Interview with Christine D’Arpa, Instructor for Our Class in Archival Management

Christine D’Arpa is the instructor for the upcoming Library Juice Academy Course, “So Now I Am an Archivist, Too?! Introduction to Archives Administration and Management.” She is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She worked in the archives at UIUC. She graciously agreed to be interviewed for this blog.

Chris, the course you’re teaching is an introduction to archival management for people who have that as a job responsibility and want a better foundation for it. I wonder if you could tell readers, from your own experience, why you feel such a course is needed.

We’ve seen the boundaries between libraries (including special collections) and archives greying in recent years at all levels. Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland have all merged their national archives and libraries. There are examples at the state and local levels here in the States. Most are driven by budgetary concerns that often ignore the significant differences among these very distinct types of institutions.

That said, it is important to carry forward the knowledge and practices of each sector to ensure the integrity of the materials, the continued growth of the collections, and access to them. To my mind, archives are the most vulnerable to this transition. The more we can learn about archival theory and practice the better the prospect for that integrity being preserved.

This course is a step in that direction.

Makes sense. So what are some of the skills that participants will get out of this class?

This is such a short course but I am confident we can cover key aspects of archival theory and practice and explore where the profession and management of archives are headed.

What are the theories, methods and practices that guide archival administration?
How is that work different from what librarians, manuscript curators, and rare book librarians do?
What is records management and why should we care?

Specifically:
What are archives and manuscripts, and why are they important?
What principles and concepts guide the work of archivists and manuscript curators?
What are the basic components of an archival program?
How are archival records and manuscripts appraised, arranged and described, and made available for use?

The course will include information on resources that will allow practitioners to connect with the archival community for networking, continuing education, and information sharing. We will touch on the following questions:

What are the basic elements of a records management program?
How do I effectively manage an archival program?
Where is the archival profession headed?

That sounds great. I’d like to share a bit more information about you as the instructor. What are you working on in your Ph.D. program, and how did you get to this point?

My research interests seek to understand how archives, libraries, and other public information institutions can help reinvigorate public commitment to civic education and engagement, and participation in public policy development. My teaching builds on the knowledge and experience that students bring to the class and challenges them to engage and critically examine new ideas and perspectives. I firmly believe archives and LIS education need to focus on developing leaders with vision and skills to be advocates who are actively engaged in public policy development.

Cool. Finally, I’d like to ask about your dream course for Library Juice Academy. If you could design and teach any course here what would it be?

My heart is with communities and the voices of individuals in them. I have worked as an oral historian and I hold Studs Terkel as my model for that work. A course I think about and hope to teach someday is something along the lines of oral history practice as community engagement and community building in and for public libraries.

Sounds like an interesting course idea, and we should discuss it.

Thanks for giving us your time for this interview, Chris.

Thank you, it’s been a pleasure.

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