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Renowned archivist has big plans for CSU

Special Photo
Richard Pearce-Moses, who is considered to be a pioneer in the area of digital archiving techniques, took over as the director of Clayton State University's new master's in archival studies program in June.

Special Photo Richard Pearce-Moses, who is considered to be a pioneer in the area of digital archiving techniques, took over as the director of Clayton State University's new master's in archival studies program in June.

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Clayton State University hit a home run when it hired Richard Pearce-Moses to be the director of the school's new master's in archival studies program, according to Georgia's top archives official.

Pearce-Moses, who has been an archivist for 30 years, took over as the archival studies program director in late June. He is the first director of the program, which began with its first two students at the beginning of the spring 2010 semester.

While the establishment of the program, itself, was no small feat, because there are very few, full-blooded, stand-alone programs of its kind in the nation, Georgia Archives Director David Carmichael said the hiring of Pearce-Moses is a really big deal.

Pearce-Moses, a former president of the Society of American Archivists, is well-known throughout the U.S. archivist community as a pioneer in the area of digital archiving techniques, said Carmichael, on Friday.

"He is extremely well-known among archivists across the nation, and I think he puts Clayton State on the map as far as the professional is concerned," Carmichael said.

Pearce-Moses is tasked with building up a program that is almost one of a kind. When it was approved by the University System of Georgia's Board of Regents in 2009, officials with national archivist groups said it was only the second free-standing archival studies program they were aware of in the U.S.

Many schools that do offer degrees in archival studies, make it an emphasis area within another degree, such as library science. Therefore, there just is not much of a model for Clayton State officials to follow. But, Pearce-Moses said he sees that as a good thing. "This way, I am able to develop a program that is purely archival in nature," he said. "Archival studies, and library science are really two different things. Archivists deal with unique records that have not been published before. Librarians deal with books that are not unique, and have been published before."

He also said he was attracted to the job, because it was a building opportunity. "One of the reasons why I was interested ... was that it was a fairly new school, and a brand new program," he said. "You get to start from scratch."

Prior to coming to Clayton State, Pearce-Moses spent 11 years working at the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records: first, as the coordinator of that archives Cultural Inventory Project; and later, as director of digital government information; and eventually, as the deputy director for technology and information resources, according to his curriculum vitae.

Prior to that, he worked at The Heard Museum, in Phoenix, Ariz.; for Arizona State University's Department of Archives and Manuscripts; in the Texas State Library and Archives Commission's Local Records Division; for the Texas Historical Foundation, and in the University of Texas-Austin's Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.

Last year, he received the Library of Congress' Digital Preservation Pioneer Award. He also received the Library Information Technology Association's Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology, in 2007.

Additionally, he was the president of the Society of American Archivists from 2005, to 2006.

"We are extremely fortunate and very excited to have Richard Pearce-Moses join us here at Clayton State University," said Lila F. Roberts, dean of the Clayton State College of Information and Mathematical Sciences, in a written statement. That college is where the archival studies program is housed. "His enthusiasm for the field, and his significant contributions on a national level will be of tremendous benefit to our students," Roberts added.

Pearce-Moses said Clayton State's archival studies program currently has only seven students, but he would eventually like to reach the point where he has 12 new students coming into the program every semester. He said he also wants to eventually take the program online, making it available to working archivists who can benefit from learning the latest archiving techniques, but cannot afford to move to Morrow.

The area, he said, he and university officials most want to focus Clayton State's master's program on, is digital archiving. He said it is an emerging area, and one that is proving to be a bit difficult for archivists, who are used to dealing with paper documents.

The issue is how to preserve digital records and information, such as e-mails and documents that are written in word-processing programs that can become obsolete after only 10 to 20 years. But, Pearce-Moses said archivists also have to find a way to preserve Twitter and Facebook posts, because they will ultimately be as important to archivists as letters and other correspondence, that were written on paper.

"Archivists are really concerned about how they will preserve digital records," he said. "Correspondence is important to archivists, because it helps them understand daily life during a specific time period ... Now, instead of letters, we have blogs, and e-mails, and now we have to find a way to preserve these documents."