For the Record’s “Meet the Staff” feature is an opportunity for our archivists to connect directly with the community which we serve.
Name: Rachel Smith
Title: Collections Archivist
Specialties: Government and Electronic Records
How did you end up working at the Alabama Department of Archives and History?
While I was an undergraduate in history, I pursued opportunities to explore the public history field. Through several internships and my master’s program, I found a passion for working with records in the archives. I have previously worked in academic, government, and corporate archives settings. I am particularly fond of public records held at state archives, so I jumped at the chance when the position opened at ADAH. I’ve been here 7 years.
What is your role?
I work with the government records in our collections, making sure they are preserved, arranged, and described. Since government records are increasingly digital, I serve as our electronic records archivist. To this end, I manage our digital preservation system, Preservica, to store, preserve, and provide access to our electronic records collections. Additionally, I administer our web archiving tool, Archive-It, to capture state agency websites and social media sites. I also collaborate extensively with our records management section to transfer permanent records to the archives.
What is something people don’t know about the Collections Section?
We don’t just work with old stuff! The collections I work with are typically from the last few decades. We do want your email, digital photos, Word documents, websites, PDFs, and other electronic records. History is happening every day and it is exciting to ensure current events are represented in the archive.
What do you view as the biggest challenge facing the profession today?
Staying ahead of the digital explosion. Electronic records are rapidly growing and changing every day. Archivists must be proactive in capturing that content and determining how to preserve unstable formats into the future.
What are your hobbies when you are not at work?
I enjoy traveling, reading, visiting museums, attending the theater, watching movies, and spending time with friends.