I had the great fortune of meeting this week’s guest, Miranda Mims, at a roundtable discussion hosted by Minda Harts at SXSW. (Yes, SXSW again!). After the roundtable, I organized an impromptu dinner at the Elizabeth Street Cafe, which is one of my favorite restaurants in all of Austin, Texas. As luck would have it, Miranda said yes to joining and really got my brain cooking. I asked her a million questions about what it’s like to be an archivist. I found it fascinating and knew I had to invite her to the podcast.
In this episode, we chatted all about what archivists do. Plus, we talk all about how to decide what to keep and what to get rid of - the physical items, a mindset, or even the mental clutter - what we carry around as human beings. I hope this conversation with Miranda frees you up.
Miranda has serious professional cred from interning at The Library of Congress to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art to the archives at Catholic University. Currently, Miranda is the special collections archivist for discovery and access at the University of Rochester.
Turn on your favorite listening device and join me to learn more about knowing “when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, or when to walk away,” with my guest, Miranda Mims.
Selected link love + resources from the episode
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Quotes + selected highlights from the episode
All of this wisdom is from Miranda herself (with some minor edits for readability).
[00:08:55] Our biggest responsibility is to make sure that everything in our care will be around 100 years from now, so people can understand who we are today.
[00:14:48] You are trained in the selection process of what gets preserved and what doesn't. A lot of that is dictated by research trends in that time period. You are predicting what people will find interesting in the future.
[00:22:37] I am extremely passionate about developing collections that speak to ordinary people.
[00:32:00] We have hospital records and some social service records, but that only tells you a piece the bureaucratic part of the puzzle. You know that doesn't actually tell you what individuals were thinking and feeling, or what drove them every day. What were their passions?
[00:43:11] I think you're more productive when you are just focusing on one thing. One of the ways [I manage] is just to say, “This is the time only for the management of this project, and that's it.
[00:42:35] You can see how things are coming together even if it's a slow pace. You are incrementally working or chipping away at something that feels good at the end.
[00:58:24] I think success is to being able to wake up every day with a sense of real purpose and a deep belief. That's how I'm spending my moments in the turbulent times.
[01:02:34] I think stepping away is a good remedy. Taking yourself completely out of the situation and not thinking about it. For me, what I do to relieve stress is to regroup and get on that level ground, so that I'm not coming from a very emotional place.
[01:08:58] I think just trying to keep the endgame in perspective and what is really important for me to accomplish is most critical. If I feel like the situation calls for it, I would fight it. If not, I let it go because it's not worth the trouble of constantly fighting battles.
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