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Jun 6 / Christine Illichmann

SAA Archives Tour Recap

By Mark Prindiville, MLIS Student and Wayne State SAA Student Chapter President

On Friday, May 5th, the Wayne State chapter of the Society of American Archivists was invited to take a tour at several repositories in Ann Arbor and    Ypsilanti, Michigan. Locations included the William Clements Library at the University of Michigan, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, also located at U of M, and the Eastern Michigan University Archives located at Halle Library. Our hosts included the William Clements’ Curator of Manuscripts, Cheney Schopieray, the Gerald R. Ford Library’s Supervisory Archivist, Geir Gunderson, and EMU Archivist, Alexis Braun Marks. Our personal guide was none other than the Reuther’s own Erik Nordberg, who helped arrange the tour.

We began at the Clements, where we were introduced into the newly renovated reading room and were acquainted with the general collections, if you wish to call them that, of the library. These included a plethora of Colonial American ephemera, as well as rare items collected throughout the years, including while William Clements himself was alive. After a brief tour behind the scenes, we were given a front row experience of the main lobby, where one can envision an older styled library to look like.

After taking a few minutes to dodge the rain and to drive several blocks away, we arrived at the Ford Presidential Library. We were given a tour around the different aspects of the facility, where we saw a replica of the Presidential Office through the doorway in a conference room, as well as the reading room, which overlooks a portion of the stacks for researchers to gaze upon. We were also given exclusive look into their audiovisual set up, as well as their processing area.

After continuing to fight with the rain, as well as taking a very lovely back road drive to EMU, we arrived at our final destination. Alexis greeted us in the lobby, where she then led us to the third floor, where the archives are located. One of the most memorable portions of the trip involved the ARC, or Automated Retrieval Collection. The ARC’s robot crane locates and moves hundreds of bins, which hold more than half a million books and other materials from the Library. Getting a behind the scenes look at this system proved to be an interesting experience for all of those who joined our tour.

After EMU, we left for Detroit, where we met at the Jolly Pumpkin to reflect on our trip and, due to the excitement, discuss what next year’s possible tour could be. Unfortunately, due to finishing up school, I will not be able to join in on the festivities; however, Nathaniel Arndts, newly elected President of our little chapter, will be the go-to leader of said trip, and will be the one who prepares SAA for the incoming school year.