the University Libraries should contact Diesenhaus at (919) 962-6585 or firstname.lastname@example.org.