Behind the Curtain (Work from Home Edition): Carrie Schwier, Outreach and Public Services Archivist

Tell us about yourself and your work with the IU Archives (including your role and educational background).  

I have worked at the IU Archives on a full-time basis since 2008, first as the Assistant Archivist and now as the Outreach and Public Services Archivist. I have a B.A. in Art History from Hanover College, and an M.A. in Art History and M.L.S. from Indiana University. In my current role I do a little bit of everything, but my core functions include overseeing public services, outreach initiatives, and instruction.  

How did your work change once everything became remote? Was it a smooth or rough transition?   

During the academic year, the bulk of my time is spent collaborating with teaching faculty to design and implement primary source–based instruction sessions and assignments. The IU Archives regularly serves over 30 separate departments across the University including the School of Art and Design, the Media School, the School of Music, the School of Education, and a wide swath of the College of Arts and Sciences ranging from Art History, to Folklore, to History, to Psychology. Prior to mid-March 2020, this always meant that classes visited the IU Archives for hands-on active learning sessions where students evaluated diaries, student publications, and university records based upon the course learning objectives and then often returned to conduct follow up research. As was the case in all sectors of education, after mid-March this was no longer possible and I had to make the rapid shift to online instruction.  

I can’t say that this shift was incredibly smooth, but it was one that I enjoyed as a new challenge. I’ve been interested in exploring remote or asynchronous instruction as an option to support the increasingly large courses (up to 150 students) that I now work with, but I had never had the time to dedicate to learning new methods and technology. The pandemic forced me and for that I’m thankful! This semester, the instruction sessions I’m doing are all virtual but still feel really interactive. For synchronous (live) sessions I lean on Zoom breakout rooms to facilitate small group discussion, and tools such as Padlet, Google Jamboard, and Google Drive to facilitate student interaction with our collection. For asynchronous sessions I’ve developed a set of Video tutorials using Kaltura to walk student through how to access our collection remotely and lean on LibGuides and Google forms.

How has your work environment changed (ie the view, new “office assistants” such as pets, kids, etc.)?    

Personally, this has been one of my favorite changes. While I enjoy my co-workers, I work in an open office environment that can be distracting when I’m trying to focus on tasks such as writing or planning. While my husband is also working from home, we are privileged to have enough space that we can work from separate parts of the house. Now my main distractions have fur. Our cat Ollie and our 1 year old pup Lucy frequently think they need food, cuddles, and walks (just the dog though on that). Additionally, my home office space has 3 windows which is a wonderful change from the painted concrete block of my workspace in the archives. These are going to be a HUGE asset over the cold dark winter when I usually only see daylight on the weekends. The main downside is that working from home my entire day is spent in front of a screen, whereas when I was back in the office screen time was broken up by helping patrons in our reading room, working with students in the classroom, looking through a collections, or in person meetings.  

What do you think are some of the advantages or silver-linings of working remotely? Disadvantages?  

There are some parts of my job that seem to be working better in a remote environment. For example, undergraduates seem more comfortable reaching out to me after instruction sessions for individualized research consultations. While these were always available in person before, I think the move to holding these over Zoom has actually broken down some barriers. Plus in a remote environment we can share screens to talk through discovery tools, they can easily record the conversation so that they can go back and listen later, etc. I think this is definitely something that will become part of our regular offerings once we return to onsite work full time. I’m also really appreciating the increased opportunities for remote professional development. On the downside, I do really miss the conversations that inevitably happen with colleagues in the hallways between meetings. I feel like those are the times when the best ideas for cross-departmental collaboration happen.  

What are some projects and activities that you were able to focus on that were second thoughts with in-person work?   

As I mentioned above, the move to remote work really forced me to rethink and get creative about the way that I do my work and over the last several months I’ve been forced to dedicate time to my own professional development and learning new things so that I can adapt. I’ve found this to be a fun and energizing challenge. I learned a TON from the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) Community through participating in and helping to plan the TPS Community Calls and the TPS Unconference

What has been your favorite remote project to work on?   

My colleague Maureen Maryanski (Lilly Library) and I recently wrapped up a study for Ithaka S+R about Teaching with Primary Sources with the goal of identifying and developing recommendations for supporting this work at the local level. Prior to lockdown, we interviewed 15 instructors at Indiana University who regularly integrate primary sources into their curriculum and over the spring and summer we coded the transcripts and then wrote a report on our findings. The report covers four general themes we identified during the course of the study: The Importance of Teaching with Primary Sources (including educational equity and increased student engagement), Learning to Teach with Primary Sources (including mentorship and learning from librarians and archivists), challenges with Discovery and Access, and Physical Primary Sources and Collaboration (see the full report here). 

What are the aspects of remote work that you hope to carry over to when in-person work returns?   

While the IU Archives still isn’t open to the public, most of the full-time staff has been going in once or twice a week for some time in order to help remote researchers and to support instruction. That said I doubt that our staff will be back in the office full-time for some time. Overall I hope that the option of remote work continues to be an option (at least occasionally) even once things return to “normal.”  I find that I’m less distracted at home and that I have more space to think creatively. I also feel like it’s easier to eat healthy when I don’t have to brown-bag it every day, plus at home I have a dog to motivate me to take a walk every day at lunch!  

Outside of work, what are some pastimes that you have started up and are bringing you joy during this time?   

We got our pup Lucy in January right before lockdown and we’ve been spending lots of time with her – we did a remote Zoom training series of classes in March and April (that was a challenge) and we’ve been going on lots of walks and to the dog park. During the warmer months we spent a lot of time gardening and hiking and I now I find myself moving to cooking, puzzles and books. I’ve also been enjoying Zoom cocktail dates with old friends I haven’t seen in person in years because we live all across the country. 

Behind the Curtain: Stephanie Brown

Behind the Curtain is a series highlighting IU Archives Staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible. 

Many congratulations to Stephanie Brown, featured in today’s Behind the Curtain, for being selected this year’s recipient of the IU Libraries Robert A. Oppliger Scholarship Award in recognition of her steady and significant contributions as a student employee! We have definitely experienced her dedication first hand and know this is well deserved! 

Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown, Public Services and Outreach intern

What is your role at IU Archives?  Stephanie Brown is the outreach and public services intern, who helps archivist Carrie Schwier design and deliver educational and outreach content featuring items from the IU Archives to the IU community and public.

What is your educational background? Stephanie graduated from IU with a Bachelor’s in History. She then completed a graduate Transition to Teach program with the School of Education and spent 4 years teaching middle and high school before coming back to complete a Master’s in Library Science full time.

What previous experience do you have? Stephanie’s concentration in her Master’s program is Archives and Records Management, and so she has taken several courses outlining archival theory and best practice.  These classes also have allowed her to visit the Archives and watch one of their educational sessions prior to working here. Additionally, she has been working as a processing assistant for the Lilly Library since January 2019, and does similar work processing collections for them.

What drew you to work at IU Archives?  Most notably, Stephanie’s interactions with the archivists left an impression on her. Many of them visited her classes as guest speakers, and easily displayed their enthusiasm for their positions and for the work they do for IU.  Stephanie also has an interest in working in archives in the future. She hopes to merge her teaching experience with archival work and the IU Archives has a great outreach and education program that allowed her to dip her toes into teaching in an archive career.

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives? Stephanie loves the online photograph collection. She gets lost in those photos, which give her a glimpse of IU and Bloomington in the past.

Female students at Indiana University, 1868.
Female students at Indiana University, 1868. IU Archives P0031275

What project are you currently working on? Recently she has been making online educational activities and resources, including screencast tutorials for Archives Online that can help users navigate the site, use the search options and find and view digital items. This is especially important right now for everyone working and researching remotely.

Favorite experience working with the IU Archives? Before our campus closed down and went online, Stephanie was able to teach an undergraduate class on using primary sources. She and Carrie brought in some really cool artifacts from the collections that spanned all parts of IU science and research history. It was a blast watching the students engage with the items and learn a bit about how IU contributed to major historical scientific research.

What is something you’ve learned by working with the IU Archives? Working for the IU Archives has shown Stephanie just how important an archive/repository can be to its organization or community. IU Archives keeps records related to significant history of the university, helps alumni track down information, helps professors and IU employees understand how their records will be kept, and brings university history to the community. There is so much more to an archive than a place with lots of boxes of papers. She knows this as someone studying archives, but working for the IU Archives has truly allowed her to see this in action and play her part in it.

Behind the Curtain: Matt Meyer

Headshot of Matt Meyer
Matthew Meyer, IU Archives graduate student assistant

Behind the Curtain is a series highlighting IU Archives Staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible. 

Role at the IU Archives: Matt is a graduate archives assistant at the IU Archives which includes basic tasks such as processing collections, assisting with reference questions, and working at the front desk. Matt says that it feels like he’s expanded upon that considerably, as he has also assisted in instructional sessions, curated an exhibit, encoded finding aids, and digitized photos.

Educational Background:  Matt has a Bachelor’s degree in History from Purdue University. Admittedly, Matt thinks that it felt a little weird coming to I.U. after growing up in Boiler Nation all his life, but he has enjoyed being here. He graduates this month with an M.L.S. with a specialization in Archives and Records Management from Indiana University.

Previous experience:  While an undergraduate at Purdue, Matt worked at the student newspaper, The Exponent, and became editor-in-chief during his last semester. Before that, he worked in catering.

What attracted him to work at the IU Archives: During undergrad, Matt took a course where students had to research a collection in Purdue’s archives and then write a 25-page paper. It was an amazing experience and started his fascination with archival collections. When he applied to I.U. for graduate school, he knew right away that he wanted to specialize in archives, and he figured working at IU Archives would make the most sense for what he wanted to do.

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives: Honestly that’s hard to say. Anything baseball related is always going to catch Matt’s attention, and the same goes for material related to World War II. He would say that the collection he finds particularly interesting is the Pauline Montgomery collection of tombstone photos. She traveled throughout southern Indiana photographing tombstones and making notes about their designs, years, inscriptions, and locations. The photos are fascinating to go through, and Matt is hoping as part of a class project to create an map showing the different locations she photographed.

Black and white photograph of tombstone in the shape of a tree trunk with additional symbols of an anchor, ivy, and scroll included.
Wesley family – Tree Trunk tombstone, 1890, Winchester, Indiana. C386 Pauline Montgomery collection

Current project:  Before the library shutdown, Matt was working on a few different projects. He was wrapping up work  on a collection of scrapbooks originally put together for Robert Shaffer, who was Dean of Students in the 1950s-1960s. He and his wife traveled all across the world; Matt counted almost 60 different countries. Matt was also encoding some finding aids for collections and putting the finishing touches on an exhibit. Now that he’s working remotely, he is working on entering metadata elements into digitized recordings of lectures as part of the IU Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI) and going over letter transcriptions.

Favorite experience working at the IU Archives: Matt says that it was leading an instruction session with undergrads for the first time. Matt assisted our education archivist, Carrie Schwier, with setting up a session for a Baseball as History class. He created his own lesson plan to show students how photos can be used as primary sources. While indulging in his love of baseball was certainly a highlight, it’s a favorite because it reminded him of when he was an undergrad learning how to use primary sources, and it felt like he was able to come full circle.

What is something you’ve learned by working with the IU Archives: Processing and instruction are definitely two big things Matt has learned at IU Archives, but he is more impressed with how the Archives are so interconnected with campus. When he worked for the newspaper, he quickly realized how important it is to develop relationships with sources to get content into the paper and deliver it to readers. Matt feels the Archives is similar, it is a result of relationships and collaboration that the IU Archives is able to provide access and preserve such a large collection for researchers and to support a wide range of classes.

Behind the Curtain: Michelle Ann Crowe

Color headshot of Michelle Crowe, IU libraries Director of Communications
Michelle Crowe, IU libraries Director of Communications

Behind the Curtain is a series highlighting IU Archives staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible.

Title and Role: Michelle Crowe is the IU Libraries Director of Communications. She helps IU Libraries tell our story to students, staff, and faculty as well as coordinates with members of the media who seek to access our expertise and resources.

Educational background: Michelle was a nerdy 7th grader when she was selected for a summer camp at Ball State University focused on the very first forms of desktop publishing.  She came back to Owen Valley Middle School (go Patriots) and began working on the student newspaper. It felt natural for her to attend Ball State and major in Journalism, but an internship exposed Michelle to Public Relations and she added that focus.  She is currently taking classes at the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs for her certificate in Nonprofit Management.

Previous experience: Michelle thinks you are probably less interested in her experience spilling drinks on campers at the Canyon Inn, but during her professional career she has worked almost exclusively for nonprofit organizations.  She started in healthcare at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, but then found her dream job – Community Relations Manager at Anderson Public Library.  When she moved to Bloomington, she went back into healthcare communications at Bloomington Hospital (now IU Health) before eventually joining the IU Libraries.

Partnership with the IU Archives: According to Michelle, the IU Archives is a dream client for any communicator. Storytelling is the most effective form of communication, and that means the Archives is a golden treasure box – it feels nearly magical to her.  When an archivist or other professional comes to her to request help with promoting a pop-up library or because a journalist is seeking to write about one of the collections, she is always certain the experience will be both interesting and efficient.  Sharing knowledge comes naturally to everyone at IU Libraries, but according to Michelle it feels like the Archives is even more invested in making sure she has everything she needs and in partnering with her to tell a really engaging story.

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives: Michelle is the IU Archives photography database’s biggest fan and talks about it all time! She loves the keyword search functionality and the ease with which she can download images to use them in a huge variety of projects, or request large file size versions when needed.  She also knows that she’s not the only communicator on campus that feels this way.

Black and white photograph of 2 students standing beside a large 5-tier cake with tapered candles.
IU Birthday Cake at Founder’s Day, April 1952. IU Archives image no. P0043286

Project she’s currently working on: Just this week the Communications Department received a stack of custom bicentennial birthday cards Michelle was able to put together with lots of help from the Archives and the photo database.  Imagine her surprise when she searched for “cake” and got back a black-and-white image of a multi-tiered four-foot tall cake with taper candles?  She had to know more.  And a few search-result pages later she found more photos of cakes.  Michelle was able to learn a bit about the history of this brief IU tradition through other Archives resources and ended up with a card that is a stand-alone bicentennial history lesson.  It is one of her favorite projects so far this year.

Favorite experience with the IU Archives: In 2016 Michelle was brand new to IU and brand new to higher ed. She says she was confused about what she was doing and where she was going nearly 100% of the time.  Carrie Schwier  (Outreach and Public Services Archivist) pretended not to notice and gently led Michelle through what she needed for one of the first projects Michelle did here.

Black and white photograph of 5 cast members from the Showboat Majestic including Pat Pell, Alice Rosengard, Kevin Kline, Lolly Harris, and Candy Tolles.
Kevin Kline on the Showboat Majestic, circa 1967. IU Archives image no. P0028506

Something she’s  learned about IU by working in the Archives: Michelle might be native to this area – growing up in Spencer she always told everyone who asked she lived in Bloomington – but she didn’t know much at all about IU.  Open-shelf access to the Arbutus year books and back issues of the Alumni magazine have helped her really understand the character of this special place. But, she has to say her biggest surprise was learning IU used to have some kind of river boat show (known as the Showboat Majestic). The Archives has a sign from the vessel in its reading room – you should check it out yourself! 

Behind the Curtain: Hannah Osborn

Photograph of graduate student Hannah Obsorn standing on a ladder in from of an exhibit case. Behind the Curtain is a series highlighting IU Archives staff, partners from various departments of the IU Libraries, and students who make all of our work possible. 

Role at the IU Archives: Hannah works as a graduate student processor at the IU Archives. Her work includes the arrangement and description of new collections and supporting departmental outreach efforts such as exhibits and social media. Soon Hannah will begin a new full-time position at IU as the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture, and Design Administrative Assistant.

Educational background: Hannah graduated with her BFA from IU in 2014, majoring in studio photography with a minor in art history. After taking a few years off, she decided to return to IU to pursue a graduate education. In May she received her Master’s in Art History.

Previous archival experience: Hannah had very little archival experience before joining the IU Archives, but going through a research-heavy graduate program was invaluable when organizing collections and anticipating the ways in which researchers will need to access and utilize the materials that are being processed. The experiences she had while working for the Grunwald Gallery of Art between undergraduate and graduate programs also provided helpful insights when approaching the curatorial aspects of archival work.

What attracted her to work in the IU Archives: One of her graduate cohort brought the opening to her attention. Hannah was looking for a job opportunity that she would be able to balance with finishing her thesis. The ability to work with peoples’ personal ephemera, their material legacy, really drew her. She has always been someone who is incredibly sentimental when it comes to the objects and words people leave behind.  She is also hoping to enter the curatorial field and the ability to widen her skill set here at the Archives – learning things like archival management basics, digital preservation, and encoding- was very appealing when trying to diversify her experience for the job hunt.

Black and white photograph of Alma Eikerman and a student seated side-by-side at a work table. Eikerman is demonstrating a technique for the student.
Alma Eikerman with student, IU Archives image no. P0025305

Favorite item or collection in the IU Archives: Hannah loves the  newsletters of former IU professor and metalsmith, Alma Eikerman in the Alma Eikerman Papers. They are written much like a “family Christmas newsletter,” with Eikerman proudly filling her readers in on what her students and alumni are up to – solo shows, fellowships, marriages, the births of children. The newsletters reveal how much Eikerman treasured her students and found joy in their success. For her, teaching was not something that ended when summer came. It was a lifelong relationship with those who came to pursue metalsmithing and jewelry design at IU.

Black and white photograph of film brochures for the program "Frog Anatomy"
Audiovisual Program Materials on Anatomy, 1964. IU Archives image no. P0080381

Project she’s currently working on:  Hannah currently has two projects going. She has been working on processing a large collection of printed materials, correspondence, and documentation which accompanied educational films housed in the former IU Audio Visual Center. The films are now a part of IU Libraries Moving Image Archive, and the goal is to make the accompanying documentation of these programs accessible as well. She is also assisting Outreach and Public Services Archivist, Carrie Schwier, in curating an exhibition centering on Alma Eikerman’s pedagogical legacy. The exhibit which is part of the three-part “Lineage Ladders: A Legacy of Faculty Excellence” opened today in the Herman B Wells Library Scholars’ Commons and is open through October 25, 2019.

Black and white photograph of three men unpacking artwork of the Thai exhibition. They are surrounded by wooded crates, and two sculptures of the Buddha are visible.
Theodore Bowie at the delivery of “The Arts of Thailand” Exhibition, 1960. IU Archives image no. P0033170

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: One of the best experiences for Hannah involved a blog post she wrote about Theodore Bowie, an art historian specializing in Asian Art. She found Bowie very inspiring in his fearlessness and in the adventurous spirit with which he pursued his career, and wrote that a section of his memoir had brought her a lot of hope. One of his daughters commented on the blog, saying that she enjoyed reading the account of her father. That was an incredible reminder of the deeply personal nature of archival materials and the way they carry so much memory and history, especially for the families who choose to donate a beloved family members legacy in the form of their papers.

Something she’s learned about IU by working in the Archives:  Learning about the intricacies of the preservation of digital materials has been fascinating for Hannah. She is also intrigued by the issues /opportunities archivists are facing in preserving correspondence and interactions in the age of social media. These are issues which are also affecting the preservation and display strategies of new media in art museums and galleries.