In celebration of American Archives Month, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries will showcase rarely seen items at Night at the Archives.
The event, hosted by University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections and History Nebraska, will be from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10. The event will take place at the History Nebraska Headquarters, also known as the Nebraska History Museum, and in the lower level of Love Library South in rooms 18 and 29.
According to University Libraries outreach archivist Traci Robison, the open house event will allow attendees to get a behind the scenes view of the work that makes archival collections available for research and preserved for the future. It will also offer the opportunity to converse with archivists who will be showcasing some of their favorite and most unique archived items.
Most of the time, people see information that has already been archived and is ready to be used in research, she said.
“This event shows the process from when materials arrive in archives, and how we organize them and describe them so it's easier for researchers to use, as well as the things we do to preserve items long term,” Robison said. “It's a good opportunity for people to see a broad scope of our collection at once.”
Robison said the event is for people who are involved in history, archives or genealogy and people who have questions for archivists. Additionally, she said some collections contain information related to recognized student organizations that may be of interest to students involved in them.
“We can also answer questions people have about archives,” she said. “Even questions about how to take care of or digitize your own materials that may be historic.”
According to Robison, everyone on the Archives and Special Collections staff will play a role in the event. She said archivist and special collections librarian Mary Ellen Ducey will set out pieces from collections of archives, digital archivist Blake Graham will demonstrate some of his digitization work and assistant archivist Pete Brink will be showing accessions.
Additionally, Robison said archive specialist Katie Jones will go over organization, how to get information out to people and preservation. Archives manager Josh Caster will also describe how to prepare for a research visit and how to get access to the UNL’s archived items.
“Each of us is going to get out some items we either especially like or think people will be especially interested in,” Robison said. “I’m going to get out a glass plate negative to show that the original format looks like this, but then we go through a process of scanning and inverting the image.”
Robison said there was a good turnout at a similar History Nebraska event last year. Since UNL often works with History Nebraska, and History Nebraska’s archives are near Love Library, she said History Nebraska reached out to form a partnership with Archives and Special Collections for this event.
Although Archives and Special Collections has had smaller open houses before, Robison said this event is going to be its first large-scale look at all the behind the scenes work that they do.
Additionally, Robison said she thinks a lot of people will be interested in the digitization work Graham has been doing.
Graham will showcase various equipment, including a cassette player, a computer showing oral history interviews with indigenous communities and a computer showing how VHS digitization happens.
Overall, Robison believes that people who attend the event will have the opportunity to learn about something they may never have known about before.
“I’m excited about people showing up and asking questions,” she said. “One of my favorite things is to hear what other people are interested in and help them.”
This article was modified at 10:29 a.m. to correct that Pete Brink will show accessions.