Touring a library archive may have led one current School of Information Studies’ student to a job.
In the spring of 2009, Jamie Metrailer, who is finishing his Certificate of Advanced Study in Archives and Records Administration, visited the Clinton President Library in Little Rock, Arkansas for an assignment. The visit was part of Professor Amy Cooper Cary’s Introduction to Modern Archives Administration, course offered as part of the certificate program. During the visit, Metrailer got to meet the archival staff, a fortuitous event, it may seem: in November, Metrailer accepted and began a position as an archivist with the National Archives and Records Administration at the William J. Clinton Library and Museum.
Although Metrailer credits his continuing work at SOIS and Cooper Cary’s course for providing “a better understanding of archives and records management,” his track-record of experience and education is impressive. A 2001 graduate of Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, Metrailer took a job straight out of college working for the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) in Little Rock. While working for CALS, he attended courses towards a Master’s in Public History at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
It was during this Public History program that Metrailer first encountered life in the archives. His courses required him to visit “several local archives,” including one that made the biggest impact on him, CALS’ Butler Center for Arkansas Studies right in Little Rock. After visiting the Butler Center, Metrailer was hooked; in 2008, right before he finished the Public History degree, he took a job working as an archival assistant with CALS’ Bill Clinton State Government Project.
In his position with the Bill Clinton State Government Project, Metrailer helped process papers produced by Clinton’s staff during the time he served as Governor of Arkansas (1979-81, 83-92). He had been with the Central Arkansas Library System for 7 years. Starting in January 2009, he enrolled in SOIS’ Certificate of Advanced Study in Archives and Records Administration program.
So far, Metrailer has enjoyed taking online courses with SOIS. “The certificate has provided both a more detailed and a broader understanding of specifically archives” he notes. Metrailer says that he has also been able to draw on his Publ ic History Masters background which included courses on museums, historic preservation, and more academic history.
The big break came just after Metrailer had begun his first SOIS courses. In an assignment for Cooper Cary’s class, Metrailer had a chance to visit the archival division of the Clinton Presidential Library. On his tour, Metrailer says that he took the opportunity to ask as many questions as possible. By doing this, he was not only demonstrating his interest in the subject, but making himself known to the staff as well. It paid off.
The contacts that Metrailer made on the tour directly resulted in obtaining his current position as archivist at the Clinton Presidential Library. The honor is a big one. The Clinton Library, which is overseen by the National Archives and Records Administration, is one of only thirteen presidential libraries in the nation. According to the website (http://www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org/) the Clinton Library houses “largest archival collection in American presidential history.”
Opened in 2004, the Clinton Presidential Center is also home to the Clinton Musuem, the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service and Little Rock offices of the Clinton Foundation. For Metrailer, it’s a chance to not only do what he loves, but stay in the same at home in Arkansas.
The best part of archives, according to Metrailer is working directly with the public. Although, it’s not a big part of the position, likes the idea that he is disseminating as much information as possible. At the moment, he says he’s enjoying his job. One of the things that he didn’t know when he took the position was how much of the position would be legislated. That doesn’t concern him though. “It is good for archivist to have these guidelines in place when making access decisions,” he explains.
Congratulations Jamie and good luck!