This blog post was written by Processing Archivist Thomas DeShong.
For many, including the author of this post, 2020 felt like the longest year in recent memory. Jokes and memes aside, COVID-19 dramatically changed life as we know it. The best-made plans for 2020 went up in metaphorical smoke as everyone had to adapt to keep themselves and one another safe.
Some Things Haven’t Changed…
While we are ecstatic to turn the page and say farewell to 2020, many of the library’s procedures pertaining to COVID will remain intact for the Spring 2021 semester. Masks still need to be worn when inside the library and GRC, social distancing of at least 6 feet should still be enforced whenever possible, and individuals need to wash their hands thoroughly and often. Thus, Spring 2021 will look very similar to Fall 2020, especially at the start.
But Some Will!
Yet there are significant reasons to be optimistic in the new year! Even as we write this post, effective vaccines are currently being shipped to those in greatest need. The start of a new year often represents a clean slate; a chance to start over through personal resolutions and goals that promote growth. Poage is no different in that regard. Despite the challenges we will face in 2021, Poage has a vision for the year in continuing to fulfill our mission as a legislative and research library for Baylor University.
New Permanent Exhibit
So, what will be different about this year? Stay tuned to some upcoming social media posts as Director Mary Goolsby, Baylor Libraries Exhibits Curator and Coordinator Erik Swanson, and Graduate Assistant Chris Fogel discuss various elements of the new permanent exhibit. Due to COVID, we were unable to celebrate with a formal opening last September, but these virtual posts will try to introduce some of the themes of our new exhibit in the hopes that by the end of 2021 you can visit in person!
As always, the processing of our congressional collections continues. While some of our goals last year were hampered by time working from home, projects have resumed in full swing. Major collections such as the Hyde Murray papers, O.C. Fisher papers, Jack Hightower papers, Chet Edwards papers, and the Bob Poage papers are currently underway. In fact, one of Bob Poage’s collections will have a new finding aid in the coming months! We will also welcome a new Museum Studies graduate student, Hadley Elrod, who will be volunteering with us to process the John Hogan papers. User access is one of our fundamental beliefs as archivists, so believe us when we say we are doing the best we can to make these valuable collections accessible to the public.
In addition to some of our more traditional focuses, we will also be highlighting some areas of social awareness, particularly through social media. It is important to celebrate the diverse histories and cultures that have contributed to the United States. We hope to give our students opportunities to talk about their experiences and to show them our support. January is National Blood Donor Awareness Month, so be on the lookout!
Texas Trivia Fridays and Word of the Month
Speaking of social media, we will also be trying some new things this semester. We hope to incorporate more videos into our offerings and introducing new themes. Every other Friday will be Texas Trivia Friday in which one of our staff or students shares a fun fact about the Lone Star State. Our accounts will also feature a Word of the Month, a concept that will relate to how archivists conduct themselves, maintain historical papers, and treat historical figures.
While we recognize the challenges that 2021 will certainly offer, we at Poage Library are optimistic that we can overcome these challenges to serve our patrons and fulfill our mission. One of our unofficial themes of 2021 will be intentionality – living each day with purpose. While we look ahead and plan for the future, we certainly need to be mindful of the present. That requires adaptability, focus, and in many cases, grace for ourselves and one another. We are excited to embark on this new year with our donors, students, and patrons. Happy 2021!