For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.
Name: Sophie Howard
Title: Records Management & Appraisal Archivist
Specialties: Records Disposition Authority (RDA) revision, local government records retention / destruction
How did you end up working at the Alabama Department of Archives and History?
I originally pursued an undergraduate degree in foreign language with the intention of becoming a teacher abroad. A close family member became seriously ill midway through my program, so by the time I graduated I was in the process of reframing my goals in life. I enrolled in a master’s program in Information Science (which is kind of like an updated version of “library school”) around the time that I had the opportunity to interview for this position. I feel very fortunate to be where I am now.
What is something you enjoy about working in records management?
The Department engages in many different types of activities; we have schoolchildren visiting the Museum of Alabama on our premises regularly, and we likewise have a reference room where members of the public can conduct genealogical research. Records management is more “under the radar” than the work of either of those sections, but the work lays the foundation for records stewardship throughout state and local government, which ensures that the Department’s efforts to provide access to Alabama history can continue. The work feels very purposeful, both immediately and for the benefit of future Alabamians as well.
What do you view as the biggest challenge facing the profession today?
Well, certainly the biggest challenge is the increasing volume of electronic records being produced by state and local governments and the accompanying influx of such records to archives like ours. The profession as a whole is working to build capacity and to develop standards for dealing with this new digital age, but the issue is multifaceted and extremely complex. Even seemingly fundamental concepts like “what is a record” have to be reconsidered in light of emails, databases, and blockchain.
What are your hobbies when you are not at work?
I enjoy reading fiction and nonfiction, scrapbooking, embroidering, and spending time with my fiancé and my dog.