The Special Collections Research Center blog series "Student Spotlight" features student employees who contribute to the work of the SCRC. Guest author Taylor Wolford, class of 2021, is a graduate NC State University student studying Public History in the joint MA/MILS program with the School of Information and Library Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill. Taylor has worked as a Library Associate for SCRC at the Administrative Services Annex (ASX) since August 2018.
Please describe in a sentence or two the work that you do in the Special Collections Research Center.
My main role as a Library Associate is to house, arrange, and describe manuscript collections to ensure researcher access. During the quarantine, I have been working remotely on updating manuscript catalog records, reviewing and updating old collection guides, and researching the oral history collection practices of other institutions.
What has been most interesting to you about your work? What new things have you learned? Have you made any surprising discoveries?
Every day working in the archives is exciting and full of discovery, so one of the most interesting aspects of my job is interacting on a daily basis with a variety of archival collections that cover topics like zoological health and architecture and design. I’ve processed collections that contain some of the earliest animal tranquilizer darts, notable modernist architecture designs, and even design renderings on napkins.
Working as a Library Associate, I have learned how to house, arrange, describe, and present collections that are unique and often irreplaceable to researchers. In addition, I’ve learned about the value of continuing education, for there are always new topics and practices to learn about that enrich our work.
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?
When I first visited an archive, I was a little intimidated by the materials and all of the rules, but please know that our services are available to all researchers. We are dedicated to supporting the research and teaching needs of the university community and other scholars, so feel free to reach out for research consultations or assistance using this form.
During normal operations, physical collections at the Special Collections Research Center are open to all researchers through this request form [Note: As part of the NC State University Libraries' Coronavirus Response, our physical collections are not currently accessible but researchers can still make great use of our Rare & Unique Digital Materials. Please visit our Using Materials page to learn the most current information about accessing our physical collections, or contact us to learn more.]. I encourage anyone who is interested in archives or history to request some materials and interact with a collection in the SCRC reading room, or view our online digital collections. Because the processing team works to ensure collections are available to researchers as soon as possible, collections are frequently undergoing various levels of processing.
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 graduating this semester with a master’s in Public History at NC State University, and I am also pursuing a master’s in Library Science with a concentration in archival studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. I would love to work as a military historian or military collections archivist, and I have a strong interest in collecting oral histories and working directly with veteran communities.
My work with the SCRC in combination with my graduate studies in Public History have enriched the way that I work with archival collections. Since I have been trained to view a collection as both historian and archivist, I am able to organize and describe information as an archive student, while the research skills learned as a history student help me understand researchers' needs.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your work with the SCRC?
I first interned with the SCRC in 2017 as an undergraduate student studying English Literature, and I returned after I was accepted into a graduate program in 2018. For me, visiting and working in the archives has been a transformative educational experience that has shaped my future career path. If you have the opportunity, working for the SCRC as a student is a great opportunity to develop new skills and learn more about the university and research community.