We recently welcomed April Blevins as a new staff member in the Rubenstein Library’s Technical Services department! We asked April a few questions to help us—and you—get to know her a little better.
Tell us a little bit about your new job at the Rubenstein Library.
As a Technical Services Archivist for the University Archives, I primarily work on processing and arranging collections that a part of the University Archives. Part of my responsibilities include surveying the collection, rehousing and arranging the collection, and creating a finding aid and catalog record for the materials.
Do you have a favorite collection/material type to work with? Tell us why (or why not!).
I do not really have a favorite type of material to work with, but I often enjoy working with correspondence. As handwritten records, the content of these types of materials can be extremely valuable, making them great sources of information. I find it intriguing to read what someone considered important or worth writing about to others and how people communicate. Correspondence can also provide a view into the thoughts and life of the creator while also telling us about what is happening in the world in which the creator lives and, even, how they were impacted by these events.
Tell us about your PhD research.
My research focuses on the documentation strategies and collection origins of African American archives, particularly at HBCUs. The study aims to understand how the institutions documented the involvement of students and faculty in activism pertaining to the Black freedom movement.
What are you most looking forward to in your new job and in Durham?
In my position as Technical Services Archivist, I am most looking forward to working with the collections and learning more about the history of Duke University and the people that are a part of the Duke community. I have always had an interest in institutional memory and how institutions have developed their methods of collecting overtime, especially now with more institutions working towards inclusive collecting practices and reparative descriptions. Being back in Durham is quite interesting as so much has changed since I graduated from North Carolina Central University and moved to Tennessee several years ago. I am most looking forward to refamiliarizing myself with the city of Durham and exploring more of North Carolina.
Tell us something unique about yourself.
On a study abroad trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to go on an impromptu hike up the side of Mt. Vesuvius. Because it was an impulsive decision, I was not wearing the proper shoes and so the trek up was not the most comfortable. However, the gorgeous view from the top made it worth it!