South Carolina Political Collections hosts congressional archivists

I want to thank everyone on the University Libraries team who worked so well together to present a highly successful and memorable 11th Annual Meeting of Association of Centers for the Study of Congress from May 14 to May 16.

The conference drew 42 congressional archivists, library administrators and congressional staff to Columbia. As we work in a Hollings-centric universe, we were pleased to see folks responsible for the papers of Hollings’ mentor, Richard Russell of Georgia; his mentee, Joe Biden of Delaware: and close friends, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Ted Stevens of Alaska, and Chris Dodd of Connecticut.

SCPC is gaining a reputation as an incubator of future archival leaders and we were proud to see two former SCPC student assistants on the program, Laura Litwer of Texas A&M Commerce and Debbie Todd of Baylor’s Poage Library.

The program opened with a keynote address delivered by former Democratic National Party chair Don Fowler. Seven panels considered the work of congressional chiefs of staff, campaign managers, innovative outreach, recent books and documentaries, the future of congressional archives, and “bridge” collections (non-legislative collections like League of Women Voters & political cartoonists). In addition, two former members of Congress spoke about their experiences having their papers collected. Program participants included our own Lori Schwartz;  former Hollings chiefs of staff Joey Lesesne and David Rudd; Floyd Spence chief of staff Craig Metz, whose dead-on impersonation of Strom Thurmond made him a favorite of the audience; campaign manager Jamal Gunn; Bryan Dorn biographer Jack Roper; and USC Professor of Library and Information Science Jennifer Marshall.

Attendees received a tour of SCPC and we were surprised that the one thing the group seemed most enamored of was our two-case exhibit just outside our processing area illustrating the steps in processing a major collection. We copied the concept from the Dole Institute and it sounds like the exhibit will soon be replicated at a number of our sister institutions. (For photos of the exhibit, please see our earlier blog post at http://library.sc.edu/blogs/scpc/2010/10/12/behind-the-scenes-level-5-exhibits/.)

Special thanks to Christine Nicol-Morris; Rob Smith; Dorothy Walker, who serves as Secretary of ACSC; Lori Schwartz; and Dean of Libraries Tom McNally, who encouraged and made possible our hosting this conference. We began planning for this years ago, when we first learned we would be moving to a new state-of-the-art facility. The meeting was all we expected it to be and certainly solidified our standing as a leading congressional repository.

Contributed by Herb Hartsook

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