Monday, February 11, 2019

Meet the Staff - Kevin Cason

Meet Kevin Cason. He is an Archivist in Public Services.

How long have you worked here?

I started working at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in September of 2014.

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

As a member of the Public Services department, my main duties are to help researchers and genealogists who come to do research at the Library and Archives. I primarily work in the manuscripts area and help provide access for patrons to view original primary source materials such as maps, photographs, family papers, Supreme Court cases, and state agency records. In addition to guiding researchers, I respond to reference requests that come to the Library and Archives by e-mail and mail. I also work on a variety of projects such as preparing research guides and tools for patrons, doing metadata assignments, and serving on the Collections Development Committee.

What is your favorite part of your job?

One of my favorite parts of my job is having the opportunity to work with the public and help them with their research. It is often a rewarding experience to be able to find resources such as land records, family papers or Supreme Court cases that relate to someone’s genealogy. Seeing the excitement and appreciation of a patron when they find something in the records that is useful is very meaningful for me. Similarly, when I help locate manuscript materials or state agency records that pertain to a historical researcher’s interests, I have a sense of satisfaction in knowing that I aided in guiding the researcher in the right direction.

Do you have a favorite collection?

While there are many exciting items that can be seen in the manuscripts collections, I have always been fascinated with visual resources such as photographs, advertisements, and postcards. It is interesting to be able to see photographs from manuscript collections such as the Department of Conservation Photograph Collection that visually document a significant historic site and landscape. It is also fascinating to see the architectural designs of buildings in places such as Nashville during the 1900s that are part of the Library Photograph Collection. Similarly, advertisements like the Broadside Collection are exciting to see because they often show how something was promoted during a certain era or they reveal the clever marketing designs of the creator. Postcards such as the Tennessee Postcard Collection are also appealing to me because the creators use colorful designs, beautiful scenery and different fonts to capture the attention of the viewer and encourage the person to visit the tourist destination.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

I think it is important to have cultural institutions where people can go to learn, do research, and obtain help from professional librarians and archivists. In a world that is increasingly becoming digital, I think there is still a valuable need in society to have scholarly books that enlighten, inspire and inform readers and researchers. In addition, I think it is important to have repositories that preserve the historical memory of our past. It is essential to recognize that the records we create provide evidence of our activities and they have enduring value. For example, vital records such as birth, death or marriage records were created originally to document a certain event in a person’s life. However, genealogists can use them now to learn about their family roots from long ago. Similarly, manuscript related items like photographs, diaries, letters and court cases may have been simply created to document an event, but historians can now use them to understand the past better.

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