UMD iSchool MLIS alumnus Holly McIntyre has been named archivist of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, one of 11 NASA centers. NASA Goddard was established 60 years ago, and McIntyre is its first archivist, meaning she starts out with a considerable backlog of materials to be collected, organized and securely stored.
Although NASA keeps permanent materials in the National Archives (NARA), according to McIntyre this only applies to the 1 to 3 percent of records created by government agencies that are considered permanent. “The rest is considered temporary and will be disposed of (after a certain amount of time),” says McIntyre. It’s McIntyre’s job to separate Goddards’s created records into three categories: these permanent records, temporary, and non-record. Temporary material includes working records that allow someone to do their job. These might be copies of permanent series, or different versions that aren’t necessarily the final version. Non-record material is anything that is ephemeral: posters given out to employees, stickers, pins, personal photographs, etc. The Goddard Archives’ holdings are compiled of historically significant temporary and non-record material.
Who uses the Goddard Archives? “The first group would be people working here – like scientists and engineers who may want to see their own history so that they can build on the legacy that came before them,” says McIntrye. “The second group are members of the Goddard center who want to see culturally important or historically significant records. And finally, space historians, researchers, and students.”
McIntyre worked at NARA while she was an MLS student. Soon after graduating, she started working with special media in the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Unit. Because she was working with “special media,” she was able to do all parts of the archival process: appraisal, accessioning, processing, etc. NASA was one of the agencies she did appraisal and accessioning for.
Creating an archive from the ground up is a constant learning experience. When she was first starting out, McIntyre contacted other centers with archives to see what they were doing and what their records look like compared to her records. She needed “to start learning what a science archives looks like, not to be confused with data centers that take raw data that come down from space.”
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