Panel: Sustaining the Value of Academic Archives Through a Residency Program

Location: Santa Ana (first floor).

Residencies are not new to academic libraries. For decades, recent MLIS graduates have been placed in temporary one-to-two-year “apprenticeship” positions to practice their newly acquired knowledge and learn, firsthand, about real-life academic librarianship. Thus the libraries help to sustain the profession by imbuing new librarians with best practices and a broad overview of the value of academic work. Residencies for fledgling archivists are far more rare, however, especially in the academic library world. Therefore, in 2014, a three-year Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) leadership grant was awarded to University of Southern California Library to create a residency program for recent graduates with archival studies emphases. Through this innovative project, three recent MLIS-degreed archivists have been placed in three host institutions—including a private and public university—where they have applied the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Archival Continuing Education components to complete professional-level projects. In addition, the three Resident Archivists rotate among local archives, including university special collections, gaining skills and acquiring experience accomplishing a wide variety of assignments. The Resident Archivists and host institutions, alike, have benefited greatly from the residency program.

Today, the value of a university or college collection may actually be measured by the identification and availability of its unique holdings. A residency program that encourages new graduates to become academic archivists not only helps sustain this particular aspect of the profession, it also imbues the Resident Archivists with a commitment to promoting the value of archives and special collections.

The panel will provide a brief background on the qualities of successful academic residencies and share the best practices of our residency program. We would also describe the methods used to constantly evaluate the effectiveness of the project (e.g., one-on-one interviews and pre/post surveys). The speakers, including the project coordinator, representatives from the university host institutions, and a former Resident Archivist, will share lessons learned as well as discuss how a residency program helps promote the value of the profession.


Cindy Mediavilla, Project Coordinator, L.A. as Subject.

Liza Posas, L.A. as Subject Coordinator, University of Southern California.

Claude Zachary, Associate University Librarian and University Archivist, University of Southern California.

Ellen Jarosz, Head of Special Collections and Archives, California State University, Northridge.

Kelsey Knox, Archivist for Special Collections and University Archives, Pepperdine University.