The Special Collections Research Center blog series "Student Spotlight" features student employees who contribute to the work of the SCRC. Guest author Laura Lethers, class of 2020, is a graduate NC State student in the Public History Master of Arts program in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Laura has worked as a Graduate Student Desk Assistant in the Special Collections Reading Room since January 2019.
Please describe in a sentence or two the work that you do in the Special Collections Research Center.
As a desk assistant, I help researchers access materials they have requested to use from Special Collections. When I am not assisting researchers I work on processing projects where I help organize or refolder collections.
What has been most interesting to you about your work? What new things have you learned? Have you made any surprising discoveries?
Learning about NC State and how the University has changed over time is fascinating to me. For instance, when I helped process the Office of Alumni Relations General Records, I learned that the NC State University sign on Western Boulevard was a gift from alumni. At the time, the students were unhappy about what they viewed as a misallocation of funds. Situations like this one that were contested at the time often fall out of the general memory of the campus, so I find it especially interesting when I come across one and am able to learn about a portion of the University’s history.
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?
As someone who once came to Special Collections to research with trepidation, I would say that everyone should feel welcome to request materials and use the University’s collections. The Special Collections staff are more than happy to assist researchers in finding what they need, and the collections are held with the purpose of being used.
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 enrolled in a dual degree program between NC State’s Public History M.A. and UNC Chapel Hill’s Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) degree with the goal of one day working as an archivist. Special Collections introduced me to the type of work that I hope to do as a career, and I discovered that I enjoy it very much.