Virginia H. (Ginger) Smith
My first job out of college in 1977 was as an assistant to the reference archivist in the Special Collections Department of the Emory University Libraries. As the department grew into the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL), I remained there serving as assistant and associate archivist, processing archivist, university archivist, and assistant director. I was also able to earn a Master’s Degree in Library Science from Emory and use my job setting and responsibilities as the basis for many of my research papers and projects. I now serve as director of external affairs for Emory’s Libraries, but have also completed a two-year appointment as interim director of MARBL.
It was through SGA that I had the opportunity to develop a network of expert colleagues and exceptional friends. This has resulted in collaboration on projects and programs, and it has made it more pleasant and more productive to go to workshops and other meetings where some of these same people were present. Leadership roles in SGA are learning experiences just as they are in many organizations, and I have learned much from my service on committees and in offices of the organization. My professional associations through SGA have affirmatively enriched my experience working in the profession.
Among the pieces of advice I would offer would be: (1) participate in professional organizations and activities and develop a strong professional network; (2) collaborate with others inside and beyond your own repository on formal projects or informal efforts, as good collaboration leads to many forms of learning and discovery; and (3) advocate for the archival profession and for the use of archives in all ways – in research, in classwork, in exhibitions, in unusual and creative ways.
It would be hard to limit this to a single fond memory, so I will opt for three: