Since the start of 2017, several new staff members have joined the Digital Services Section. All of us will be making regular blog posts on History For All the People, so we thought it would be nice for each of us to introduce ourselves, describe our roles in DSS, and preview the projects we’re working on.
Introducing Rose Fortier: Metadata Archivist in the Digital Services Section
I’m starting my fourth week with the State Archives of North Carolina. It’s an interesting time in this latest chapter of my work history. Things are starting to come together, and I feel like I’m getting to the point where I can contribute to the team here, instead of spending all my time asking questions.
One of the reasons I was excited to start working here was that I knew I’d get to handle all sorts of fascinating historical documents in the course of digitizing them and making them available for access online. The course of my career in libraries and archives is approaching thirteen years (which is a little scary when I sit down and think about it), and I’ve spent much of that time working with digital collections.
I started out as a baby librarian doing work for the Milwaukee Public Library. Yes, that’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin, home of beer, brats, and cheese. I’m not from there originally, but that’s where I had my first job fresh out of library school. I was assigned to work in the Humanities Department, a subject unit at the Central Library that worked mainly with local history and genealogy materials. After not too long, I found myself in charge of the Historic Photo Archives there, which led to my first forays in digitization. Eventually, I would become the Digital Projects Librarian, and our digital collections really started to take shape. One of the things I really loved about my work at MPL was how much I learned about the history of the city. Before too long, I had in-depth knowledge of Milwaukee that rivaled that of most life-long inhabitants.
From there, I went to work at Marquette University, also in Milwaukee. In fact, I moved about six blocks west down Wisconsin Avenue. My job there was similar to what I’d been doing for MPL, except the focus was different. Instead of making Milwaukee’s historical materials available, I was working on making the research output of Marquette’s faculty and students more easily accessible. I learned new techniques, got to work with different formats and equipment. It was interesting and important work, and I learned a lot, but I missed the parts where I got to learn about the history of the city.
This is why I’m so happy to be working here. Once again, I find myself somewhere where I’m a stranger. As a Canadian by birth, this is as far south as I’ve ever lived. So not only am I learning a lot about North Carolina, but I’m also learning about the South. The stories I’m running across as I work with documents from the General Assembly during the Revolutionary War are deeply fascinating, and I’ll be sure to share some of the tidbits I find. I’m also working with an unprocessed collection of documents relating to the Future Homemakers of America, and I’m rapidly learning more about that organization (established in 1945, segregated until 1965, details to come). I’m eager to learn even more about the state I now call home, and to see how I can use that knowledge to make its treasures available to the public.