The Society of California Archivists (SCA) recently elected UCR Library’s Eric Milenkiewicz as Vice President / President Elect.
Formed in 1971, SCA is a professional association devoted to the support and development of individuals and institutions that collect, care for, and provide access to the documentary heritage of California and adjoining areas.
As the VP / President Elect, Milenkiewicz will have a hand in the programming for the SCA’s 2019 Annual General Meeting, which draws several hundred archivists from across the state. He will also be involved in planning the 2020 Western Roundup in San Francisco, where attendees from four regional archivist associations in the west converge.
Milenkiewicz first started working in the library as a student employee. After graduation (class of 1999), and while earning his MLIS degree from San Jose State, he worked in a variety of positions, mostly in Special Collections & University Archives.
His current role as Digitization Services Program Manager complements his primary passion in library work, archives. With his knowledge of digitization, he sees serving as the VP / President Elect of SCA as an opportunity to get the archival community thinking differently about how they work.
“Today’s archivists possess skillsets that can be applied to many other areas of the library, and even to other industries,” Milenkiewicz said. “In addition to the traditional archival work, many of us code, work with advanced imaging equipment, and manage digital assets. These technical skills can open up many other avenues and job opportunities for us.”
He added, “Much of the information we interact with today is in digital form, but a lot of historical information is still only available in print. Taking this material and digitizing it opens it up to a whole new audience that probably didn’t even know it existed.”
Milenkiewicz values how new technologies can empower underrepresented communities to create and maintain their own digital archives. In 2017, he wrote a grant proposal which was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that enabled the UCR Library to work with the Sherman Indian Museum to digitize their collections.
“Honestly, looking back on my career thus far, that’s probably my greatest accomplishment,” he explained. “The Museum receives virtually zero funding and has operated for more than 40 years primarily as a result of the passionate volunteers in their community. They needed funds to help preserve their collection and thankfully we received the financial support to do that digitally.”
Milenkiewicz was initially drawn to archives because of his passion for history. “What I find most fulfilling is being able to surface hidden or untold stories so that people can learn their history, learn their culture,” he explained. “Now, instead of merely trying to provide access to the physical materials, it’s also about digitizing it. Making sure this material is preserved, it’s safeguarded, it’s accessible for people to find and use.”