10 Questions with Paige Roberts

Paige Roberts is the Director of the Archives and Special Collections at the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library. When Roberts is not on campus, she enjoys hiking in the White Mountains and going to the beach.

1. What’s your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is working with students. I feel like there are so many interesting projects and compelling questions that students have that are worth exploring through material in the Archives. That’s fun.

2. What is one thing you’ve learned during your time at Andover?

One interesting thing is the wide variety of questions that people can ask using the material in the Archives about school history or other topics in, say, U.S. history.

3. What’s it like doing research into the past?

I’m thinking about my own experience as a researcher, and I have to say that it can be very frustrating. Because unlike in the library, where you can go and either pull a book off the shelf or somehow find it from some other library, you’re having to look through a lot of primary source documents, and you may not actually find what you’re looking for, and you may have to shift your question a little bit, the issue that you’re exploring. So it can be frustrating. Research can be intimidating. It can be sad if there’s sad information, let’s say about a student who passed away 100 years ago. And it can be exciting. I think particularly the connections that you can make about people in the past are really pretty amazing sometimes.

4. What does your daily routine look like?

One thing I really like about my job is that it is very varied. Because I am the only person doing the Archives and Special Collections, I do everything from working with alumni to bringing new donations in and new collections in…I also have various transcription projects, so projects for students to transcribe primary source documents in the Archives. And then I’m always trying to work on improving my website.

5. What is your favorite book?

It’s such a common thing to say probably, but, in some ways, my favorite book is the one I’ve read most recently. I feel like I’ve read so many amazing books lately. One of them was actually this really incredible book called “Soul Mountain” [by Gao Xingjian]. He was, I think, the only Chinese author to win the Nobel Prize. It was written around 1980…It’s sort of autobiographical, a true story about this guy who was diagnosed with cancer, and he basically goes on this amazing bus trip and then he walks up this mountain, then meets a hermit and has all these just amazing experiences. A really extraordinary book.

6. What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

I have recently become sort of a reluctant dog person. I never liked dogs, and now we have a dog and I like dogs now.

7. Do you have any crazy experiences you want to share?

I’ve had some pretty intense experiences winter hiking in the White Mountains. You know when it’s below zero and there’s ice and you’re trying to climb up this sheer face with ice, wearing crampons after hiking eight miles.

8. What’s one thing you cannot live without?


9. What’s your favorite spot on campus?

I don’t know if it’s too weird to say, but right here [in the Archives]. I love the Washington Elm. I’m very lucky to have the Washington Elm right here. Well, maybe that and also Elm Arch, too.

10. Who inspires you?

Maybe it won’t sound sincere, but I mean it sincerely that a lot of the students here inspire me. I think in terms of their motivation, curiosity, and energy to improve things.