May 15, 2012

CAMA Spotlight: Scott Pitol, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)

 Spotlight on Scott Pitol

A new CAMA blog feature... Member spotlights! 

With this new feature, you can get to know the people and institutions who offer resources in Chicago concerning the history of medicine, medical education, and related topics. 

Our members come from a variety of backgrounds and work with diverse collections, so we thought we'd tell their stories. We hope this new feature is of interest to fellow archivists, students, researchers, and anyone curious about what in the world archivists do. (Yes, a common question archivists hear from the general public is a tentative, "So...what do you do?")

An archivist in his natural habitat, Scott Pitol
This first submission comes from one of CAMA's newest members, Scott Pitol. Scott joined the University of Illinois at Chicago as University Archivist and Assistant Professor at the beginning of this year. As University Archivist, Scott manages the University Archives at both the Daley Library on the east side of campus and the Library of the Health Sciences on the west side of campus in the Illinois Medical District.

He's wrapped up his first semester in this position and took some time to answer a few questions about where he's been and what he's doing. Feel free to leave questions in the comments. Let's get a conversation going in the comments section and see what happens.

 Take it away, Scott:

How has UIC's Special Collections and University Archives changed during your time there?

You would think that my repository couldn’t change too much in the short time that I’ve been at UIC; however, it has recently changed dramatically.  Part of my job as the University Archivist is to lead campus wide Records Management efforts.  In April, we hired the first Assistant Director of University Records and Information Management Systems who reports to me and also coordinates with the other University of Illinois campuses.  It will be great to have some help with Records Management.  

What drew you to this position?

I went to Library School with the intention of leaving the corporate world to secure a job in an academic archives.  I completed my studies with a practicum hosted by then UIC University Archivist Doug Bicknese [now Regional Archives Director at the National Archives-Great Lakes Region in Chicago -ed.]  When I graduated, I was happy to find a job, but it was back in corporate (The Pampered Chef).  After 5.5 years the UIC position became available.  I jumped at the chance to get back to the academic world.  I enjoy working in this environment and think being around young adults helps keep a person young.  At least I'm hoping that's the case. 

What drew you to archives and special collections?

Basically, I like to help people find answers to their questions.  The long answer is that I've always been the type of person who gets stopped by strangers and asked for directions.  Oddly enough, I more often than not have the answer regardless of where these encounters take place: locally or while away for a conference or on vacation… even when traveling abroad.  When searching for a new career, I realized that I liked helping people find things and discovered Library Science.  It was a short leap from there to the archives, where I found that I liked working with the unique items held in archives rather than secondary sources.

What's one of your favorite collections?

I’ve always had an interest in architecture. One of my favorite collections comes from the Office of Facility Information Management (OFIM), with construction records and photographs that dovetail nicely with a large collection of campus blueprints that were languishing on the floor of our warehouse in two large piles. I’d just begun processing the blueprints when the opportunity arose to acquire the OFIM collection. I realize that I've picked the newest collection through the door as my favorite, but I doubt there are many collections that will compete with this one for my affection.

What has been one of your favorite outreach projects?

UIC is celebrating the 30th anniversary of merging the University of Illinois Chicago Circle (UICC) and the University of Illinois at the Medical Center (UIMC) into one campus. I’m currently preparing a display that will mount this fall and serving on the committee planning the event.

What does CAMA mean to you?

CAMA provides the opportunity for archivists in a very specific niche to come together and share experiences.

Any archives blogs you recommend?

Now up to 50 things, this site was created by the Society of American Archivists' Reference, Access, and Outreach Section as an online program designed to help archivists learn about some of the most commonly used social media (or Web 2.0) tools.  Until recent years, I've always been up on new technologies.  I've started to lag behind on Web 2.0 for some reason (maybe because I'm becoming a curmudgeon: "Hey, you kids!  Get off my digital lawn!"), so this site is a big help.

--Thanks, Scott!  Great stuff. If you have questions for Scott or CAMA, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section. We'd love any feedback on this new feature of the CAMA blog.

Next Month: A spotlight on the American College of Surgeons Archives. See you then!

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