I grew up in an archive. The stacks were rows of red velvet seats; the texts, Jean Arthur and Orson Welles; Casablanca, the most requested tome. The reading room was a silver screen, and the preservation conditions entailed the scent of popcorn and chandelier light. I attended my first matinee at Palo Alto’s restored movie house, The Stanford Theatre, when I was four years old, and ever since, I have been in love with old things.

I began a life inspired by the treasured objects of the past: old films, old artifacts, old words. In high school, I reveled in our historical trivia hunt, which sent me to the stacks of Stanford’s library, where, dizzied by the microfilm machines, I lost myself in midcentury New Yorker magazines, searching for citations of a certain movie star. Studying in Oxford, I spent afternoons in the Bodleian Library researching the architecture of movie palaces, riveted by the layering of history, scholarship, and place. In college poetry workshops, I recalled childhood visits to the birthplaces of Dickinson and Wordsworth, reliving my wonder at how those vacant monuments kept their words so vital.

When I began to explore library and information science, I discovered scholars from remarkably diverse academic backgrounds who share this passion for historical objects and for preserving and promoting them through the new. With fresh incarnations of Gutenberg’s wizardry entering libraries every day—search engines, imaging tools, mobile apps—information science is uniquely positioned to filter an unprecedented volume of information. The questions become, then: with an unparalleled level of knowledge sharing and an unmatched array of technology for preservation, how do we determine what is worth maintaining, particularly when users have such precise needs and conflicting standards? How can we safeguard this knowledge in a medium that will outlast fleeting technological trends? And how can we circulate knowledge while protecting its integrity and enable users to locate it in a deluge of resources? In the born-digital future of information, where will the little girl in the old movie house--or in the library, the archives, the museum--go to find the storyworlds she loves?

Through coursework in traditional and digital archival theory and practice--in addition to professional work at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History and volunteer work at the Harry Ransom Center--I am attempting to investigate these questions with the hope of exploring the future forms of humanities archives and how I might play a role in their stewardship.