Special Collections & Archives Blog

Meet Our New Director!

Monday, May 6, 2013 12:18 pm

Tanya Zanish-Belcher
Director, Special Collections & University Archivist

I am so pleased and proud to be joining the ZSR Library as Director of Special Collections & University Archivist!  My professional career path has led me here to Winston-Salem after 17 years as Head of Special Collections at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. I look forward to sharing my experiences there with Special Collections here–and to focus on sharing our collections with members of the Wake Forest campus community and broader public.  Special Collections collects the rare and unique, and it is important to recognize their importance and value, and to ensure their permanent preservation. At the same time, however, administering a Department like this requires a delicate balancing act between preservation and access.  Access can mean many things, and can include a visit to see the original, or seeing a digital version of the original online.  It is important for me as an archivist, for our audiences to realize that Special Collections has resources, not only collections but its expert staff, waiting and willing to assist with a myriad of projects!  Special Collections means Sharing, in my rare book.

As an undergraduate History major, I struggled with what career I was going to pursue, until a professor referred me to the Public History program at Wright State University.  At the time, WSU was the only university in the state of Ohio offering any kind of programming in this area, and I followed a dual archives/museum track. The moment I took my first class, I knew this was what I was meant to do with my life. Archives offers a unique opportunity to combine a number of elements–the study and comprehension of the complexity of history, the sharing of these unique resources with the public, and lastly, it requires the management of people, time, and other resources. The management component has allowed me to face the challenge of evaluating these available resources and match them with the needs to both preserve and access rare and unique materials.  Plus, working with archives provides a physical challenge as well–there are always boxes to be moved and books to reshelved, and items to be shifted.  Being an archivist for over 20 years has also helped me to see my professional career as part of a continuum, in what I can contribute to my institution–I am one of many, and my role is to ensure our collections are safe and secure for the next generation.

However, and this is the critical issue for special collections and archives, there is no point in preserving material if you do not make it available for someone to use.

For additional information in regards to previous publications and my vita, please see:
http://works.bepress.com/tanya_zanish-belcher

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