Archiving documents a valuable tool for researchers

This letter is written in response to the article “ISS historian Guo compiles 1st codex for public use since 1965,” which was printed in Sept. 20, 2012, edition of The Daily Illini.

The article relies on the tired notion that materials are routinely “discovered and dusted off” in archives around campus and around the country. This is a mistaken assumption that many archivists (and information science students like myself) find distasteful.

The University of Illinois Archives is responsible for selecting, preserving and making accessible an authentic record of the University. Records are appraised, arranged and described to assist researchers at every level so they can find the resources that we have preserved for them.

Had the reporter examined the University Archives’ holdings, either in person or online, she would have seen that the collection contains record series such as the Student Senate files from 1948-2008. These materials are not hidden, waiting to be “discovered.” These items have been processed and are ready for researchers to use.

In addition, the article incorrectly refers to the Student Life and Culture Archives located at the Archives Research Center as the “Orchard Downs student archives.”

For generations, archivists have worked to ensure that collections are not disorganized, dusty or locked in obscure formats. Instead, our goal is to provide researchers with easy access to materials to further scholarship.

We are pleased that our standard of care enabled the researcher mentioned in the article to locate the 1965 record of student government, and that he, in turn, was inspired to create a codex that will be of great use to today’s student government.

Roxanne Dunn,

graduate student in library and information science