Behind the Curtain: Amanda Rindler, Records Manager

Color photograph of Amanda Rindler in front of a bookcase

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: I’m the new University Records Manager. I work with units to help determine how long records should be maintained and to transfer records to the University Archives when appropriate. I also help with creating and updating unit-specific records retention schedules and assist with the development of unit-specific records management plans.

Records Management is an important part of the records life cycle, which includes creation or receipt, use, and disposition. The disposition may be destruction or transfer to the archives. Having a records retention schedule in place identifies records that should be transferred to the University Archives at or before the creation. This means that units can have a plan in place to regularly transfer records instead of keeping them in a basement for 40 years (although we’ll work with those records too!) By aiding units in practicing good records management, we are ensuring that those records that tell our history are preserved. Effective records management also improves accountability and compliance and can save time, money, and effort by not storing and retrieving records that do not need to be retained.

Educational background: I have a BA in History with a Public History specialization from Ball State University and an MLS with an Archives and Records Management specialization from Indiana University.

Previous work experience: I began working at the Ball State Archives as an undergraduate student and knew that’s what I wanted to do. As a student at IU, I worked for the IU Archives and other repositories on campus. After I graduated, I worked with government records management before becoming the Local Government Records Archivist at the Ohio History Connection. My experience is in guiding records creators in determining proper retention periods for their records and transferring records of enduring value for continued preservation.

Favorite experience (so far): I’ve enjoyed meeting with records creators to learn more about their work and the records they create. One of my favorite parts of records management is getting to talk to people about things I’m not familiar with, but that they are so passionate about. Often people are overwhelmed by the volume of records and I like being able to lighten that load by helping them create a plan.

Favorite item or collection: I haven’t developed a favorite quite yet. Not really a hidden gem at 612 cubic feet, but I did discover that the Indiana University President’s Office records, 1937-1962 (Herman B Wells) is a wealth of information. I recently had a reference question from a patron wanting to know more about their grandfather who attended IU for training during WWII. It was suggested that I look at this collection because a lot went through the president’s office at that time. I was surprised to find a letter written to Wells from the grandfather’s father asking President Wells to keep an eye out for his son while he was on campus. I was happy to be able to find something for the researcher and will keep this large collection in mind for future reference questions during Wells’ long tenure.

Current project: There are a lot of records coming in from various departments that are keeping me busy! I’ve recently accessioned records from the Interim Vice Provost and Marching Hundred. I’m also re-boxing several boxes of English Department records from the IU Warehouse for transfer and boxed some records from the Media School.

On top of that, I’ve been working on updating the records management webpage and making sure all our contacts are up to date. I would love to start doing more outreach to areas of IU that are underrepresented in the Archives. If you have records that may need transferred or want to set up a schedule for regular transfers, please reach out! Information on transferring university records can be found on our website under Archival Services.

What she’s learned about IU by working with the Archives:

IU does so many things! There are so many different departments and centers with people passionate about their subject matter specialties.

The IU I Association records – My First Completed Collection

Photo of author Maya Cazares sitting behind a pile of loose archival materials
Sorting loose papers, searching for duplicates, and refiling

After Covid kept me home for the entirety of my sophomore year, I was finally able to return to campus in fall 2021 and be more involved in campus life.  I made a list of organizations and clubs to join, but one of my top priorities was to get a job at the Archives on campus.  Over the past three years that I’ve been a student at IU, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in one class a year that visited the Archives (or in the case of my completely online fall 2020 semester, had an Archivist meet on Zoom with us).  This was a great experience to connect with IU’s history and learn about the breadth of resources available to students.  Since I’m an anthropology/archaeology major, people and culture are at the core of my interests. Furthermore, I am deeply fascinated in history on the individual level, rather than the broad scope we usually learn about in primary school. I love to learn about the day to day life of people and what their community was like at the time they were alive.  I thought that working at the Archives would be a great opportunity to learn new skills and gain valuable work experience, while still honing in on my varied interests.  

Organized and cleaned up folders
Box 1, tidy and alphabetized

I turned out to be right– there’s a little of everything here! With collections from all across campus that span the past 200 years, I am always reading and sorting through something interesting. My first project was processing a collection from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s.  The collection was only two boxes, but a lot of the content was not sorted into folders. My first task was to reorganize the loose papers into categories that would be useful to researchers.  While doing this I also discarded any duplicates (if there were more than three).  This process of sorting requires a lot of reading, which I’ve found to be the most interesting part of the job!  There were emails, letters, forms, invitations, flyers, etc.  It’s a time capsule!  It was also interesting to get a better understanding of how things operate behind the scenes for planning committees and how much time and effort goes into their work.  

Surprisingly, I became attached to these people that I had never met.  In one month’s worth of reading, I saw one man’s career of 10 years condensed to a stack of correspondence.  He had gotten a promotion at the beginning of the files and by the end of the collection I had found a letter saying that he was retiring.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’m an anthropology student or because I’m a sentimental person (yes, even for these boxes of athletic alumni event materials to which I had no relation to when they were actually happening), but I was left feeling connected to the people, collection, and time period I was dealing with. Reading through these files gave me the chance to learn about the time generally (flyers, pamphlets, organizational materials), but also the history of the people involved themselves (emails, letters, hand-written notes). There is just something special about holding an object that people decades ago held before you, even if it was only 2 decades ago.  They probably did not know that their notes and doodles on documents would end up preserved and filed away 25 years later. 

I Association emblem with "The I Association - Your letterwinners club...Keeping our athletes connected. www.alumni.iu.edu/iassociation"
From a 2009 I Association mailing, Collection C732 Box 2

After organizing the files into something comprehensible, I was taught how to create a “finding aid” for the collection.  This is basically a tool that describes the collection so that a researcher can decide whether or not it’s something they want to investigate more.  After this, the collection was ready to go – and you can take a look! Indiana University I Association records, 1994-2010.

Overall this process took me a little over a month to complete and I learned a lot along the way.  Even during the process as I began to have a better understanding of the materials, I went back and fixed what I had done on the first few days.  Although meticulous, I really enjoyed processing and learning so much along the way (about Archives and IU)!

Behind the Curtain: Molly Wittenberg, Records Manager

Role: Molly is the Records Manager, a new role within the Archives and the University as a whole. Her primary role is to work with units across campus to help schedule the records they create, and help facilitate the disposition of records when they’re no longer active – whether that’s transferring them to the University Archives, or destroying them.

Educational Background: She earned her MLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. She also has a B.S. in Therapeutic Recreation from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

How she got here: Prior to joining IU, Molly was working for the City of Berkeley in Berkeley, CA. They did not have an archives, but much of her work still focused on the identification and transfer of records and maintaining preservation and access.

Prior to starting graduate school, Molly was working for a small business where she worked with government offices to digitize their historical records. That position initiated her curiosity, and a course in records management in grad school solidified her interest in the field. She also grew up in southern Indiana, and IU was always an exciting place to visit. It’s a great place to come to work every day.

Favorite Collection in the IU Archives: Molly loves finding correspondence between individuals and offices on campus and the unique insight these records provide. They’re also a great reminder of the importance and value of capturing correspondence in the digital age.

Current Project: Molly is currently updating our website with available information related to records management services and resources for IU.

Favorite experience in the IU Archives: One of her first – working with offices across campus to remove older, inactive physical records from the IU Warehouse. It was a hands-on introduction to a variety of the content created by IU. The experience provided an opportunity to discuss the importance of records management and transferring records to the Archives.

Ernest P. Bicknell (scanned from photograph album), 1922. Archives image no. P0047460

What she’s learned from working here: Quite a bit about alumni – most recently Ernest P. Bicknell and his role with the Red Cross during WWI. Contact the IU Archives to see the Ernest P. Bicknell papers.

Indiana University Bicentennial Oral History Project

BOHP_Logo

Plans for celebrating the Indiana University Bicentennial are well underway, especially with the incoming Class of 2020 arriving this fall. Many Signature Projects have been designed for IU’s Bicentennial, one of which is the Bicentennial Oral History Project. This project aims to collect histories from IU faculty, staff, and alumni university-wide. These oral histories provide a first-person perspective on the history of Indiana University available through no other source. The information collected from the participants can be used for research, teaching, and personal interest. Over 400 oral histories from IU alumni have already been collected as a part of this project. The Office of the Bicentennial and the Oral History Project Team are currently working to collect more oral histories and provide public access to them on the upcoming Indiana University Bicentennial website. The website will launch this week on September 9th.

Katie manning the Oral History booth at Cream & Crimson Weekend.
Katie at the Oral History booth during Cream & Crimson Weekend.

The oral histories are collected through individual interviews either in-person or over the phone. The Oral History Project Team also attends events, where large amounts of alumni, staff, faculty, or retirees are available to share their stories. Recently, the team attended Cream and Crimson weekend to talk about the project with curious alumni, as well as listen to and record their personal histories from their days at IU.

Some of the most frequently asked questions we receive when conducting an oral history are, “Where will this recording go? Can anyone listen to it?” The oral histories collected for the Bicentennial will be uploaded, cataloged, and available on the upcoming Indiana University Bicentennial website, so that they are searchable and accessible to the public. The Oral History Project Team are working to implement software that will enable easy access to the oral histories collected for the Bicentennial.

IU Alumnus, Brian Brase, getting ready to share his story.
IU Alumnus, Brian Brase, getting ready to share his story.

Many people often say, “I don’t really have anything interesting to share. You wouldn’t want my story.” We absolutely do want your story, and the interviewer will kindly walk the interviewee through the process before they begin recording. The interviewer will also ask a set of questions, so that the interviewee is not simply expected to talk on their own. Each individual story plays a significant role in filling an important historical aspect of Indiana University. The oral histories provide a wonderful opportunity to illuminate the peoples’ history of Indiana University from all campuses and from all angles. Listen to and enjoy some Bicentennial Oral History snippets from Indiana University Alumni:

 

Harry Sax, graduating class of 1961. Indiana University – Bloomington.

Gloria Randle Scott, graduating class of 1959. Indiana University – Bloomington.

Michelle Sarin, graduating class 2009. Indiana University – Bloomington.

Sue Sanders, graduating class of 1981. Carlton Sanders, graduating class of 1972. Indiana University – Southeast.

If you would like to learn more about the project or share your story with us, you may contact Kristin Leaman, Bicentennial Archivist, at kbleaman@indiana.edu. You can also receive updates about the Indiana University Bicentennial by following their Twitter and Facebook pages.

 

Meet the Staff! Tony Barger

Name: Anthony “Tony” Barger

Undergraduate Major/Where: I have a B.S. in Deaf Education from Ball State University and a B.S. in History with a minor in Museum Studies from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Graduate Major: Library Science with a focus in Archives.

Title/Duties: I spend my time at the archives both as an intern and in a part time position of ‘scanner’. I am currently completing my internship under the guidance of Carrie Schwier. I have been processing the Philip Appleman papers and doing some following up on research questions for which I am currently 0 for 2! While the scanning project is relatively new, I believe that we currently have over 2 thousand documents that are being made available online for patrons’ research.

What are you working on right now? I am trying to finish up with the Philip Appleman collection. He is a retired Indiana University English professor and is best known for his poetry and his work regarding Darwin. In addition, he is also a novelist. Carrie already has my next collection to process. I will be working on the papers of T. James Crawford, who was a professor emeritus of both business and education. I am sincerely excited about getting that collection started.

Why Archives? It is a goal of mine to articulate why I think archives is so important and why I want to be a part of it. I hope that comes sooner rather than later. Recently I posed the same question to a peer and she shrugged and simply answered, “I like working with old things.” For now I am going to accept that as my answer, too, but in truth it has more to do with my interest in history and archives role in preserving that history.

Why I like my job/archives: My internship is allowing me to work in an archive, which is ultimately my professional objective. I am enjoying my time with the archives for this reason alone; still I have to say that the staff at the I.U. Archives has created a very positive environment when each person is encouraged to have a full experience and follow his/her interests.