Archivist to preserve the history of UC Cooperative Extension
A professional archivist will begin work in August to document and preserve the history of UC Cooperative Extension. Lisa Vallen, who completed her master's degree in library information science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in spring 2016, was hired by the UC Merced Library under a memorandum of understanding with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Vallen has a range of experience in archives processing and description, physical collections and preservation as well as digitization.
“I am pleased to have someone with her energy, initiative and organizational skills in this position,” said Emily Lin, head of digital assets at the UC Merced library.
During a one-year pilot project, Vallen will work with UC Cooperative Extension offices in Merced, Ventura and Humboldt counties to conduct an inventory of local resources, assess existing records and select material that has potential historical or research value. Most materials will be digitized and stored on a web platform so they can be accessed by scholars throughout the world. In addition, truly unique documents (such as maps and photos) will be kept in hard copy form.
UC ANR vice president emeritus Barbara Allen-Diaz initiated the project following the UCCE Centennial in 2014, when the need to curate and preserve UCCE history became apparent. She chose to work with UC Merced, the newest campus in the UC system, because the school has placed a high emphasis on the development of digital collections, said Jan Corlett, chief of staff to the vice president of UC ANR. The project also furthers the growing relationship with UC Merced established by Allen-Diaz when she placed two UCCE specialists at the Central Valley campus in 2014.
UC Cooperative Extension Ventura County academic Rose Hayden-Smith, a historian by training who is on special assignment as editor of the UC Food Observer blog, will work with Vallen on collecting the historical information from Ventura County.
“We have amazing resources,” Hayden-Smith said. “We have research information on soils, water and crop trials going back 100 years. We have information that will have value for agricultural science historians as well as cultural and social historians.”
UCCE Merced County director emeritus Maxwell Norton will coordinate with Vallen to collect Merced historical information and UCCE Humboldt County director Yana Valachovic will coordinate with her on the Humboldt collection.
After the pilot is complete, UC ANR administrators will consider how to go forward on archiving information from other UCCE county offices.
“It would be a wonderful thing if county directors throughout the state would set aside historical information as they run across it,” Hayden-Smith said. “That will be helpful down the line if we extend the project to additional counties.”