It took Kathy Marquis only one encounter with a reference archivist in college to know she wanted to do that in her career. Now, she brings her years of experience and knowledge to her new job as Deputy State Archivist for the Wyoming State Archives.
“I’m excited to be here, to be learning about all the State Archives has to offer, and to be part of enhancing access to our collections and services,” she said. “So far, I’m spending time getting to know staff, doing all the online trainings that come with new jobs and reading up on all the accomplishments and challenges of my new workplace.”
In her undergraduate days at the University of Michigan, Marquis was in a group her women’s history professor brought to the Bentley Historical Library, the manuscript repository on campus. “The reference archivist gave us an introduction, and that was all it took to convince me that I wanted her job when I grew up.” She went on to Simmons College library school in Boston which had an archives program, but was already employed at what seemed like her dream job: manuscripts processor at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, at Radcliffe College. She organized and described the papers, and did original cataloging for records that went into the Harvard Libraries catalog.
“I got to do some reference occasionally, but mainly it was my opportunity to start digging into some of the most fascinating collections in the country.”
After she finished her MLS, Marquis became the reference archivist at the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections. “Such a different set of modern records, but a great learning experience. I served on the institute-wide reference committee, and I was there when the libraries implemented their first online catalog.”
From Cambridge, Marquis went to the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul. “Despite the quaint sounding name, MHS employs more than 300 staff. It runs the state library, archives, and manuscript repository, has a press, runs all the state historic sites, and has an education program that at the time served nearly 25,000 school kids a year. It was a busy place. I used to tell people that my reference interview sometimes consisted of yelling, ‘Next!’ I learned a ton about assisting patrons with genealogical searches and about working with government records.”
In 1999 she returned to the Bentley Historical Library, this time to finally “be” her early mentor, the head of the reference department. “I loved working with the grad students in Michigan’s School of Information, and with my colleagues there – some of whom had been there when I was a student, too.”
In 2002, her husband Mark Greene was offered the job of director of the American Heritage Center, so they made the move to Laramie. She began working at the Albany County Public Library, where she remained for 13 years. “I really enjoyed being able to assist the public in such important ways, from guiding them in how to use a mouse to organizing book discussion groups to selecting popular reading materials for the first time. Wyoming is so fortunate to have a strong State Library and consortial bargaining power for the amazing online resources available to every library patron. One of my greatest frustrations was realizing how many people have no idea that they have these sources at their fingertips!”
Although she was open to remaining in public librarianship when she left ACPL, she said archives was still her first love, so she was delighted when the Deputy State Archivist position opened. As she settles in, she said her challenges will include assisting State Archivist, Mike Strom, in looking at ways to make the records management system easier for agencies to implement, arranging for the long-term preservation of Wyoming newspapers, evaluating how best to preserve and make available the Archives’ scanned images and documents, and upgrading how the agency communicates online.
“I am lucky to have spent years in the public library system so that I have an idea of how our patrons find information and how we can be sure that the State Archives becomes part of that discovery process,” she said. “If anyone reading this has questions about what we have or how to offer it to your patrons, I’d love to hear from you.”