Written by Joy Scherry
The entire DSU campus community is buzzing with excitement as preparations are made for Vice President Joe Biden’s visit for tomorrow’s commencement. Facilities staff members are working overtime to complete campus improvements, campus safety officers are canvassing the area with secret service, and I’m confident the commencement committee has been meeting daily.
As a small, niche department tucked in the corner of the library I never expected the archives to be called upon. Aside from a few reference requests in the prior weeks for photographic materials to support visual presentations at the ceremony, I fully expected my work to continue business as usual which, for the record, doesn’t include a call from the White House.
Scene: It’s 10:00 am on Friday April 29, 2016 and I’m counting the hours until the weekend. The phone rings.
Caller: “Hello Joy! I’m calling from the Office of the Vice President, and we’re trying to locate speeches from former DSU presidents.”
Me (in my head): Errr…. DSU doesn’t have a Vice President. Wait…It’s a 240 area code….VP Of the United States? As in Biden?!
Just like that, this phone call was the start of a week-long partnership with White House interns. Many daily if not hourly phone calls later, I have provided the speech writers and staff in the office of the Vice President of the United States with much primary source research.
Today, on the eve of commencement, I continue to be amazed that even the smallest of archives can play such a large role in shaping and impacting communities - and from the sidelines no less! Tomorrow, you and I may be the only ones to know that the DSU archives assisted White House staffers, but nevertheless, the resources this tiny, mostly unprocessed archives provided will assist the Vice President of the United States as he imparts advice to 700 graduates embarking on new journeys.
It wasn’t Dr. Williams or the commencement committee that asked me for help. It was the staff of the White House! Tomorrow, when Vice President Biden speaks I will be listening for the nuggets of information that I, the lone university archivist, provided. I’m pretty sure librarians silently rule the world. Just saying.