Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Meet the Staff - Gibb Baxter

Meet Gibb Baxter. He is an Archival Assistant with the Public Services section of the Library and Archives.

How long have you worked here?

I have worked here for 11 short years!

What are some of the things you do as an Archival Assistant in Public Services?

When I am not assisting patrons with their research in the microfilm reading room or working on one of a bevy of recurring projects, I am usually processing incoming and outgoing interlibrary loan requests. While we are a non-circulating library (i.e., you can’t check out books), a portion of our collection can be accessed remotely by requesting material from us through one’s local library. Most of our manuscripts collections and state record groups are available to any library, and most of our microfilmed newspapers are available to Tennessee libraries. We’re a little more selective with loaning out our books, since (unlike microfilm) we can’t produce a new copy of those in-house, but we do offer to loan those for which we do have a second copy. We house such a wide variety of items, it’s a bit of a case-by-case decision, so anyone interested in borrowing an item should check our interlibrary loan page on our website or give us a call and ask for me. On the flipside, if you are here in Nashville and are seeking something housed in another library, I will do my best to borrow it on your behalf.

What is your favorite part of your job?

As a member of the public services team, the best part of the job is the validation we receive from the public. Our patrons range from veteran researchers and professional genealogists to young students and novice family history-seekers, but no matter where you are in your research, I’m here to help you navigate our collections and where my knowledge falls short it is inevitably picked up by one of my colleagues. We take pride in our eagerness to serve and our patrons continually express their gratitude in return.

Do you have a favorite collection? What interests you about it?

While tempted to choose from our plethora of manuscripts collections, I have always been most fascinated by our Library Collection. With so much freely available online, many of our older volumes rarely need to be pulled from the stacks anymore, but that doesn’t take away from the sense of wonder that accompanies browsing shelf after shelf, floor after floor of serial publications, government documents and books which span centuries. When pulling a book for a patron or myself, I’m struck by how often the volume I find is a first edition or otherwise rare printing and I can seldom pull anything without stopping to browse the other books surrounding it. Though our stacks are closed to the general public, I encourage everyone to search our online catalog and give us a reason to venture in and bring forth the gems within.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

In a word, literacy. Today’s literacy involves not only the ability to read and write but the ability to think critically on the fly. On the archival side, the argument moves from access to preservation; it’s one thing to digitize a document, but another entirely to make sure that same document will be there to re-digitize in 200 years. Technology is always working wonders, not in ways that make libraries or archives obsolete, but in ways that will make them even more relevant for the generations to follow.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

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