Ask An Archivist: An Interview With Melissa Gonzales

Join us as we celebrate American Archives Month by Asking An Archivist! Inspired by #AskAnArchivistDay, we sat down with five archivists to ask them about what they do—from “what is an archivist?” to “What’s the most creative public use you’ve seen with your collections?”—and explore daily challenges, successes, and everything in between.

Stay tuned because we’ll be sharing one full interview per week starting on #AskAnArchivistDay on October 13!

This is the title card for an interview with Melissa Gonzales by COPA member Rachael Cristine Woody.

For our fourth installment of this mini-series, we’re excited to share a conversation with Melissa Gonzales, Director of Records Management for Houston Community College, and until 2021, a member of SAA Council. Rachael Cristine Woody of the Committee on Public Awareness sat down with Ganz (virtually) for a video conversation in 2021.

Melissa Gonzales is Director, Records Management for Houston Community College, which was a slight transition from her previous academic and museum archival work. She is currently pursuing a Certified Records Manager designation and is passionate about archival salary equity and advocates for this via leadership roles on SAA Council and now as Vice President of the Society of Southwest Archivists.

Video Interview

Transcript

Gonzales [0:00:04] I’m Melissa Gonzales. I’m currently the director of records management at Houston Community College. I’ve been there for three years now, and I’m also an outgoing member of council, I’ve served three years on council, and I’m also vice
president of the Society of Southwest Archivists, which I was recently elected to this past year, and I’ll be president starting May 2022.

Woody [0:00:27] Excellent, thank you and I can’t believe it has been three years already for your SAA term.

Gonzales [0:00:35] Yes, it went by very fast. I tried to get as much done as I could as possible. With all the red tape and bureaucracy that pops up. And not to mention the pandemic, I mean that the right everybody for a loop, I think.

Woody [0:00:40] Yeah, absolutely. Okay, so first question for you, Melissa is, what is the difference between archivists and records managers.

Gonzales [0:00:55] Well I think we all know that archivists, preserve materials of importance to organizations, institutions, or individuals that are of a historical nature or ephemeral nature. Records managers tend to, not tend, they do manage those records that are pertinent to business operations for institutions, organizations, also those that are necessary for business continuity in the case of a disaster we manage those based on a retention schedule.

So archivists have collection scopes or, you know collection management policies that dictate what we can and cannot collect that keeps us from over-collecting as well. But we, records managers, are specifically inclined to collect pertaining to the retention schedule for compliance purposes, usually have to make some kind of state or federal compliance, and at the end of that lifecycle, there is an archival component. So you do have to manage the entire lifecycle. So if it gets down to it and some materials are meant to be kept permanently, or for historical purposes, then we have to be able to do that as well.

And it’s interesting that I found that many archivists, I entered the profession, wanting to become an archivist, so when I entered and found that a lot of archivists have never done records management, or were aware of the differences or what it does, what it means that there was a kind of a learning curve but it’s interesting that from the records management perspective they also get thrown a learning curve, regarding, you know, the archival component the end of the lifecycle, and there seem to be gaps there some archival institutions don’t handle records and some records managers don’t handle archivist archival materials or know how to do that so it’s kind of interesting.

Woody [0:02:46] Thank you for sharing. I know that SAA, of course, has members from both of those camps, and for you having served both sides it’s like a pivotal translation spot I think for many of us.

Gonzales [0:03:02] It is definitely, as we know archival salaries, it’s kind of sad that it’s a running joke that records managers positions don’t often require master’s degrees, yet they get paid considerably higher than archivists that do require, you know, their jobs do require master’s degrees.

So, it’s, I went to an ICRM certified records management prep exam course a few years back, and they do have a section that covers archival science, and the person that was teaching it was like I haven’t actually been an archivist for quite some many years, I was the only archivist in the room. So when she found out she kind of looked to me for some questions. But at the end of it, she walked up to me, she goes, “I’m so sorry we get paid so much better than you.” I mean it was that bad, it was that I was
like “wow okay we’re there.”

So I made the switch for salary purposes, which, you know, I think many archivists do that.

Woody [0:04:05] Yeah, absolutely, and can’t blame them, slash I mean it’s a smart decision.

Gonzales [0:04:11] Yeah.

Woody [0:04:12] Yeah, and I think about it. So this sort of goes into our next question, which is why did you become an archivist? Slash, how did you become an archivist? But if you’d like to also address the switch to records management, then that would be great to hear as well.

Gonzales [0:04:29] Sure. So I went to UT Austin. As an undergrad so I was very aware of their high school. While I was there, I worked for a professor and Middle Eastern Studies section department because I actually wanted to be an Egyptologist when I started undergrad, so I did specialize in ancient Roman Greek and Egyptian art and architecture. I took a lot of, you know, conference courses pertaining to that and then I worked for a professor who specialized in early writing. So I did a lot of archival pickups and research and scan, you know, made sure to go and get some resources for her. And so I visited many archives while you know, I was an undergrad and that’s how I became aware of them.

And then I graduated, of course, volunteered in the museum realized, you know, what the actual real-world situation is like for curators, not to mention POC curators. And I was like, oh, okay, this probably isn’t going to be feasible or work out, and if it does, it’s going to be a struggle.

So I went back to banking which I had done, off and on from a retail perspective since I was 17, and had always been a great backup. So I ended up working in corporate banking for a few years and while I was there. I was like, oh look, I’m handling all these records, and I’m managing the records for this department and this is a job. And I started you know looking into it. I thought oh it’s parallel to the archival profession, and I started looking at programs, and so I ended up going with Simmons and went to Boston in 2007 to get that my master’s degree.

And while I was there in turn to are worked at the Simmons College Archives, I interned at the Peabody Museum at Harvard of Archaeology and Ethnology, and then also at Mass Historical. And then in between that because I was really paranoid and the recession hit, and I saw that you know even Harvard was laying people off and when that happened everybody kind of freaked out. So I was like, oh I need as much experience in different types of archives, with different types of files and formats, and different you know CMS is as much as possible so I’m as marketable as I can be.

And I ended up interning in-between. I called the archivist at the Johnson Space Center Archives at UBH Clearlake University of Houston Clear Lake and ended up securing an internship between my first and second year, while I was home. And then, yeah, and then when I was graduating, I thought, well, I’d like to go back to Texas because the cost of living on the East Coast is kind of ridiculous, and when you grew up on the Gulf Coast, you can see how your dollars really stretched.

So I started applying for jobs that were closer to Texas, and my first gig was in a really small town in south Texas that was actually pertinent to the Texas Revolution, and it yeah so it was a town of 2000, and the county I think had 20,000, and I ended up moving there afterward, and it was interesting, I reported to the library board which was made up of retired teachers, so they weren’t really familiar with what I was supposed to be doing, which is why I was really glad that I had had so much experience prior to going. They had hired a consultant from Houston at one point to come in and create a draft o what needed to be done, what needed to be addressed how it should be addressed. And of course to hire professional archivists so they had hired someone prior to me who had left and you know as their successor.

And so that those policies and procedures helped out considerably well, you know, having my first gig in that small town with no help or assistance nearby. So then what I realized was that all of the historical materials from1836 were at either Austin or the state, so they didn’t really have a lot of materials historical materials I had to deal with that. And the mission that was nearby, and so I was like okay so there’s gonna be other things I can do here in the area and so I ended up bringing in the Methodist Church’s records.

And so there were institutional records more so than historical, because the Methodist Church keeps a lot of their birth and marriage and death certificates and books. So I kept mostly their institutional how that church started their board meeting minutes, things of that nature.

I started a collection for the library board as well, and just started doing more institutional archival collections that had to do with the library, the archives, the county that kind of thing that some work with the local Historical Commission, and then my next job after that was with the National Academy Western Heritage Museum and while I was there, my boss, noticed that I had had records management experience, and then when I was at Simmons, you did have an entire course, I want to say I had at least two, but at least one definitely at max two records management courses, and that’s when I started picking up oh this isn’t normal for people to have that background or at least have a semester of it.

So I counted myself really lucky at that point and she was like “Can you start getting the institutional archives together for this museum because they’ve never done it before.” And I was like “okay I’ll draw some, some policies and procedures and see if we can get started.” And then when I went to UT Arlington after that.

The same thing happened, they had a records manager that reported to the provost’s office I believe she’s still there. She was retired and thought that she would take a part-time gig. Nearby, that would occupy her time, her spare time, and ended up turning into a full-time position again for her. So, since I was the university archivist we were working in tandem to determine you know when you know records become archival and it was really kind of mind-boggling that the UT system doesn’t have a set retention schedule for all of its sisters, or you know subsidiary, universities, so it was kind of interesting that we each had to do them on our own.

And I found that in Texas that kind of happens a lot with institutions that have other you know sister institutions and other cities, that they don’t really, they don’t do it from like a system-wide each institution has to do it themselves, which is kind of frustrating, especially when you don’t have the staff to do that. And you don’t have the direction to do it, but what’s really amazing about Texas also is that the Texas State Library and Archives Commission does have retention schedules that are for colleges junior colleges local government, it’s all mapped out so all you have to do is pretty much double check with your departments that those are the records they create, which ones they don’t, wipe them out, cater it to your institution, and then you’ve got a retention schedule in place, but still a lot of work because you’ve got to confirm and meet with all those departments.

Departments have sub-departments, sub-sub-departments, and it can get really granular very fast and it kind of becomes a mess but when I went to the Witte Museum of San Antonio, I ended up doing the same thing building institutional archives because they had never I was the first archivist in their 82 year history at that time. So they had a lot of amazing archival collections, but they didn’t have anything documenting the institution itself. And they have plenty of material to be doing that and to have those collections in place so I started that there, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston already had an amazing institutional archives collection scope in place.

So, it was just a matter of continuing that and moving it forward and that’s how I found myself, you know at Houston Community College as a director of records management, And they also really had a great program in place too as far as the retention schedules go, we do create our subsidiaries but yeah that’s kind of how I made that transition is that, um, you know, being a single woman in your mid-40s And you start thinking about retirement and everything else you’re like, oh I need to start looking at this, and how to take care of myself with a single income. And I  had taken, my father passed away in 2016, so when I was in San Antonio, I needed to get back home to Houston to help my mom out and it always been a dream growing up in Houston to work at the museum of fine arts, Houston, and Lorraine Stewart had told me at the time that she needed an assistant archivist, somebody who you know hit the ground running and I needed a job there so I ended up taking a pretty sizable pay cut to get back to Houston. 

And when Lorraine left I realized how much she had been getting paid, after working there for 20 plus years. As the head of the archives of a major museum National Museum, and I was floored. I was just that I can’t believe it’s taken her that long to get over 80,000 in a prominent, I mean fourth largest city in the country, and a prominent Museum at that, and I wasn’t going to get things that happened after she left so I think the idea was that I, with my experience, would be able to move into that position but it, unfortunately, didn’t work out that way.

So I started looking at other options and a friend of mine told me about the HCC gig, and lo and behold, I was shocked when I got the call that, well not that I had gotten the job I was okay but I mean, when they told me that the compensation package, I was ready to negotiate, I was I had on my terms laid out, I was ready to go. And I’m still kicking myself because maybe I could have written negotiated more and more, but I was so shocked at the starting salary and I was like, oh my god Lorraine had worked 20 plus years in museums to get to 80, and they’re on, they’re offering me like, 81, and I off the bat, and I was just like, This is insane. I just couldn’t believe it. Just all that hit me at once on that phone call.

And then I thought, oh I have to actually answer this man. So, yeah. And then it dawned on me as like, but it’s just, I even knew what the range was but to think that you’d be offered you know, at that end. What I, the difference is just amazing and sad and really frustrating. But I thought you know I just can’t.

Now that I’ve, you know, taken care of my own personal goals I can’t just leave behind the things that I’ve been working on before because they’re still very important to me that you know especially we’re so academic heavy in the profession and SAA that just trying to look out for smaller nonprofits and other groups, and working on standardizing, to some degree or as much as we can, archival salary.

So, yeah, I’m still trying to work on that as much as I can. But yeah, that’s how I transitioned. It was basically pay, and opportunity, and I actually do enjoy records management. I miss archives. 

I’m actually building the HCC archives right now because they just had their 50th anniversary and they’ve never built anything either. They started as another school in the ’20s which split off into the University of Houston and Texas Southern and they just never, they never. They just formed their own archives that those two institutions. And so, I think he’s the public library has some of the materials as well, but you know they still produced when the HCC started in the ’70s and so, yeah, I’ve been working on that and working with Erica Hubbard, who’s our Director of libraries who’s amazing, they have a fashion archives which is astounding that a junior college would have a fashion archives, it was donated by a local family and a local socialite and then her friends start donating, and there are just some amazing pieces in that collection so I noticed that digital preservation was an issue at this institution and it seems like records managers, there have been so many webinars out there right now in the REM world that have to do with digital preservation because I don’t think out so many of them have been wrangling with just electronic content management, that they haven’t really I think started looking towards preserving things that are 10 plus years or permanent.

So, I, that was a goal of mine since I first got here, and we’re about we’re working on phase two of our digital preservation system. And so that should be up and running pretty soon, and I’m hoping that that will help out with our essential records program as well.

But yeah, it’s been great, making the switch in, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I still think I’m an archivist at heart.

Woody [0:16:50] Yeah, I think it never really quite leaves us.

Gonzales [0:16:55] Yeah.

Woody [0:16:56] You’ve had quite a career thus far, like how much you got jam-packed in there it’s full of good stuff.

Gonzales [0:17:05] Yeah, there for a while those uh, it was 10 years of a lot of moving. I got really good at packing and moving, and figuring that out, but yeah, most of it was upward mobility and moving for upward mobility and jobs and it was really funny when I got the job at the cowboy my boss said to me my first day on the job she said, I’m not paying you enough. I can’t pay you what you deserve, and you deserve a lot more than what we can. And, but I’m going to do everything I can for you regarding professional development, I’m going to send you to whatever you want to go to whatever we have money for I’m going to send you to, you’ll go with me on donor visits. I’ll do whatever we can to boost so that we can get you another job that’s, you know, I was like, This is my first day on the job, he always tried to get me another. I just moved here. I drove eight hours. But yeah, it’s been interesting, to say the least, to see how different academics and museums, and how they function, especially here in Texas and other places I’ve worked.

So, yeah, I don’t think you quite see the regional differences until you’ve actually moved around some and seen it, and graduate school just really doesn’t prepare you for that.

Woody [0:18:23] That’s the truth.

Gonzales [0:18:24] Absolutely.

Woody [0:18:25] This is not an official question, so let me know if it’s okay if we ask it on the record, but you had touched on salary advocacy, especially as it was pertinent to your story.

Is it okay if I ask you a question about it because, from my perspective, that was one of the things you went into Council with as one of your priorities. And I know it’s been something you’ve championed for us. Is it okay if I ask you, why you did that and why it was important to you?

Gonzales [0:18:54] Sure. So when Rebecca Goldman, asked me to be on the steering committee, I think it started tweeting, and I was on the A&D listserv there for a bit, when a lot of people were, you know, just pick yourself up by your bootstraps and look I’m tired of these answers, and they’re in 2011 and she, you know, all that was going on.

And I don’t know if that’s how I got on her radar. But Rebecca called me, or, or even contacted me about being on the steering committee, to create the bylaws for the students and new archives professionals roundtable. Oh, at the time we’re on the table now section, and so I joined that because I thought this is gonna be a great group. Oh my gosh, she’s got so much impetus and steam behind her and I’m really passionate about this. So they didn’t feel at the time that we were getting any. I don’t see any but it just seemed like we were getting the same answers over and over and over again. And I also kind of wanted to steer away from the whining and actually doing, or what was perceived as whining. And actually, because perception is everything and unfortunately that was coloring a lot of things.

So I thought well let’s see what this group does and see if we can’t, you know, make some strides and get some action, actual action done and be I ended up being the I think second chair of the group. And while I was there, you know, just a salary and certified archivist and masters, and what do we do and why do we have all this, and there are so many questions coming out of it and people having, you know, not enough jobs, not enough well-paying jobs not enough upward mobility, how do we, you know, and if you don’t want to become a manager, which is perfectly fine. Do you just sit in the same job and just wait to get increases that never come, or might come, you know, and there’s no guarantee of anything, and what you know is pretty much a lot of professions have those same issues, but I just felt like we, the profession itself wasn’t working on that at the time, and when you’re new you don’t really know of any historical swings or things that have happened in the past so I started reading up.

And, you know, being in the museum world, I noticed that they, you know, have certified. You can be—I’m certified, and a lot of museums do like that they get accredited, and I started looking at their, you know, archival components. I started realizing that directors love to say that you know we’re an accredited museum or accredited institution. And then I started realizing they like to tell people I was a certified archivist and they don’t really realize what that means, I think, but they would be just, oh and we have a certified archivist, just because they like to be able to say they have something certified because it sounds fancy right, so I thought well why don’t we putting this on individuals who can’t afford. I don’t have enough money, I’m lucky enough that my institutions have always paid for my memberships, I actually negotiated that at one point into my job that she was like well we don’t, we’re not having good luck. Nobody’s going anywhere and that’s when I said “I’m sorry I have to go to these conferences. So if you want me and can’t pay me enough, you’re going to pay to send me to these things” and I was the only person at the time that was going, and they’re like, how did you make this happened and we’re gonna negotiate it into my contract, I mean they’re like oh I didn’t even think like what also was hired at the right at that time when that was happening so I could, so I highly recommend doing that if you can so that you’re, you have it on paper that your institution will pay for your memberships and will pay for conferences, especially the big ones. SSA to study stuff was archivist when I haven’t been able to attend those are usually low enough in costs, that, you know, I could pay for them myself, which was great. And so, you know your regionals are always, always amazing to turn to you as well I love regionals.

But anyway, yeah so I started reading up on that and kept thinking, you know, why aren’t we holding institutions accountable? Why is it always coming from individuals, we can’t afford I mean, to attend all the conferences to get the points to obtain our certification without taking the test and then paying the $50 every year and then doing this and doing that? And then, you know institutions not counting it because it’s certification, and they don’t consider that, you know, the institution shouldn’t pay for those. You got to pay for them out of pocket, and then, oh but they love to say hey we got a certified person, but, um, so yeah, there’s just all these, these red flags that were going up that just doesn’t make any sense and why are we putting the onus on the individual when the institutions are the ones with the money.

And I started reading, and notice that you know this has come up in the past before about sort of about institutional certifications, and you know we do have the digital archives, you know, the MIT designation, but how many are able to get that too because we do have the resource of this as users have the resources to actually get certified for that. And that’s one very specific thing. It’s not accreditation for the archives as a whole. And to be, so we don’t have trusted digital repositories, but we don’t have trusted physical repositories.

And so this whole relationship that we start with donors, and with our communities is based on just blind trust. Oh, we’ve always been here, we’ve always done this we have these policies and procedures. But what actually backs up and supports those policies and procedures just the institution is these two institutions getting money from the state, are they getting the support that they need to show that this stuff will be around whenever you know, I mean, how do you, there’s nothing stating that we as an institution have checked off all these things and have been certified by a governing body that will back us up or support us.

So then I start reading about all the issues that are involved with that I had some really good conversations when I was in San Antonio with Kathleen Roe, and Kathleen recommended that I either find someone on council, that would be an ally and hear me out or either getting council myself, so I was like, oh okay, I’ll just start advocating for myself to be council, and it worked, and I thought okay so and then at that same time, the working group on archival compensation started working, which I’m still floored by it so many people in an unofficial like non-professional org backed group got together to do all that work, which just makes my heart sing, but, yeah, while I’m on council I can support these people and I can try and get these things going and see what we can do to get it done.

And when I tried to put forth the salary transparency in December of 2019, and it didn’t pass. They wanted more information, and we’re like okay well we can get a task force together to put more information to create a packet of recommendations if that’ll make y’all feel better.

And that was agreed so I drafted it that day and night, during the council meeting with Stephen Booth, and I want to say the Audra Eagle Yun also helped me on that and perhaps Courtney Chartier. I can’t remember but yeah, drafted that task force charge, got it going, and got it approved that year and then April of last year is when Gretta Pittenger was you know, assigned as chair we got the group together.

And so they’ve been working, we’ve been working for the last year on recommendations and other things, and it’s just, yeah, and then, of course, we got salary transparency passed in May. After I think I presented that was the third time I presented it to council.

So, yeah, I’m kind of that guy. I don’t mind being obnoxious or annoying as long as I can try and get things done, because you know it’s just about being heard, so it’s amplifying your own voice, sometimes, even if you’re that guy, so I just I have no shame, which I think helps, but, um, you know, it is what it is, I think as you get older you just have less to give in. And you wake up in the morning like you know what, I, I’m just going to make it happen. I’m going to try and make this happen so yeah, and it’s not done, I mean there’s so much work to be done.

And I’m, I’m really looking forward to our new executive director who we just hired SAA just hired because she’s already very aware of those, those issues, so I’m looking forward to seeing where SAA goes next and establishing and helping people regarding salaries. So, yeah, it just, I hate that I’m rolling off and you know can’t continue with that perspective, but it’s, it’s nice knowing that I still have contacts and networks that I could sit with and talk to and possibly get things moving if we need to.

Woody [0:27:33] Well thank you for so much labor that you have done on everyone’s behalf, trying to get that in front of council, multiple times, and for finally giving that victory on salary transparency so just thank you so much for being a champion of that.

Gonzales [0:27:49] Oh thanks. That really means a lot. Thank you.

Woody [0:27:52] What’s the craziest thing you’ve found in the archives?

Gonzales [0:27:55] It had nothing to do with the collections when I was in that small town in Texas, South Texas. I was in the public library and it was basically a conference room it had been converted into the archives and reading room, and it was right by the back exit door and I don’t know if I grew up in the Gulf Coast, on the Gulf coast which is more humid than even South Texas, just inside on the Coastal Bend, and it gets really hot and dry, and I guess this poor little guy was just like, I’m hot, I need to go somewhere cold and so I will, I got into the archives that morning, and open the door, and there was a coral snake stuck in a trap, a sticky trap. And I was like, Oh, I was like oh, red and yellow killer felt like I had to actually remember the line because I thought I don’t want to touch this, but I think it might be okay. And I was like no, this is, this is a bad noodle.

So, yeah, I ended up having to call someone to get some help, but I felt so bad for the poor thing too because it was stuck on. That’s got to be a horrible way to go being stuck on these little traps, but I just kept thinking, Oh my god, I found a snake, a deadly snake, of course in the archives. 

I want the Hertzberg collection at the Witte Museum was also just amazing from the standpoint that I had gone as a kid, you know, I was always going to San Antonio because my paternal grandmother lived in South Texas and so we would always go down to see her for the summer and then drive up through San Antonio on the way out, we’d hit, you know all the things. And one of the things we’d always do was the wedding, and the Breckenridge Park and the zoo, and the Hertzberg circus museum was right there on the Riverwalk. And lo and behold, when they shut down in the late 90s The Hertzberg. Will said that the city would get the service collections. 

And so, while I was there we were moving to a much nicer storage facility. Actually, my Twitter picture is from working in the nasty commissary that was the old storage facility. There was black mold, there were rats, and there are rats in the basement, like underneath. But anyway, working with the Hertzberg collection that the posters and surface collection and rehousing those. I was always finding something every day that I was like oh my god my Instagram is gonna be insane because I’m just taking photos every day of these, these posters or things that my museum site collections, people in the collections management, my peers were finding over there and I also had to go to a funeral home once, which was kind of weird because they still have the equipment with the fluids in it to like you know when the. Yeah, so working in that area was kind of, I’ve worked in some funky areas.

Woody [0:30:56] Yeah.

Gonzales [0:30:59] Yeah, it was fun for me just things I’ve heard when there are my little baby coffins in the corner and you’re trying to like put newspapers and obituaries together and box them and get them out of there and you’re like, this is kind of creepy but it’s also weird how quickly you acclimate and then it’s like oh it’s just the baby coffin in the corner I’m just not going to look at that anymore, surprise, I didn’t have nightmares for months, but yeah, it’s part of the job I guess other duties as assigned for archivists.

Woody [0:31:30] Yeah, maybe coffins, they don’t tell you about that.

Gonzales [0:31:33] No, yeah, another thing grad school. Yeah embalming fluid just, You know, yes.

Woody [0:31:40] Okay, last question for you, Melissa. With COPA, part of our major activity is promoting outreach, awareness, etc. So with that in mind, the last question is, how do you engage your audiences?

Gonzales [0:31:58] I always try to engage people, I think, a lot, like I said earlier, I have no shame. But I also believe in transparency as much as can be done. I mean, obviously, we’re always going to be, especially with council and everything else there are things happening on the back end that, that, you know, you can’t release right away cuz you’re still working on it it’s not finalized. You don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up. You don’t want to do things, but I truly believe in being as transparent as possible. And I encourage people to read meeting minutes, I encourage people to ask to show up to council meetings, because there’s a lot going on there that you don’t get to see, and sometimes when you just see the meeting minutes in the end, they’re very dry, you don’t get to hear the conversations or discussions, also to see how the people you’ve elected, how they’re speaking on your behalf, how they’re, you know, I tried to always keep that in mind as far as audiences are concerned. I know that we are as an org from a leadership perspective and from an SAA leadership perspective, even SSA, you know, I have to think that people looked at me for a certain reason. And that’s to represent them. Also, I don’t want to leave out everybody else. So I try to look at those perspectives as well. But I just by being as honest as possible, even if sometimes that’s blunt, because sometimes you got to put up a mirror for people to see that, you know, things got to change. But it also can’t change overnight. So as much as I would like, as we saw with the trends salary transparency, taking care of yourself when you’re doing all of that, and finding the right allies and support team, and just having your own network of people and standing back and helps out tremendously. If you have, I know it’s just kind of going in a different direction, but it’s what keeps me sane, to keep my audience in mind so that I don’t lose track of that, either.

So, I, I’ve always had support groups that are non-archivists, so I have a support group of librarian friends that I’ve worked with in libraries that are aware of some of the same similar situations and we’re all going through these, you know, similar situations in the library profession. So just being able to have a group that you can bounce ideas off of that you can go to event, so that I’m not doing that publicly because as angry as I get if I do post-event something publicly on social media, it’s because I want other people to see the ridiculousness. And see, look, look at this, this is, I mean you need to step back and look at what you just did. I think the 52 is a great example of that I don’t want to go too much into that because I probably already ticked off a lot of people but it’s one of those things where if you don’t realize that if you’re not thinking about it when you make those decisions, then having it brought to your attention.

And I tried to do that isn’t in a sterile a ways I could but also showing hey this is what this did, and I hope it helps people understand the future to be able to try and step back and look at things more holistically, I tend, I’m, I’m a typical Virgo and that I want to solve things, And so while somebody is talking to me and what things are going on. My brain is already trying to think of solutions or possible ways to help or possible ways to do things, or who to get together, or you know just trying to figure out ways to create solutions. And so I’m listening, I’m doing that.

And then at the same time though, I want to make sure that you get the right people together at the table and also get people who probably aren’t heard enough, and encourage them, which I know is difficult and some people don’t, you know, want to be involved in that and that’s fine. But you know, just, just trying to figure out how to get that going, and because of that I think it’s one of my weaknesses is that I do tend to actually, had a boss tell me this, that’s a strength and a weakness that I jump to act very quickly, because I’m already been working on things, and my brains been working overtime.

And then I want to add, but I’ve taught myself, and it’s a struggle, it’s always a struggle for me to step back and kind of look at it before I make a decision before I actually do the thing. So, I will say having a bullet journal has helped immensely because then I can write down all my ideas and things, so I don’t lose them because I think in the past that’s what I’ve been kind of afraid of is that all that stuff that’s going through my brain is going to go and I’ll forget, and then I’m like, and I didn’t act on it so it’s like, yeah. And so I think you know just being able to write it down. And keeping in mind, and then being able to refer back to it and know that, oh I wrote that back then I want to make sure I don’t lose track of that.

And this person said this in this meeting, or I was in this webinar and this person said that and I want to touch base with them about that. Yeah, so I tried, I know with my liaison groups and counsel for those that are more communicative, I’ve tried just kind of, hey, I’m here if you need me, let me know what you need. I’ve always told people, you know, feel free to reach out to me DM me on Twitter, you know, if you feel like you need help with anything let me know.

So as far as my audience, I just want to make sure that I’m still listening and paying attention to what’s happening and staying relevant, which I think is also what’s great about the profession, period, is that you’re always having to work on yourself professionally to stay relevant because things are changing so fast. And I think it’s the same thing with leadership, you just can’t walk in with an agenda or something in mind and forget about everything else or not pay attention to everything else, it because it’s all at some point going to work into, you know, you can’t do one thing without thinking how it’s going to affect us or affect that, for example, COPA, you know the archival task force is going to look have to look at public awareness at some point, how do we start advocating and do outreach and marketing?

And for, and bringing public awareness to our global salaries on a whole to people outside of our profession that like HR departments, I have no idea what it is we do. Yeah, they’re the ones creating the job descriptions, they’re the ones posting them. So you know we want to be able to keep in mind that you know, the Committee on Ethics and privacy COPA, you know, other groups you know who can we work with that, you know, is probably outside our specific scope, but are adjacent. So I think just doing that and keeping that in mind, is helpful, keeps you sane.

Woody [0:38:37] Thank you for sharing that. You’re incredible. I mean, all of your answers have so much great information but I particularly appreciate the dealing with the mindset that you have which I have sort of a similar like I get distracted thinking about how to fix it. Yeah, I’m also a Virgo so maybe.

Gonzales [0:38:58] Maybe that’s why is, it’s a con and a pro.

Woody [0:39:03] Yeah, yeah so I love your suggestion of like get it down on paper so that it, you know, it can live there and then maybe I can refocus a little bit better, because the listening is so crucial because not everybody thinks the way that you think.

Gonzales So yeah that’s the other thing too, it’s like I keep thinking oh well this person has, I know this person went to grad school, I know this person went two years and it’s like, but I don’t know what courses they took, I don’t know how they what they took away from it, I don’t know what their experiences are, or how that’s colored, the way they think, or, you know affected the way they think, or what they do.

And so but I just for the longest time assumed that everybody in the profession, got some kind of standardized background and it’s not true at all. And, which is great because that’s what makes our profession so diverse, and just listen to the different backgrounds, experiences that people have had you.

Yeah, I just, I just think being able to listen and it’s something I have to constantly work and I just want to shut up and listen, because I’m also a talker. So, yeah, I was that kid on the report card. She talks too much, great grades talks too much. So yeah, it’s, it’s just having to constantly remind myself to listen, which is why seriously bullet journaling, if anybody has any questions, feel free to send me, but oh my god you can go down the bullet journal rabbit hole, the next thing you know you’ve bought way too many markers rates many templates way too many rulers you’d like I don’t need all these things, but anyway. See, there I go digressing about bullet journals, but yeah definitely listening and putting the notes down.

Woody [0:40:36] Well thank you so much for your time.

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