Archivist broadens the field for people of color

Archivist broadens the field for people of color
History and SLIS student Nichole Manlove is working to create more diversity in her chosen field of archival administration.

The American Library Association reports that fewer than eight percent of the country’s librarians are black or Latino/a, with even fewer in leadership positions. Nichole Manlove is working to increase those numbers.

“There’s definitely a push to diversify the field of librarianship,” said Manlove, a history and School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) graduate student, as well as current archives assistant at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. “Having more minorities in the field helps broaden society to have more respect for our cultures.”

A diversity graduate student assistantship helped to provide financial support to Manlove at Wayne State, allowing her to promote librarianship to groups underrepresented in the field, while also highlighting the importance of archival administration.

“Many people don’t realize you can get a degree in librarianship, let alone a master’s, so they may also have certain misconceptions about what people do,” said Manlove, who has served as president of Future Librarians for Inclusivity and Diversity, and presented nationwide. “Minorities such as myself need to really start promoting. The push raises our sense of self-worth and pride.”

With her focus in archival administration, Manlove helps to catalog and preserve historical artifacts at the Wright Museum. She has worked to preserve artifacts from Dr. Charles H. Wright and Rosa Parks.

“About two years ago I was delighted to process a small collection of papers that once belonged to Rosa Parks and were actually found in the trash,” said Manlove. “An anonymous donor found them in really bad condition, and it was through that project that I really got to learn about archiving from beginning to end, including appraisal, preservation techniques, and even vacuuming the documents because they had mold.”

As a dual-enrolled student in history and library science, Manlove’s position at the Wright Museum allows her to blend her historical training with librarianship.

“My history classes are heavily based on research and reading, and that’s a plus of archivists,” said Manlove. “If you work in a historical institution, you’re going to be asked to research certain aspects of history and find primary sources to verify aspects of that research.”

After an initial career in advertising, Manlove has found her niche in archival administration and is grateful for the support Wayne State has provided to her through fellowships, professional development and the chance to focus on something meaningful.

“Because I have such an interest in African American history, I have an interest in preserving that in my work,” she said. “We’re helping to bring history alive.”

(January 13, 2017)

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