Archival Innovators: Julie Rockwell, the “Lone Arranger” at the East Broad Top Railroad

This is the latest post in our series Archival Innovators, which aims to raise awareness of individuals, institutions, and collaborations that are helping to boldly chart the future of the archives profession and set new precedents for the role of archivists in society. In this installment, COPA member Kristi Chanda interviews Julie Rockwell, archivist and “lone arranger” from Pennsylvania’s East Broad Top Railroad.

KC: What are your responsibilities at East Broad Top Railroad?

JR: First, I’m a Lone Arranger. I was hired in April of last year to herald the East Broad Top Railroad’s new Archives and Special Collections program, and I’m pretty much heralding everything from the beginning –  from scratch. I’m actually building the program. The East Broadtop Railroad National Historic landmark was in operation during its Common Carrier Era, as we call it, from its developments in 1856 to its closing in 1956. There was a little lag time in operations where it then went into tourist railroad operations, which basically stopped in 2011. The actual historic site was dormant until a new foundation, the EBT Foundation, purchased the railroad. There’s 33 miles of property that encompasses the National Historic Landmark, and they hired an archivist to tackle the inestimable amount of paper materials. bound volumes, ephemera, physical objects that encompass what we would call, either museum collections or typical organizational records and archives. I basically walked into a passenger station, which was built in 1906. In the station are 3 fireproof brick vaults, each between 950 and 1,400 cubic feet, and all of them 12 to 14 feet high. The vaults are filled with materials that have basically never been touched since the Common Carrier Era. Also, the headquarters of East Broad Top was in Philadelphia so all of those materials, when the railroad closed down, came to the Orbisonia passenger station. All of what we call the tourist excursion era, all of those documentation and recordings of office and records management stayed in the vault.  We’re also starting to collect this new revitalization and restoration documentation of the railroad, which is to become a steam excursion railroad once again. I came in with an overwhelming, daunting task.  I can’t thank the Johns Hopkins dual Museum Studies and Digital Curation Program, from which I graduated in December of 2020, for offering, and really preparing me for these foundational skills. I was able to take the courses in the foundations of archives, digital preservation and curation, and collections and catalog management, and really see archives from a bigger picture lens of what preservation means, and how much it takes to advocate for preservation purposes. For the EBT, I started to understand what materials we have, the conditions they are in, and what I can do to better secure and better environmentally protect the materials that are basically in a station that was built in the early twentieth century, considerations that have never been addressed before. I knew I had to build a mission statement, a scope of collections, a collections management policy, access and use policy, and all of the policies that are under that umbrella of preservation.

I also knew I needed help. I reached out to the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia. I was familiar with the Conservation Center. I had attended many online seminars and was also able to meet contacts there through PA Museums and the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH).

I called my contact up, and I said guess what i’m doing, and I know that we need a third party assessment. This was the only way that we could leverage big picture funding, and to have that deeper lens into what exactly we need from a conservation and preservation professional viewpoint and perspective. The Conservation Center experts were able to meet me and various advocates on the Foundation Board, as well as their sister organization, an all volunteer organization (and both of these are non-profit), the Friends of the East Broad Top. I had these particular constituents come together, meet with Dyani Feige and her preservation team, along with the director of the Conservation Center. After a couple of months, we were able to set up the ability to have an archival preservation needs assessment conducted.  The greatest thing about this is that we have incredible donors who were able to fund this assessment. 

Our mission, protecting, preserving, and providing access, not only to the historic site and to the railroad, could now address this deeper lens and the beauty of what we can find in the contextual layers of all of these archival materials. This mission is something that keeps me thinking about the archives every day, every night, and gets me up every morning.

KC: How did you prioritize your collections? 

JR: It was first to really get an idea of the scope of what we have. I was fortunate last summer to have an intern from one of the local colleges, and the first priority was to do a spot inventory. We were able to go into every area that we could find,what we would call archival materials,identify them by giving a general title, location, and noting the condition of the materials. Some items that need triaging would definitely be maps and drawings that the railroad operations actually need to help restore: track engines, box cars, different rolling stock, etc. Inventory pretty much took all summer and I’m actually still in the process of doing it. Almost every day I find something, and or someone has texted me that has another box of stuff on my desk. So it’s really an inestimable amount of linear feet but I’ve estimated between 3500 and 5000 ft of linear materials. The other triage that I focused on were the bound volumes. I do have bound volumes that are pretty depreciating, regarding conditions in terms of the bindings. However, all of the material inside, the documentation, is quite intact, which is fabulous.  But just to make sure that they’re not handled, we have stored them separately. I did store them in bins. Unfortunately they’re not acid-free. I’m doing everything on a shoestring budget. I am doing the “good enough” practices that I know that when I reach the next level, once I get a line item, funding, and a storage facility/repository, then I will be able to go to the next levels of preservation and conservation and have the materials reviewed by a conservator.  For now they’re wrapped in acid-free paper, and they’re put away. 

KC: What projects are you in the process of working on and what ones have you completed?

JR: Most important for me, I think as a Lone Arranger, is to know that there can be someone there to assist. I have 2 volunteers from the Friends, one is Scarlett Wirt. She worked with collections with the National Park Service, and she has organizational record experience. We also have, who we call the primary EBT scholar and historian, Dr. Lee Rainey, who knows everything you could imagine about the East Broad Top Railroad. They have been what we call our worker bees. The new archives task force appointed the 3 of us to work together closely. We have met almost every Tuesday on Zoom since last August, after I completed my initial report. We are building the program together. We are still developing policy and procedures. We know we can’t move forward unless we have many policies and procedures in place. Having the mission statement, having our goals and a strategic plan for at least the first 2 years, and then moving into the access and use policy, the scope of collections and all of those that will fall under environmental conditions is a priority.  The second component of that is my experience with digital curation and what I learned in school and applying this knowledge for the born digital records that are coming out of the Foundation, which is very important. We’re understanding that many grants will really want you to already have a collection online and public access in place. We don’t have an accessible reading room and we haven’t formally processed collections yet. Also, looking at the next step of digitization is making sure we have the right hardware and digital storage. We just purchased our computer workstation. So, making sure that all of my digital content is going to be safe, secure, and that the integrity of the digital objects and data are going to be in long-term, sustainable condition is a priority. Then there’s the digitization policy and making sure that the selected collections are doable, and that there’s a balance between that selection and also of what the public would like to see.  For example, I just documented the workflow of how to protect a map with mylar and that might seem very simple to many of us who are experienced in archives, but when I’m bringing on volunteers and interns, I want them to learn the right way. So it’s building all of these different layers, so we can actually, yes, scan our first small collection, which was a donation that we received last year and actually take it through the entire archival processing methodology, from the appraisal, the arrangement, the description, and then finally producing a finding aid, plus having the collections digitized and then accessible online. I’m kind of doing everything, well, all at once.

KC: What are some of the obstacles you have encountered and how did you overcome them?

JR: Last summer, Sammy, my intern, and I mostly worked on the second floor of the passenger station, and we would have a designated space for one day, but maybe that space would have to change. So we’d have to move our work for the day to another area.

 We would have maps splayed out to try to conduct our inventory on these small little tables. 

We didn’t have a space to call ours. I basically said that I don’t know what else I can do unless I have a designated space, that is, for the archives. I need tables to lay out materials, and I need shelves to at least start putting bins of materials on so they’re kept off the floor, and also to create my computer workstation. Having that space and advocating for that space was really critical, and having the necessary, organizational support from the management.

Photo credit to the EBT Foundation, Inc., courtesy of Matthew Malkiewicz

The other challenge to overcome is having people believe in the archives. Unfortunately, creating a formal archive was not, at first, a priority. I imagine the conversation starting with, “Oh, by the way, what are we going to do with all of these paper materials?” Many inherently understood the value of them, but they didn’t necessarily see the bigger picture of hiring someone to actually do that type of work. So I think that the biggest challenge right now is that I’m funded by donations, and I’m only funded part-time. Advocating for my role as the archivist is kind of like singing for my supper, and that can be very exhausting. There’s a balance between showing them what we can do, and I say “we,” because I think that we have a community of passionate people that are working for the EBT and I’m the leader heralding the archives work, but also helping the public understand that they need to support the archives. Together, through the organization and the public, there’s more advocacy coming from all points of the spectrum.  The public desires to see the materials. The Foundation and the Friends need to make sure that the archives continue with their organizational legacies and with their mission statements, which align with ours –  to protect, preserve, and provide this access, and also allows for me to continue doing this work. Or, it just falls apart. So it’s a balance of doing the work and advocating for the work.

KC: What goals do you have moving forward?

JR: My goal is to just keep doing the work strategically and carefully. I’ve been really mindful and open to understanding my limitations. I think the Foundation knows my general manager has been really happy to find someone who is adaptable and flexible, and not perhaps expected in a more established archives. I guess you could say that I understand that there’s limited resources. When you see where we started from last April to what we see now, we’ve done a heck of a lot to have a formal preservation needs assessment report in our hands, to have a great space where I can work, a designated space assigned in January specifically for the archives, to have the funding to keep me going for at least this year, having Sammy return after he graduates this spring as an assistant, and also to have another college intern work on a specific project funded by a grant. We applied for a grant from the National Railroad Historical Society for our maps and drawings project so we can purchase a wide format scanner, and actually start processing the inestimable amount of these materials. With hopefully getting this first grant, we hope we can garner more funding. We can advocate for more permanent funding also make sure that we have our T’s crossed and our I’s dotted to to leverage grant funding and become more prepared to be competitive. I think that the goal is just to keep doing the work and know that it’s time-consuming, it’s tedious, but I can’t imagine doing anything else right now,

KC: What lessons have you learned and what tools/skills have you developed as a result of your experience?

“Lost Tracks Of Time” Photo credit to the EBT Foundation, Inc., courtesy of Matthew Malkiewicz

JR: More leadership skills in the archives and trusting that it’s not what I’m always physically doing, but mentally knowing what work needs to be done. I credit a lot of this understanding from the Society of American Archivists (SAA). This will be my third year that I’ve been a member, and I feel that the organization’s inclusivity to archivists at all stages of the field is encouraging. I don’t necessarily like using the word ‘emerging’ because I think we all start from somewhere, and we build upon all of the different experiences that we have at different times in our careers. We’re always ‘emerging’. This is my fourth career, so I come from a long history of project management, being a director in the theater, teaching culinary arts and teaching American history. I come to this work from different perspectives and different career sets and skill sets, which makes me believe that archivists can have many talents and many different roadmaps to lead them to this point. I think that SAA has really connected me with amazing archivists that are mentors. I can even learn something from them just by following them on Twitter. Also really understanding that resources are out there. Especially for all archivists is to understand that we’re all in this together. There are different SAA section groups such as Preservation, Lone Arrangers, Collections Management, and Museum Archives, and you know somebody is gonna be in that group who will be very willing to talk to you and answer a question and provide you with additional resources. So I think that it’s knowing how to network, knowing how to ask the right questions, and not being afraid to ask those questions. For example, reaching out to the Conservation Center was an epiphany that I had in the middle of the night. I’m so glad that I trusted my instincts to know that I can’t do this alone, and if I have to be a Lone Arranger, then at least I’m gonna have a posse behind me to help lead me on.

Archival Innovators: An Introduction to CORDA’s Newest Initiative, the Facts+Figures Website

This is the latest post in our series Archival Innovators, which aims to raise awareness of individuals, institutions, and collaborations that are helping to boldly chart the future of the archives profession and set new precedents for the role of archivists in society. In this installment, COPA member Claudia Willett interviews four members of SAA’s newest committee, the Committee on Research, Data and Assessment (CORDA), who provide an update on the Committee and one of its newest initiatives, the Facts+Figures website. Jennifer King and Erin Passehl Stoddart are co-chairs of CORDA and Dennis Meissner and Chris Marino serve on the Facts+Figures team that led the redesign of the website.

What is CORDA?

The mission of the Committee on Research, Data and Assessment (CORDA) is to elevate awareness of archives by making central the role that research, data and assessment play in our ability as archivists to tell the story and show the impact of archives. There are many ways to increase awareness of archives – and one of the most powerful ways is to reveal trends and increase awareness through understanding data. How does CORDA elevate the importance of research and innovation, you might ask? CORDA provides access to significant and useful data and research about SAA, American archives, and their users that evidence the value of archives for society and help us improve our services to SAA members and to our consumers. The Committee supports research and creates, gathers, and preserves data by directing and engaging in these areas of activity:

●  Providing SAA members with standardized tools for gathering and analyzing data;

●  Providing a repository or portal for data and other research outputs;

●  Providing training on gathering, analyzing, interpreting, and using data; and

●  Providing up-to-date and reliable basic facts and figures about archives and archivists

Rounding out our charge is the task of asserting a research agenda to help guide research, assessment and data going forward.

Since establishment in 2019, CORDA has established and manages the SAA Dataverse; the SAA Facts and Figures website; training for archivists to conduct research; and an inclusively developed research and innovation roadmap to frame the profession’s work going forward. Accomplishing the above in a fairly short period of time has been made possible through the exceptional work of our committee[1].

Tell us about the Facts+Figures [F+F] microsite.

Facts+Figures (F&F) is designed to provide users with quick and simple access to information resources important to archivists or their constituencies. The resources on the site share the common quality of being derived from data – data compiled or created by archivists as a result of their research, data about archivists and archives from external agencies, and tools to enhance archival practice resulting from research data.

The newly redesigned F+F site is divided into three content channels: SAA Data Repository (SAA Dataverse), Evaluation + Assessment, and Tools + Resources. The Data Repository supports the deposit and reuse of datasets for purposes of fostering knowledge, insights, and a deeper understanding of archives and archivists. The page contains a search bar that enables users to search across the Dataverse and learn about the submission procedures and collection development policy. The Evaluation + Assessment channel may include at-a-glance dashboards, charts, graphs, reports, fact sheets and quick guides that support advocacy, explain archives and archivists to external entities, and provide insight into the functions of archivists and their repositories. The Tools + Resources channel may include software recommendations to perform tasks, how-to instructions and guidelines, checklists, best-practice guides, and self-assessment tools to employ data in support of advocacy efforts and in assessing archival impact.

Unlike the Facts and Figures page that preceded it, the reimagined F+F will be actively curated by CORDA and is a dynamic resource that will be augmented with new content items on a continuing basis. It will be a resource for archivists to turn to for quick information to aid them in advocacy efforts, to help them benchmark their performance against peers, and to adopt or adapt tools to make their work easier or conform better to best practices.

Do you see a role for data as an archival advocacy and awareness tool?

Yes! It is hard to imagine a more powerful storytelling tool than data. In fact, it is that desire that drove the creation of CORDA. In his SAA presidential address, “Bare Necessities,” Dennis Meissner argued that SAA must “concentrate on gathering, evaluating, and presenting the real quantitative and qualitative evidence that supports all the compelling narratives and theoretical arguments about the value of archives. We need this evidence because we have struggled for many years with the challenge of demonstrating the ‘value’ of archives via anything resembling objective measures.” He proposed that SAA form a Committee on Research and Evaluation (CORE), with a goal “to provide access to compelling data about American archives and their users that speak to the value of archives for society and that also help us improve our services to our consumers.”

In addition to archivists, who might benefit from these resources?

Funding, policies, and cultural heritage priorities are better informed when decision-makers have access to regular and reliable research, data and assessment. Future-thinking, forecasting and change initiatives grounded in facts and figures will best ensure that society values archives, and plans for the ongoing protections required to promote archival stewardship.

Research, data and assessment is also critical for auditing our efforts as repositories. Efforts like A*CENSUS I and II, and RepoData are more meaningful when data is gathered regularly and enables longitudinal analysis. Social reform is often made possible when decision-makers are confronted with incontrovertible data. As archivists, collections and records serve an evidentiary role and can impact decision making and analysis.

Management of archival resources requires short-term and long-range planning, and both always benefit from access to data. The need for data to underpin short-term and long-range planning is intensified during times of political instability, climate change, and interrogation of the racialization of memory work. Archivists, along with other professions in the cultural heritage fields, need centralized infrastructure for their assessment, data and research efforts, as well as an idea of how those efforts might be complementary efforts in a broader research framework. CORDA hopes that archivists will be inspired to see resources aggregated into a more coherent whole and inspired to help address gaps and all demand factual accounting of archival efforts.

What are the next steps for F+F?

Continue to build out and organize content for quick and simple access! Every archivist has their “go-to” resources that aid them in explaining their value, promoting themselves and their missions, and understanding their impacts and potential. We want to harness that knowledge and share it with the wider community. To contribute content to F+F, visit our microsite and click “suggest new content.”

Additional Resources

Dennis Meissner and Chris Marino, “CORDA’s New Facts+Figures Microsite Shares Data and Resources with Archivists” Society of American Archivists website

Erin Passehl Stoddart, Emily Lapworth, Maggie Hughes, Jane Fiegel, “Share, Preserve, and Reuse: The SAA Dataverse Invites Data about ArchivesArchival Outlook Society of American Archivists, March/April 2022, p. 12.

[1] CORDA committee members, past and present: Nancy Beaumont (SAA Executive Director) Mary Biddle, Sarah Buchanan, Paul Conway (Chair), Julia Corrin (Education Committee Liaison), Courtney Dean, Jasmine Jones (Council Liaison), Jennifer King (Chair), Amanda Hawk, Cristina Horak, Gwendolyn Higgins, Carli Lowe, Chris Marino, Sarah Pratt Martin, Dennis Meissner, Nance McGovern (Ex Officio), Jacqualine Price Osafo (SAA Executive Director), Ricky Punzalan (Council Liaison), Erin Passehl Stoddart (Chair), Jennifer Wachtel (Education Committee Liaison).

Federal Funding Impact Story #11

Project: Archives, Astoria Public Library

This post is the 11th in the series “Federal Funding Impact Stories,” as published on the ArchivesAWARE blog. As archivists, librarians, and museum professionals, we know how our collections, institutions, and local communities have benefited from grant funding from federal agencies, such as: Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Personal impact is powerful. Submitted stories will be posted to the ArchivesAWARE blog by the SAA Committee on Public Awareness, and promoted by the Society of American Archivists through their website and social media channels. All posts will be tagged #ImpactStories, along with tags for the funding agency and the state where the home institution is located. We hope to gather stories representing all types of archival repositories, and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, so please consider sharing your story–no impact is too small when it comes to advocating for federal support for the arts and humanities!

This Federal Funding Impact Story comes to us from Astoria Public Library, located in Astoria, Oregon. Astoria is a port city situated at the junction of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean. It was named after John Jacob Astor, an investor from New York City whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria in 1811. Astoria holds the distinction of being the first, permanent, non-Native American settlement on the Pacific coast. The collection holds nearly 70,500 physical items, including historical materials unique to Astoria and the Pacific Northwest region. The City of Astoria’s earliest records are general ledgers, lien documents, general warrants, planning maps, and settler-era cemetery records. In addition, there are materials documenting Astoria’s growth specific to logging, salmon, cannery industries, and additional port-related activities.

Federal Funding Information


This archive initiative began when Jimmy Pearson became the Library Director at Astoria Public Library in October 2016. For decades, archive materials dated from the present to before the founding of Astoria (1811) collected in the library basement. A previous lack of interest and resources meant the collections remained dormant and unidentified until recently: 2018. With an Oregon Heritage grant ($21,700), Director Pearson engaged a consulting historian and archivist, and put together a plan for approximately 1200 linear feet of historical materials. Under Pearson’s leadership, a team of experts and library volunteers worked to complete a collection assessment that identified needs and recommendations.  Training for handling and processing archival collections was delivered and an amazing cadre of volunteers have since processed approximately half of the collection. With an assessment performed and actionable activities identified, the next phase for the library was to find a sustainable yet effective method of publishing collections online for the community to access freely.

A note on the critical role local grants play.

It’s important to note that the Oregon Heritage grant was the first grant the library received for work on the basement archives, and it allowed the library to bring in additional expertise to help guide necessary foundation work. Upon successfully completing the grant, Director Pearson was able to seek out and secure both an Oregon Cultural Trust and an Institute for Museum and Library Services grants for FY2020 and FY2021. The work completed during the Oregon Heritage grant provided an essential underpinning to the application requests. Information gathered during the collection assessment, the adoption of a clear collection plan, and an existing base of trained volunteers helped create a compelling case for further funding. For organizations that are just starting out or are newer to grant writing, applying for local grants is a necessary first step and should be included in their funding strategy.

In March 2022, APL received a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant to digitize The Astoria Toveri. The Toveri was a newspaper produced by the Finnish community in Astoria in the early-20th century. The grant will be used to support a partnership with the University of Oregon Libraries’ Oregon Digital Newspaper Program. Digitization efforts will begin between July 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023

Specific to the IMLS grant, what was the need for the grant?

The archive collection was locked in the basement, unprocessed, and forgotten—for decades. No one knew what was down there, the community couldn’t access the materials, and the items remained largely unused in any regional history work. Two previous grants helped to facilitate assessment, identification, and description of the collections, but nothing was online. It was impossible to find the treasure trove of historical materials unless you knew about the basement in Astoria’s public library. The next step for the library was to shift to digital, but digitization, description creation, and cataloging projects are a massive undertaking—especially for a small, rural library. Additionally, a platform needed to be selected to facilitate the storage and presentation of the digitized collection.

What did the IMLS-funded project do to help meet this need?

With the IMLS grant, the library was able to thoughtfully research and select a platform that incorporates the following:

  • Digital preservation best practices
  • Archival descriptive standards
  • Easy to use for all user types
  • Financially sustainable
  • Facilitates online collection access  

Once a platform was in place, the team was able to move forward with describing, cataloging, and publishing 500 collection items to be available online.  

Where we found best practices meets sustainability. meets a majority of the library’s identified needs for an online collection platform. In choosing, the library was able to use the IMLS award to cover the 1x cost for joining. (There is no annual cost). This fiscal advantage means Director Pearson doesn’t have to worry about finding money annually to cover the cost. Additionally, as is cloud-based with a supportive team and community, the library can benefit from support—keeping the cost of outside technical support down.  For the library, offered the best balance of: easy to use, meets digital preservation best practices, and is financially sustainable. In other words, it’s permanent.

To offer a balanced perspective, it is important to note that wasn’t originally created for archives, and doesn’t host the usual data fields we’ve come to expect. Currently, to meet basic requirements for Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), missing data fields like “Creator” or “Identifier” have to use the tag field to capture the information. For example: “Creator:John Smith”. On a technical level this appears to meet DACS, though not in the traditional way we are used to.

For more on, please check out this webinar.

For more information on how Astoria Public Library is using, check out the Family Archiving with and Rachael Woody webinar that originally aired on September 20, 2021.

Abstract: Amberly Russell, Preservation Services Manager at Permanent hosts this informative talk about Preservation Services and what it is like working to create lasting legacies online. In this webinar we speak to Professional Archivist Consultant Rachael Cristine Woody about her experiences creating digital archives online for family and organizations.


Without volunteers, this project would not have been possible. No, seriously.

The COVID-19 pandemic altered our ability to do the project as originally envisioned. A squad of the library’s volunteers had received updated training and were meant to facilitate digitization and description work. This was no longer possible due to pandemic-related closures and limitations. Fortunately, the IMLS grant included budget lines for a consulting archivist and historian who now needed to perform the bulk of the descriptive work. But even this work wouldn’t have been possible without the thousands of volunteer hours invested prior to this project. For example, digital archivist volunteer, Eric Williams spent more than five years scanning items in the collection. When it was clear the IMLS project would need to be altered and mostly remote, the project was able to pull from the hundreds of items that had already been digitized, helpfully labeled, and available via Dropbox—thanks to Mr. Williams. Additionally, prior to the pandemic, Clatsop Community College students contributed to collection care, management, and identification while under John Goodenberger’s supervision. Their work provided insight into multiple facets of the collection and were the basis for descriptive work. Director Pearson notes that 1200 volunteer hours were contributed during this project thanks to Ove and Barbara Rasmussen, and Eric Williams.

In April 2022, Eric Williams was named an Oregon Heritage Commission Standout Heritage Volunteer as part of the Oregon Heritage Excellence Awards. Please join us in congratulation Eric on this well-deserved acknowledgement!

COVID-19 forced a reimagining of community outreach.

Available federal funding has a natural focus on how the award will benefit the community. Originally, the outreach the library intended to do involved onsite collection tours and a traveling lecture series. Neither of these were possible during 2020 and 2021. However, Director Pearson and the consultants were able to reimagine the in-person events into virtual events and recordings. There is now a YouTube playlist of collection features, an Ask Me Anything event, and showcasing the collections online. Below is a link to the playlist and a few example videos.

The Astoria Public Library playlist on YouTube:

The Astoria Public Library Archive Collections are Online, published October 28, 2021.

Abstract: This video announces the completion of an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to digitize, describe, and publish 500 historical artifacts online via Jimmy Pearson (Library Director) introduces the recorded announcement followed by Rachael Woody (archivist) and John Goodenberger (historian) who discuss the IMLS project, explain how they adapted their work due to COVID-19, and showcase the final product with Goodenberger highlighting several of the items and their interconnection. The collections can be viewed on here: https://


Ask Me Anything: Astoria Public Library’s Historical Collections, published December 17, 2020.

Abstract: This is an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session where City of Astoria historian John Goodenberger and consulting archivist Rachael Woody team up to answer questions related to the history of Astoria and the treasure trove of historical artifacts found in the basement of the Astoria Public Library. This webinar was made possible thanks to the Astor Library Friends Association and the Oregon Cultural Trust.


Featuring the August Hildebrand Collection from Astoria Public Library, published November 14, 2020.

Abstract: This video features items from the August Hildebrand collection. Listen in as city historian John Goodenberger shares highlights from the collection with consulting archivist, Rachael Woody. This project was made possible thanks to the Oregon Cultural Trust.


What was the primary impact of this project?

The historical collections at Astoria Public Library are now online via! The immediate and obvious impact is the library was able to acquire a critically necessary tool for broader access to the historical materials. The IMLS award made it possible for the library to implement and upload more than 500 digitized and described collection items. Thanks to the IMLS award and previous volunteer work, the library could continue making progress on the archive in an adjusted form. Finally, reimagined outreach in the form of videos has already attracted attention and use by Astorians, historians, the Preservation Artisans Guild of Portland (OR), and the great-granddaughter of August Hildebrand (the creator of one of our featured collections)!

APL would like to thank John Goodenberger and Eric Williams for their extensive contributions toward chronicling the history of Astoria, Oregon. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant: LG-27-19-0187-19.

About the Author: Rachael Cristine Woody is the owner of Rachael Cristine Consulting, a firm that provides services to archives, museums, and cultural heritage organizations. Rachael holds an MSLIS with a concentration in archives management, and more than 15 years of experience in history organizations — including the Smithsonian Institution and the Oregon Wine History Archive.