These past few months have been a wild ride. I’m eternally grateful that I’ve been able to have steady employment throughout the pandemic, especially because I know so many people have not been as privileged as I am to maintain their employment status throughout.
My first day of classes is tomorrow, August 10, and instead of feeling an impending sense of doom or intense anxiety, I’m feeling healthy anticipation. I’ve received syllabi from my professors, and I’m finally excited about what this semester at UNC SILS will bring. A complaint I’ve had for the past year is that the Archives & Records Managements curriculum is sorely outdated and in no way prepares students to deal with contemporary archival issues. Luckily, I decided that I needed to take INLS 754 (Access, Outreach, and Public Service through Cultural Heritage Repositories) [although I had already fulfilled the ARM requirement through INLS 501], and also INLS 690 (Community Archives). I received the syllabus for both of these classes a few days ago, and yesterday I completed the readings. I’m thrilled to say that these courses—so far—seem so utterly refereshing and contemporary that I honestly cannot wait to spend an entire semester delving into this material. When I openend up the first reading for the course, instead of feeling anxious, I felt a great sense of connection, understanding, and purposefulness.
Another crucial course I’m taking this semester is Proposal Development. This course was always going to be necessary, and it was always going to be stressful for me. As an ARM student, my thesis is understandably restricted to topics relating to archives and records management, and truthfully, I wouldn’t to write about a different LIS topic anyways. At first, I had no clue what I wanted to research. However, as COVID-19 hit and continued to impact my workplace (an academic library), I realized that an ideal topic to study would be related to COVID-19. So, my premlinary research questions are:
- How has COVID-19 affected archives’ reference work in a larger academic library setting?
- How has COVID-19 affected archives’ emergency/disaster plans?
I’ve seen both of these topics addressed numerous times by archivists on social media, and I think it is a worthwhile topic to pursue, especially given the novel nature of this pandemic. No one in the United States knows how long it will last, so archives of every nature are having to adapt to unknown circumstances.
Aside from my coursework this fall, I also applied for North Carolina residency yesterday and received a provisional validation! I’m particularly excited about this because I’ve so enjoyed both of my positions at Duke University and at UNC’s Community Histories Workshop—it would be an honor to be able to continue this work and to begin living in Durham. Much as I miss my friends and family in Virginia, I’ve loved my experiences in Durham thus far and would like to explore it more.