In this post, we introduce the newest member of the Special Collections staff, Afua Ferdnance!
Head of Archival Processing
What does your job entail?
As the head of archival processing, I am responsible for overseeing the processing of special collection and archive materials in Swem's Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), which entails establishing standards for arranging, describing, preserving, and making accessible special collection and archive materials.
What interests you most about this job?
As someone who loves history, I enjoy learning about history and culture through primary source materials found throughout special collection and archive institutions. As I process these materials, I learn a great deal about various facets of history. Because the focus of this position is overseeing the processing of multiple collections, I am very excited to learn and make these materials accessible.
What do you hope to accomplish in your first year?
In my first year, I hope to decrease the collection backlog by establishing protocols for baseline processing. Baseline processing involves identifying and describing special collection and archive materials at a collection or box level to ensure documentation of materials Swem SCRC collects and to provide patrons with access to collections as they become available. I also hope to establish a processing manual that outlines baseline as well as file and item level processing to improve the way SCRC describes collections. Digital content management systems are also important in providing access of special collections and archives to patrons, especially those unable to visit us in person. It is my hope to increase the amount of special collection and archive materials in the digital archive. Finally, I would like to strengthen community ties throughout Williamsburg and neighboring areas through outreach. SCRC currently collaborates with the First Baptist Church, one of the oldest historically Black churches in the United States, to assist with preserving their special collection and archive materials. I hope to foster similar relations with other communities in the future.
Tell us a little about your work background:
I worked within public and academic libraries for the past 10 years. One the first positions I received after completing my undergraduate education was as a children’s library assistant at the Richmond Public Library, in Richmond, Virginia. I then attended graduate school at North Carolina Central University and studied library and information science with a focus on archives and records management. While there, I worked as a processing assistant in special collections at Durham Public Library, collecting public school special collection materials in Durham, North Carolina. I also interned at North Carolina Central University’s Archives to process the University’s records. Upon receiving my master's in library science, I worked at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University as the archivist for African American collections. For the past three years, I was the archivist at Broward County Public Library’s Special Collections and Archives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I oversaw the processing of special collection and archive materials at Broward County Historical Archives, the African American Research Library and Cultural Center, and the Bienes Museum of the Modern Book.
What attracted you to W&M?
I was attracted to William & Mary because the university values its history and archival collections. Since it is an institution of learning, there is an emphasis on using all available resources to conduct research, which involves the use of special collection and archive materials.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoy reading historical fiction, biographies, and mystery novels. I also binge-watch British period dramas, Nollywood, and Bollywood films or tv shows. Other hobbies include trying new foods at restaurants, going to a museum exhibit opening or attending a lecture. Cooking is another hobby of mine, and I explore new recipes daily. I also have a great love for family, especially my two nephews and enjoy spending time with them.