Archival work is a lot like putting pieces of a puzzle together. As someone who loves puzzles, archival work is a natural fit for me — Heidi Charles, archivist-librarian
When we think of archives at schools we often think of ancient, dusty relics in the basement of the library, and when we think of the archivist we tend to think of the mysterious person who seldom emerges from said basement. Times are changing in the realm of archives at Nobles — enter, Heidi Charles.
Charles is filling a slightly new role at Nobles, one that integrates the tasks of archivist and librarian, and consequently she will be much more of a presence in and around the library. Librarian Emily Tragert explains, “While Heidi will spend much of her time managing and working in the archives, she will also be joining the library team. We’re excited to connect the missions and the work of the library and the archives and to give Heidi the opportunity to build closer relationships with students, staff, faculty and the wider Nobles community than she may have had if she was only working in the archives.”
Charles brings a unique passion to her work in this area; for her, being an archivist “is like searching for clues to solve a mystery or uncover something hidden or unknown.” She also explains that access and preservation, two fundamentals in archives, are what drive the work that she does. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in history, Charles understands and values “the importance of preserving important historical documents so that they are accessible for use or reference in the future.”
A recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Information Sciences, Charles comes to Nobles having just received her Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS). She has worked in several more traditional archival settings, including government, colleges, universities, museums and businesses. The less traditional role of archivist-librarian at an independent school is an exciting new opportunity for Charles. “Nobles,” she says, “is in a unique and privileged position to have such a rich history and culture. Not many schools can boast 163 years of excellence through leadership and academics. To not document, preserve and provide access to this history would be doing a great disservice not only to the current and future members of Nobles, but the previous members who made Nobles what it is today.”
Charles also has a genuine interest in teaching and sharing that which she has worked to preserve. Cognizant of Nobles’ focus on strengthening community, she plans to focus on outreach and education, hosting exhibits and pop-ups to educate about the rich history and culture of the school and visiting classes to teach students how to conduct archival research. “Using the archives as a lens to look at the past,” Charles hopes to “connect people with one another to shape a bright future.”
Charles arrives at Nobles with significant experience in the field of archives and brings to her work a level of passion and dedication that will be beneficial to the entire community.