COLUMBUS, Miss. – Derek Webb, The W’s archivist, hopes to stay on top of current practices as well as improve the service provided to the university and surrounding community thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Historical Records Advisory Board.
Webb will use the $500 travel grant to help defray costs for him to attend the Society of American Archivists Meeting in New Orleans Aug. 11-17. The meeting will feature numerous presentations and sessions on subjects such as preserving collections, streamlining processing of new acquisitions and collecting oral histories.
“As with many fields, archives management is constantly improving and adapting, and it's great that MSHRAB is providing this money to keep Mississippi archivists plugged into the wider profession,” Webb said. “I'm excited about it. This will be my first opportunity to attend the conference, and without the grant it would have been much more difficult to manage, even with it being so close this year.”
The travel grant and upcoming conference couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Webb, who said big changes are in store for The W’s archives this fall.
Currently, they are in the final stages of securing office space in another building in which to house the archives until the library renovations are completed, at which point they will be permanently rehoused on the second floor of the library.
“Moving the archives to a new space is a Herculean undertaking, as we'll have to go folder by folder making sure the papers are free of contaminants before we can move them. We're going to need a lot of help from interns and volunteers,” he said.
Archives will play a major role in the new public history concentration offered by the History, Political Science, and Geography Department that begins this fall. This project will involve students "getting their hands dirty" interning in the archives, Webb added.
Their department also won a grant to participate in the Conservation Assessment Program through Heritage Preservation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
“It pays for two preservation consultants to visit The W’s facilities this September and prepare a report that will help them develop strategies for improved collections care and provide a tool for long-range planning and fundraising,” he said.
Webb continues to be excited about helping preserve the university’s history. In less than one year, he has gone from being a part-time archivist to full-time or a “lone arranger” in archives-speak, being the only paid staff member. And last winter, Professor Emerita Martha Jo Mims started identifying unidentified photographs on a volunteer basis, and they are now getting a steady trickle of student interns.
For more information about The W’s archives, contact Webb at (662) 241-6288.
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