Beth Levitt, a Certified Archivist, is currently an Archives Specialist for the National Archives at Philadelphia. She received her BA from Purdue University (Boiler Up!) and her MA from Florida State University (Go Noles!). Beth has previously held positions at the Presbyterian Historical Society and Thomas Jefferson University.
ABA: In a few sentences, tell us what you’ll be presenting at ABA.
BL: I’ll be talking about the Senior Artists Initiative which is an organization founded to help educate artists, towards the end of their career, about the process of documenting and inventorying their work/papers. We also help them understand legal issues pertaining to their art, estate, and rights as an artist. I’ll also provide clips from a few of the oral history interviews we’ve produced.
ABA: What do you hope audiences will get from your talk?
BL: I hope the audience learns about an organization they probably never heard of before, or thought existed. Also, that this organization could provide opportunities for archivists to work with artists. Anyone interested?
ABA: Which of the following do you prefer: “an archive” or “an archives”?
BL: Hum, I’ve used both. Usually I say “an archive” and mean the physical building; in the past I also used the term “an archives.” But I try not to use the latter anymore since presenting a workshop on archival basics where I was “reproved” by a participant for using the plural form without the correct verbiage! EEK, ask me about what I’m teaching but don’t take on my grammar!
ABA: On a scale from 1 – 10, (10 being hardest) how easy would it be for other archivists to implement the project you’re presenting here?
BL: For just an archivist it would be tough – probably a 10. Our board includes artists, art appraisers, lawyers, and an archivist (me) – we all have a different areas of expertise. It is the combination of our knowledge that allows us to help the artist. One area we hope to expand is by providing information to other groups who may want to establish a similar organization. And I would love to get archival students involved.
ABA: And now for your very special BONUS question: What are your thoughts on the use of “archive” as a verb?
BL: I find it funny! When I became an archivist most people had no idea what that meant – I was called an arbitrator, activist, and anarchist before I provided an explanation. Now lots of people have heard about archives and archivists and the verb is used by everyone – incorrectly most often, but still it’s good to get the word out!
ABA: Thanks, Beth! We look forwarding to hearing more about the Senior Artists Initiative on Feb. 28th!