. . . my interview with early INALJ cheerleader, success story and inspirational librarian, Rachael. Rachael is an Archivist and I am extremely interested in the work she is doing as an Oregon Wine History Archivist
Naomi: What is your dream job and why?
Rachael: This is a tough one! I am incredibly lucky to claim that so far in my career I have had the opportunity to work at two amazing places: the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives of the Smithsonian Institution, and the Linfield College Archives and Special Collections.
The Smithsonian fits the dream job bill for an obvious reason: it is every history nerd’s playground. The materials I worked with were exhilarating, and the brilliant people that work there provided endless amounts of genius to push projects further. But what made the Smithsonian my dream job was that it provided me opportunities to collaborate with partners across the institution and abroad. I was able to put together some pretty amazing projects because the collections and cooperative spirit inspired me to do so. (You can see examples of these projects on my Linkedin profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/rachaelcristinewoody).
I just started my new position at the Linfield College Archives in November 2011, and it is my new dream job for a multitude of reasons. The first and most obvious is that I’m a NW girl; I grew up here and I feel a connection to Linfield’s history and community. What may not be so obvious, and important to consider when analyzing your next career move, is the potential for you to grow. At Linfield I have been given the honor to start their Archives program from the ground up. It’s an exciting challenge, and an opportunity to grow into as we make the Archives an integral part of the College and the community. Although the prospect may seem daunting, I have a supportive boss and Library team; a required aspect in my dream job scenario. Also, I can’t help but mentioning the Oregon Wine History Archive – what other job would require winery visits as a primary job function? (See a portion of the digitized material for the Oregon Wine History Project at the Linfield Digital Commons: http://digitalcommons.linfield.edu/willamette/).
To summarize, my dream job is any job where I’m allowed the freedom to try creative outreach programs, partner with peers on groundbreaking projects, engage with users of archives and libraries, and be immersed in historical documents. I’ve been fortunate that both of my career jobs thus far have had all of those elements. And believe me, I am perpetually thankful to serendipity on helping me out thus far.
Naomi: If you could take any of your hobbies and create a job out of them or integrate it into your job what would it be? And how?
Rachael: I love baking and singing (I am a classically trained soprano). If I didn’t have to worry about the copious problems food brings into the library then I would love to have a regular tea time where I could whip up a batch of that day’s baked good. Baking is an enjoyable stress release for me, and I would love to feed the hard-working researchers and staff. How would singing fit in? Maybe I can incorporate that into a future fundraising event…
Naomi: Favorite library you have been to?
Rachael: Do ancient libraries count? If they do, I would have to say the Celsus Library of Ephesus, Turkey. There is something so mystical there and I enjoy imaging the library in all of its grandeur. I also think it’s an excellent demonstration of the longevity libraries and archives possess. Archives have been around since ancient Sumer (4th to 2nd millenium BC), and there has got to be something to that regarding the current argument on whether libraries and archives are becoming obsolete. As always, I believe we will evolve.
Naomi: Favorite book?
Rachael: The Lorax. Even when I was young I would get fired up about the injustices in the world, and many of Dr. Suess’ books resonated with me. Good books stay with you long after they’re read; gradually effecting the way you think about and live your life.
Naomi: Favorite thing about libraries/ library technology?
Rachael: The community connections they make. I know librarians and archivists have typically been stereotyped as basement dwellers who avoid human contact, but I would counter that with the fact that libraries have always been a center of community. As libraries and archives move further into information science, they are continuing the community connection in a virtual sense. For example the Linfield Library encourages connections in several ways from reference chat online to interacting on Facebook and Twitter. (You can see these connection on their webpage: http://www.linfield.edu/linfield-libraries.html).
Naomi: Best piece of job hunting advice?
Rachael: I have two. The first is advice in general as you prepare yourself for your dream career: take classes and participate in activities that interest you. You can never anticipate how they may factor into your career 5, 10, 20 years from now. For example I did my undergraduate senior thesis (2005) on the mythology of ancient Sumer. In 2010 I successfully completed a grant to 3D image the Freer|Sackler’s entire collection of squeezes; many from Sumer (modern Iraq). (See the Squeeze Imaging Project here: http://asia.si.edu/research/squeezeproject/).
My second piece of advice and more focused on the hunt is: always keep in touch with your larger professional community. Make an effort to keep up to date on peer’s projects, hot topics, and emerging trends. Even if you’re not looking for a new job now, you may be in the future and the preparation you do now will make you an engaged professional peer (the best kind!), and it will cut down on the amount of catch up you’ll need to do to be a competitive candidate.
Rachael Cristine Woody is an archivist at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. Before returning to her native Northwest, Rachael was previously the archivist for the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. While there she chaired the Smithsonian Institution Archives and Special Collections council, creating their October American Archives Month programs; and was the Smithsonian Collections Blog coordinator for its inaugural 2010-2011 year resulting in a published case study on how to measure the blog’s success ( http://interactivearchivist.archivists.org/case-studies/create-and-measure-success/).
Her career interests are exploring innovative ways for archival outreach, and critical thinking on archives evolution. She received an MSLIS with an archives management concentration from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College, and a BA in History from Pacific University.
Photo used with permission. Reposted from 3/27/12 & 8/28/12 & 2/11/13. Formerly titled, Rachael Cristine Woody …In Six