Behind the scenes, high on the fifth floor of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL), is a vast collection peppered with relics from Andover’s past. As students pass unwittingly in the lower levels of the stacks, Garver Room and the OWHL lobby, leadership of this invaluable collection, the Phillips Academy Archives, has changed hands.
On January 3, Dr. Paige Roberts succeeded Timothy Sprattler as the School Archivist.
Andover’s archives hold several pieces of the school’s history, with articles ranging from early land deeds and financial records to old fire buckets from the former campus fire station.
As the School Archivist, Roberts will be in charge of sorting, organizing and digitizing these mementos from Andover’s history.
Elizabeth Tully, Director of the OWHL, said, “Paige is poised to lead the Archive as we plan for an increasingly integrated digital future.”
After Sprattler announced his retirement in July, the school conducted a nationwide search for his replacement. According to Tully an archivist is a professional masters-level librarian who has completed special training in archiving.
Before stewarding Andover’s collection, Roberts prepared for the position by working alongside Sprattler over the course of a week.
Tully said, “Roberts goes far beyond the basic requirements expected of someone in her position,” said Tully.
Beyond her proficiency in organizing and preserving records, Roberts was selected because of her potential to “engage with the curriculum and prepare materials and activities to support original archival research by students.”
Roberts has also been named the Associate Director of the OWHL, a position which extends her duties to other portions of the library.
Roberts brings classroom experience to the position, having served as an instructor of American Studies at the University of Southern Maine (USM). At USM, Roberts helped provide references to scholars and design archiving spaces for institutions.
While an archivist’s primary job of sorting through historical data and documents is important, the OWHL thought it was necessary for the new archivist to be an active resource for students.
Throughout her professional years, Roberts has developed new archival techniques to increase the accessibility and vitality of the archived collections. While she was the director of the Beverly Historical Society, she developed “model archival collaborations” which allowed for the exchange of materials between schools and public libraries.
Roberts also served as the head of special collections at the State Library of Massachusetts in Boston, an archivist at Springfield College, Director of the Beverly Historical Society and will soon be the President of the New England Archivists.
To reduce the time it would take for Roberts to adjust to Andover and the OWHL, Sprattler spent his final months as School Archivist orchestrating an enormous renovation of the school’s archives. Just a week into her position, Roberts has been able to successfully navigate through the historical resources.
Roberts received a B.A. from Bates College in Political Science, a MLS from Simmons College concentrating in archives management, and a Ph.D. in American Studies from George Washington University with an emphasis in New England culture.