The Getty Research Institute is home to millions of pages of archival material about art and the humanities, from Renaissance notebooks to contemporary art posters. A large part of the archives is historical records in the form of letters, photographs, prints, notebooks, and ephemera, but the collections also teem with fascinating objects: architectural models, woodblocks, gorilla masks, digital art.
The Getty’s trusty archivists steward all this material, combining their knowledge of archiving best practices with expertise in art history to organize materials, house and label them, and describe them in finding aids. All this heavy lifting is a necessary step before our archives can be useful to researchers, whether in person or online. And being of use is what archives are all about.
On October 5, we’d like to introduce you to five of our skilled and friendly archivists on Twitter for #AskAnArchivist Day, an initiative of the American Society of Archivists. We’d be thrilled to hear from you—any question about the job, the profession, training, challenges, unusual objects, or related topics is fair game. To direct a question to our archivists, tag us directly on Twitter @thegetty; we’ll also jump in on general queries and comments tweeted with the hashtag.
Here’s who you’ll meet and when they’ll be at the keyboard (all times are Pacific):
9:00–10:00 a.m. — Nancy Enneking
I’m the head of institutional records and archives at the Getty. With 60 years of history and over 1,400 employees, the Getty generates a lot of records, and my team of five wrangles and disentangles them all. My background includes degrees in history, Egyptology, and library and information science, and my offbeat interests are hiking, quilting, and horseback riding. As an archivist, I pride myself on having helped build this highly functional little department from scratch. Ask me about anything you’d like!
10:00–11:00 a.m. — Laura Schroffel
I’m the digital archivist in the Special Collections Cataloging Department at the Getty Research Institute (GRI), tasked with processing the born-digital content that lives in our archival collections. Most of the born-digital material I work with exists on outdated carriers such as floppy disks, compact discs, hard drives or flash drives. My goal is to transfer the content off the obsolete media into our digital preservation repository, which also provides access to the content through our integrated library system. I received my MLIS from San Jose State University and my BA in art history from Vassar College. My work-study position at Vassar was in the slide library, which led me to work at the Getty as a library assistant at the now-retired slide collection here, so I have a history with collections fighting against obsolescence.
11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. — Helen Kim
I’m the institutional archivist for the Getty Research Institute (GRI), which means that I manage all of the records produced by the GRI. It’s so interesting to document the processes in which GRI projects, like exhibitions and publications, are created. In training as an archivist, I received my MS in information studies from the University of Texas at Austin and my BA in history from UC Santa Barbara. Besides archives, my interests include diversity and inclusion, Asian American film, and urban design and sustainability, but I mostly stay busy chasing my toddler, Wyatt, and my feisty Maltese, Lady Bird!
12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. — Jennifer Thompson
I’m also on the staff of Getty’s Institutional Records and Archives Department. I love that my colleagues and I are collecting and preserving the Getty’s historical record, because it means that future researchers will be able to access original documents that tell the story of how this institution evolved from a small art museum in Malibu to be the world’s largest cultural and philanthropic organization dedicated to the visual arts. At school I studied anthropology, international relations, and library information science. I love to travel and explore new places, no matter if they are foreign countries or attractions in my own Los Angeles backyard.
1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m. — Karen Meyer-Roux
As an archivist at the Getty Research Institute, I catalog prints for the Research Library’s online catalog. I was also the lead archivist for the NEH-funded project that processed the largest archive yet purchased by the Getty: the records of the Knoedler Gallery in New York (totaling 3042,6 linear feet and 5,550 boxes). I’m a native of France, where I received a Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance art history and history. I also studied math as an undergraduate, and then learned about legal aspects of cultural heritage through internships in Florence and at the European Commission in Brussels. Most of my free time is devoted to my two children, but I’m finally getting back to playing the piano, and I look forward to more reading, hiking, kayaking, and skiing.