Beth Golding joined the CoSA Board in 2020. She is a member of the Education and Training Committee.
- Tell us a bit about your career journey.
I started as an undergraduate history major with no career direction other than “anything but teaching.” An undergraduate internship at the New York State Archives in my final semester introduced me to the wonders of archives and archivists, and from then on, I knew exactly where I wanted to be. Thanks to training provided by some amazing professional mentors (now long-time friends), I had the good fortune to secure a couple of grant-funded project archivist positions. Those led to a full-time position at the NYS Archives for 10 years, then another at the State Archives of Florida, where I never would have predicted I would stay for 28 years and wind up my career as State Archivist.
- Did you always want to lead a state archives?
Nooooooo! In my dream archival world, I would be where I started, elbow deep in unprocessed collections, creating (original) order out of chaos. But I was fortunate to have other opportunities to work in and then manage a variety of archival and records management functions, and over the years I realized that I might have something to offer in a leadership role.
- What do you find most gratifying about your work? Most challenging?
There many gratifying aspects to this work, most relating to people.
One is seeing beginning and early-career archivists grow into capable and confident professionals, including some who I instructed (“anything but teaching” indeed!) in a graduate/undergraduate Introduction to Archives class through Florida State University’s Historical Administration and Public History program, who then completed internships with us and later were hired to our staff and began their own rise through the ranks.
Another is witnessing the immeasurable satisfaction of people we have been able to help or touch somehow with our work, from an academic researcher completing a book drawing heavily from our collections and letting us know how much they appreciate our collections and our assistance, to individuals searching their family history and establishing the feeling of connectedness they had been seeking, to students experiencing archives for the first time and whose eyes pop open in awe when looking at an image or a document that speaks to them or surprises them or amazes them.
Certainly a tremendously gratifying aspect to this work is when we acquire an exceptionally valuable collection and have the opportunity to preserve it and make it available for use, knowing that it will provide people with not only new information, but new understandings of our past and how we got “here” from “there.”
Most challenging is ensuring that staff have all the tools and resources they need to thrive and succeed in a 21st century archival repository, including competitive compensation packages and a facility, environment and work culture that promote efficiency, productivity, comfort and work satisfaction.
- What prompted you to join the CoSA Board? What is your role on the board?
I had benefited from CoSA educational offerings for many years, so when I was asked to join the Board and in particular to serve on the Education and Training Committee, I was pleased to do so as an opportunity to help provide such offerings to staff and managers in state archives around the country.
- What do you see for CoSA ahead?
With the combination of experience-based wisdom from long-term archivists and the energy and new ideas of newer professionals, CoSA will continue to assess how government archivists do their jobs, what they need to do those jobs effectively, and what practical steps we can take to help each other do so, and to create tools and resources to make all that happen.
- How can members get more involved with CoSA?
Think about what you enjoy about the profession and how CoSA has benefitted you, and contact CoSA leadership about how your interests and talents might benefit the organization and the archivists it serves.