Pam Hackbart-Dean has been the Director of the Special Collections Research Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale since 2006. Previously she was head of Special Collections & Archives at Georgia State University and Director of the Southern Labor Archives beginning 2000 to 2006. From 1990 to 2000, she was the assistant department head/processing archivist for the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Study at the University of Georgia. A member since 1990, Pam has held many appointed and elected positions within SGA including President (1997) and as a member of the Provenance editorial board (2006-2008). Additionally, she continues to be an active member of the Society of American Archivist, the Academy of Certified Archivists, the Midwest Archives Conference and the St. Louis Area Archivists. Pam received her MA in history from the University of Connecticut with a certificate in archival management and public history and her BA in history from Hendrix College (Conway, AR).
SGA has been a great influence on me professionally. By being a member in SGA, I have been able to network with other archivists around Georgia and the country - once a Georgia always a Georgian. Whether it was disaster planning and recovery after the floods in Georgia in1996 to Hurricane Katrina in 2006, sharing knowledge on descriptive practices (first as a statewide cataloging project then later to encoded archival description finding aids) to the many educational opportunities, SGA has been a great resource. The individuals I have gotten to know by working on SGA committees have truly been a blessing and made me a better archivist. If I don’t know something, I know people who do.
If you love putting pieces of history together, this is a great job for you. A master’s degree and training are a must. My advice for those looking for a job is to find an archives that truly invests in its people, provides continued professional development, and does everything it can to make sure that you have the resources you need to do a good job.
Once you have landed your job, you will continue to be on a learning track. Professional development and training is very important because everyone should have continuing professional development and training. As a profession, we are constantly improving the way we provide access to and preservation of our collections. We must keep up with best practices in order to provide the best service to our patrons, now and in the future. Finally, look for opportunities to serve on committees, whether at your own archives/library or for a state or national organization. Not only does it allow you the opportunity to get to know your professional colleagues, it helps us (other archivists) because you have a unique skill set and perspective to contribute to the conversation.
One of my fondest memories is my very first SGA board meeting at Ginger (Cain) Smith’s home in 1993. I had just been elected archivist for SGA and was at the transition meeting. I was so exciting to be among the big names in archives from Georgia. Ginger made everyone feel welcomed and had an ice breaker with M&M’s (We had to describe our similar traits with this particular candy). She and Sheryl Vogt (who nominated me for archivist) have been great mentors for me as I was getting involved in SGA and later SAA.
My other highlight has been developing and teaching the “Arrangement and Description of Manuscript Collections” workshop around the country with Susan Potts McDonald. We developed a two-day workshop for SGA in 2005 and now have taught it for SOLINET and SAA around the country twelve times. Susan and I have worked on numerous projects together for SGA and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with her all these years.