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LSU Today Flagship Faculty

Archive
Elizabeth Dow

Elizabeth Dow

Associate Professor
School of Library and Information Science

What was your previous position and where?

I was a librarian/archivist in special collections at the Bailey/Howe Library at the University of Vermont. I finished my Ph.D. in 1988 and went back to the profession to push the envelope a bit.

What brought you to LSU?

In 1999, I was recruited to set up an archival education program in the School of Library and Information Science, and the opportunity seemed too good a challenge to pass up. I arrived for the 2001 spring semester.

What is your research interest?

How to bring strong professional education and training niche academic areas, like archivists, i.e., the professionals responsible for gathering and maintaining historical records in institutional and governmental archives and repositories like libraries and historical societies. That sparse distribution of jobs translates into a sparse distribution of students. As a result, most archival education programs are small and inadequate. In my first five years at LSU, my research focused on developing a model for providing a robust education in a niche topic when an institution has only one faculty member. With the support of a federal grant, we now have an ongoing collaboration with four other universities, and we all offer at least four archives courses each semester Ė at no additional cost to LSU or any of the partner universities. Itís a model any niche educational field could adopt.

My current research focuses on LSUís land-grant mission - creating and disseminating knowledge so it is accessible and useful to the world of practice. Again, with federal funding, Iím working out a model for assuring frequent, high-quality, inexpensive, close-to-home and self-sustaining continuing education programs for staff and volunteers in libraries, historical societies, local government offices and other small repositories that care for millions of historical documents. The people will do the work; they need training in doing it properly. Weíre testing the model in a three-state collaborative - Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. When we finish, we will have a model that anyone anywhere can use.

What do you hope to accomplish at LSU?

I want to demonstrate how to create a solid infrastructure for educating and training in niche programs, and to put one in place for like archival education. The educational delivery models Iíve developed do that. In my research and writing, I synthesize difficult cutting-edge research results in technical topics into language that working archivists can use as they address the changing nature of historical records. My second book focuses on the preservation of, and access to, electronic records, i.e., how can we archive e-mail?. While much research on the topic occurred over the past two decades, it focused on the legal needs of large institutional and corporate archives. I synthesized the best practices and standards useful for small repositories into language that makes the information available to those in local institutions who preserve the cultural heritage of their state or region.

What do you enjoy most about LSU?

The friendly collegiality among the SLIS faculty and the wonderful graduate students all around me.

What are your major accomplishments?

To date, I've created two viable organizations and published two books. I have a third book in the works; I donít know about a third organization.

 




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