Student Spotlight: Carter Claiborne, Special Collections Desk Assistant

Carter Claiborne ('21) had worked as a Special Collections Desk Assistant in the Special Collections Reading Room beginning in September 2019.

Please note that due to the NC State University Coronavirus Response, the NC State University Libraries Special Collections Research Center is closed but staff are working remotely and are able to assist with some reference support. No student desk assistants are currently working at the Public Services desk due to the coronavirus situation. The Public Services desk is currently closed. 

The Special Collections Research Center blog series "Student Spotlight" features student employees who contribute to the work of the SCRC. Guest author Carter Claiborne, class of 2021, is an undergraduate NC State student majoring in Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. Carter had worked as a Student Desk Assistant in the Special Collections Reading Room beginning in September 2019. 

Please describe in a sentence or two the work that you do in the Special Collections Research Center.

At the Special Collections Research Center we mainly process materials, either by further organizing and cataloging existing collections or by helping organize newly-acquired collections. We also assist researchers who visit campus in finding and using their materials as needed.

What has been most interesting to you about your work? Have you made any surprising discoveries?

The most interesting thing to me so far has been seeing all of the interesting pieces of NC State history that our Special Collections houses, from clubs to fraternities to administrative records. For example, I’ve used some of our digitized collections to read about the school’s history in football and basketball, and it’s really interesting to see how things have changed over time. Probably the most surprising thing I’ve learned is that the first international student to graduate from NC State, Teisaku Sugishita, graduated in 1898 and spent some time as a quarterback for the football team.

Teisaku Sugishita, College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts Class of 1898

If you met someone who was unfamiliar with archives and special collections, what would you want them to know? What should new researchers know about the work you do?

If I could tell students just one thing about special collections, it’s that you don’t have to be a historian or a researcher to come down to Special Collections. We have tons of materials related to almost every part of the school’s history plus several collections on other topics as well, ranging from comic books to forestry management and everything in between, all available for students to access.

What are you studying, and what do you hope to do in your future career? Has your work in the SCRC changed how you look at your studies or your future career plans in any way?

I am studying Mechanical Engineering here at NC State, and in the future I hope to either work in an industrial setting, where I can help a company design and maintain large pieces of manufacturing equipment, or work in a role related to engineering design.  Working in the SCRC has helped me to be analytical, especially when organizing a new collection, and helped improve my attention to detail in day-to-day work.