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Wilson Welcomes New Archivist

Posted: December 5, 2013

An encounter with a couple who visited the Hankey Center in search of information about the man’s mother, a 1941 Wilson College graduate who died recently, is exactly the sort of thing archivist Leigh Rupinski loves about her job.

She helped the couple find a variety of materials – yearbooks, class photos, scrapbooks, articles – that painted a picture of the woman’s years at Wilson. “They were thrilled to find out what her life would have been like at Wilson,” said Rupinski, who began her job as college archivist on Oct. 21.

As a history enthusiast who volunteered at libraries when she was younger, Rupinski enjoys being able to work with books and archival collections, while also helping people.

“The point of having all this stuff is so people can come in and use it,” she said.

The 24-year-old Grand Rapids, Michigan, native graduated last spring from the University of Michigan School of Information, where she earned a master’s degree in information. She got her undergraduate degree in English language and literature from Grand Valley State University, also in Michigan.

Rupinski, who worked in both universities’ archives, has training and experience using digital collection management software to organize archival materials and display images of them online. She is also well-versed in creating “finding aids,” which help users find what they’re searching for in an archival collection.

The job at Wilson “was exactly what I was looking for,” said Rupinski. “I like working in an academic setting. There is a lot of opportunity to work with the collection in different ways. Digitizing, preparing exhibits, handling the materials. This is a little bit of everything, which makes for a more exciting day.”

There was a time when Rupinski knew virtually nothing about what an archivist does. That changed in her junior year in college, when her history professor recommended that she look into the profession. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and he felt that archives would line up with my interests,” she said. “I followed his advice and I was really happy I did.”

Besides continuing to catalog materials in Wilson’s C. Elizabeth Boyd ’33 Archives, Rupinski wants to continue digitizing archival materials so they can be shared online, and also plans to increase and improve finding aids so it will be easier to locate specific subject matter.

Last Updated: December 5, 2013