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6 students featured with the title #StudentsSpotlights. Pictured clockwise; Alex Cox, Carson Minter, Megan Snyder, Emily Garforth, Anna Gyde, and Abby Lebovitz.

Highlighting the most valuable resource: student workers

Student Spotlights from Special Collections, Preservation & University Archives

During the 2021 spring semester, the Miami University Libraries sat down with six student employees in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections and University Archives to hear their stories and spotlight their work.

Combined, these six students dedicated 2,118 hours to different projects within the Libraries throughout their employment. All the while, they gain experience in traditional preservation methods and modern metadata creation, ensuring collections can be easily searched and accessed.

The students’ many hours of work improve the quantity and quality of materials that the Libraries can offer scholars. Alex Cox ‘23 improved the labor-intensive but vital pull slip system librarians use to retrieve books and materials for class presentations. Carson Minter ‘23 researched, wrote metadata for, and photographed more than a dozen objects in Special Collections and University Archives. His mini-exhibitions showcase and breathe new life into materials previously uncataloged. Megan Snyder ‘22 used her history and research skills to digitize rare materials and create accurate metadata for historical documents.

For the three senior students profiled, it’s evident their tenure at the Libraries will impact their post-graduation pursuits. Abby Lebovitz ‘21 gained valuable professional experience when systemically and accurately creating metadata for some of the Libraries’ largest collections. Creativity enabled Anna Gyde ‘21 to blend her capstone project with her work in the Libraries to assess, create and deploy a fully realized digital communication campaign. Lastly, Emily Garforth ‘21 describes a “full circle moment” when she connected her work with a student diary project to the moment that first inspired her to work in Special Collections and University Archives.

Improving the workspace, creating social posts, digitizing a massive collection of university catalogs — these students’ excitement and passion for their work shine through it all. Dive deep into these six student spotlights by watching the interviews and reading the blogs.

While the Libraries’ student employees certainly learn critical technical skills, a more important lesson lies in the sense of stewardship1 they cultivate. The Society of American Archivists notes that stewardship carries “not only the sense of responsibility but also of power and authority that derives from the role of steward.” This rings true for many of the fields students enter after graduation, from archives to business to engineering. In their engagement with the ethics of preservation these students gain insights that will serve them as lifelong learners and difference-makers in their chosen fields.

Each student engaged with materials in Special Collections, Preservation & University Archives in a way that inspired their passion and sense of professionalism. Their enthusiasm is visible in the videos when they talk about what they have learned on their projects. “The best part of managing students, hands down, is getting to be a witness to their curiosity and see how their areas of interest grow and trying to find ways to encourage that growth,” said Rachel Makarowski, Special Collections Librarian. “We can’t wait to see what path these students take on the way to their careers.”

  1. “Stewardship.” SAA Dictionary: Stewardship, Society of American Archivists, 2021, dictionary.archivists.org/entry/stewardship.html