Tuesday, December 17, 2013

About the Department

Written by: Emily Cottle

As was mentioned last week, I was hired in June 2012 as the first archivist in Delaware State’s (at that time) 121 year history. Up until that point, various members of the library’s staff had custody of the historical collection. However, the archives were just one secondarily assigned duty of the various librarians and not anybody’s sole responsibility. Therefore, with nobody dedicating 100% of their time to the archives, much necessary work in appraisal and processing was left largely undone.

After my hiring in June 2012, my first project was to conduct a box level inventory. This was an important step for determining what we had (and gaining some minimal intellectual control over it), but possibly more importantly, what we didn’t have in the collection. It was important to get a sense of where the big holes in our documentation were so that future collecting could be targeted to where our collections needed supplementation the most.

After completing this initial inventory, I just began processing little by little, chipping away at boxes here or there, focusing on some of the items I thought would be most useful or popular with researchers: school newspapers, campus newsletters, course catalogs, and photographs.

Things more or less continued on like that until August 2013 when I received notice that our IMLS grant proposal was successful. One of our first posts of the new year will delve more deeply into our grant project, including the motivations behind its writing and what the main goals of the project are.

We’re going to be taking a break for a few weeks while everyone is busy with the holiday season. Have a safe and happy holiday season, readers, and we’ll see you in January with some very exciting posts with more information about our IMLS grant project, introductions to our first archival fellow, and a brief history of Delaware State University.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Staff Profile: Emily R. Cottle, CA

Written by: Emily Cottle

In the coming months, this blog will feature articles from and about other grant funded personnel who will temporarily be a part of the department here. Until then (and probably even after!), you’ll be hearing from me a lot, so I wanted to take the time to introduce myself.
Emily Cottle processes a photograph collection.

As you’ve already gathered, my name is Emily Cottle and I’m the University Archivist and Special Collections Librarian here at Delaware State University. This is a position I’ve held since June 2012. I was hired as the first professional archivist in the history of Delaware State. (Come back next week to learn a little more about the department itself and the collections.)

If you’d like to get the standard "Emily went to school here and worked here" blurb, check out my bio on the Contributors page. Here, however, I wanted to make things a little more interesting and use a Q&A format. If you have any other questions, pop them in the comments section below.

DSU Archives: How did you decide you wanted to be an archivist?
Emily Cottle: I had decided to major in history during my undergrad at Penn State based largely on loving history and had no solid plan for what career this degree might lead me to. After meeting with an advisor, I took an internship working in the archives at a small local historical society (the Centre County Historical Society). It didn’t take long working on processing a photograph collection for me to get hooked. My internship adviser spoke highly of the archives program at Simmons College in Boston, so off I went!

DSU Archives: What’s the best part of your job?
Emily Cottle: Hmmm… that’s a tough one. I’d have to say it’s a toss-up between working with researchers and processing collections. I love working with researchers because each reference question I receive is like a new scavenger hunt to embark upon. You never know what kind of question you’re going to get and thinking of creative ways to find information in the collections is definitely a challenge, but I love it. I love processing collections because you’re constantly learning new things. Each box you open has a piece of information you’ve never encountered before. I find that constant learning process really exciting.

DSU Archives: This article is getting pretty long, so one last question – Why should readers follow this blog?
Emily Cottle: Easy, because this blog is exciting! But seriously, this blog is going to give a detailed behind the scenes look at the operations of the Delaware State University Archives and Special Collections as we journey through the next two years working on our IMLS grant funded project. We’re still a young department, so readers will get to see some of the challenges associated with building up a new repository. Readers will also get some detailed profiles of interesting figures from our institution’s history and glimpses at some of the treasures in our collection. And we really want this blog to be an interactive and engaging site, so please use the comments section to introduce yourself or to tell us what kinds of articles you like or don’t like or want to see more of. Or if you have questions that we aren’t answering, let us know that too and we’ll do our best to remedy the situation. 

Thanks for sticking with us through that long one today, folks! Come back next week for a brief history of the Delaware State University Archives and Special Collections Department.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Written by: Emily Cottle

Welcome to the new project blog for the Delaware State University Archives and Special Collections! This blog is being created as part of a grant-funded project that was recently begun by the archives.

In August 2013, we were awarded a grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through their Museum Grants for African-American History and Culture program. The project officially kicked off on October 1st. For more about the grant, please visit our About page.

Throughout the project, we will be using this blog for a number of things. First, to introduce you to this newly formed department (more on the history of the archives is coming in the next few weeks, stay tuned!) and its staff, including permanent staff and grant personnel. Second, we will keep you informed about our progress in processing, digitizing items, and creating finding aids. Third, we will share some unique and exciting finds with you. Fourth, we will inform you about outreach events being held at the archives. Lastly, this blog is a way for us to interact with our patrons through responding to comments or questions about any blog post topics.

We look forward to getting to know our readers, so feel free to leave us questions or comments down below!