LaNesha Gale DeBardelaben 2014-02-10 10:55:16
When I learned that I was a recipient of the Society of American Archivists’ Mosaic Scholarship, I was beyond ecstatic. The award was one of the most meaningful I have received, and it confirmed my space in the archives field as an African American woman. Earning it felt like an auspicious welcome into an exciting profession that would allow me to integrate my lifelong passion with my skill set. Since receiving the award in 2010, I have made strides to live up to its ideals. The award is given to applicants who demonstrate excellent potential for scholastic and personal achievement and who manifest a commitment both to the archives profession and to advancing diversity concerns within it. I graduated from the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science program and serve as director of archives and libraries for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan. I have attended all subsequent SAA conferences in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and have enjoyed my experiences as a member of the SAA Mosaic Selection Committee. I have gleaned many lessons from my time as a new archivist and recent Mosaic Scholarship recipient. The first is that enthusiasm is an essential component to being an archivist who imparts influence. Enthusiasm is an attractive quality. We as archivists are in the business of attracting donors to entrust their collections to us, attracting users to take advantage of our repository’s holdings, and attracting grant monies and collaborative partners to broaden our reach. Genuine enthusiasm is necessary to be effective in any of these areas. When archivists are enthusiastic about their work and their collections, they draw in others and are more likely to produce successful outcomes. Secondly, to be an archivist of influence, one must cultivate a passion for advocacy. Enthusiasm naturally leads to advocacy. When archivists are enthusiastic, they are more likely to be passionate about advancing the mission of their work and their collections. It is the duty of the archivist to articulate the importance of archives not only to the general public, but also to internal and external stakeholders within larger organizational structures. Archivists must be advocates both for preserving the past and for enabling greater access to informational research sources that can elevate humanity. Lastly, archivists must continually refine their technical skills to expand their influence. As web 2.0 and social media outlets Proliferate, archivists must remain as skilled as possible in information-based technologies. It enhances our abilities to connect with users, and it validates our relevancy to meeting their needs. We as archivists can spark and sustain transformation if we hone our abilities, tools, and resources effectively. We must, however, be creative problem solvers, as issues will demand innovative strategies and novel approaches. Through digitization and descriptive meta data efforts, archives will become even more accessible as resources that serve the foundation promote rich, vibrant, and well-founded scholarship. It is, indeed, an exciting time to be an archivist, to be a responsible steward who collects, organizes, preserves, and makes accessible valuable treasures that shape memory and identity. I am more prepared for the journey ahead as a result of receiving the SAA Mosaic Scholarship.
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