Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The end of a date range

by Rachel Fellman

I've always been shy about calling myself an archivist. At first, I wasn't sure this was what I wanted to do, and then I was still a student worker. A student worker is a funny thing, like the first evolution of a Pokemon. You can already be good at what you do; you can already be ambitious, well-informed, and curious. (After all, Pikachu is a first-level Pokemon, and there's no doubt that Pikachu knows what he's doing.) But you don't have all your flair yet, or your advanced attacks, where "flair" is a job title and "advanced attacks" are health care benefits.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: "Linus, I don't understand the
true meaning of respect des fonds."

But now, I have evolved from Rachel to Raichu: I'm moving to California to become Assistant Archivist at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. I am immensely proud and excited to be an archivist working with comics, a medium I've always loved (and closely associated with my love of libraries).

The archives there is unique. It's concerned with a single person, so the collections are deep and focused, but Schulz' work has permeated American culture for decades, so there's also a breadth to the project, an absence of claustrophobia. The museum is an active part of the local community, hosting comics events, movie nights, and themed free days. My favorite of the latter is the one for February: free admission for redheads, in honor of the Little Redheaded Girl. (She's based on a real person, if you were wondering -- the head Schulz archivist interviewed her for their oral history project.)

OHSU has been a perfect place to serve out my apprenticeship. I'll miss the staff, my mentors, the collections, and the anecdotes. For the rest of my life, whenever a conversation flags, I can just apply the story of the Medical Anti-Shock Trousers. If you'd like to keep track of me, you can check the SAA Students and New Archives Professionals Section blog, which I'm editing until the end of this year, and where you'll notice I've already mentioned the trousers.

As a final note, I'd just like to add that of the Peanuts cast, Linus is the most likely to become an archivist. He's thoughtful and philosophical, and he takes good care of his blanket. More to the point, though, he recognizes that collections are there to be used, even at the expense of some degree of preservation. As archivists, we can all look up to that.