Staff Perspectives

Katherine Sardino

There is something about working at the FDR Library that is addictive. There is a reason why so many of its staff members are former interns who just could not leave. I am no exception. The objects, the projects, the history, and the camaraderie of the staff keep you coming back for more.

After several years of working in museums and archaeology in the New England area, I decided to go back to school for my master’s degree (ALM) in Museums Studies. As part of the requirements for the program, I worked in the Museum Department at the FDR Library as an intern during the summer of 2005.

That summer, we began the process of inventorying the entire museum collection of over 34,000 objects. This meant photographing, measuring, and writing descriptions and condition reports for each object. We only completed a small portion of the project that summer, so I stayed on as a volunteer to continue the endeavor. I went on to become a part-time contracted Museum Technician and in March 2010 I was hired as a full-time employee.

Though the 100% inventory project was completed in the fall of 2008, a re-inventory of the collection began soon after and continues as an ongoing project. On any given day I could be answering research requests, fixing a problem with the exhibits, writing entries for the “From the Museum” section of the blog, helping develop the interactives for the new permanent exhibit, preparing museum objects to be sent out for conservation work, processing department purchase orders, planning the final move of the collection into new compact storage, or developing a descriptive audio tour for the future exhibits. With such a broad scope of duties, I enjoy being able put my hands on several different projects at once.

I had spent much of my collegiate studies learning about earlier periods of American culture, so having access to the tangible records of the last century has given me an invaluable history lesson. It is truly motivating being able to handle so many items related to the lives of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the world they influenced. There is a difference between reading about FDR’s efforts to suppress from the public the totality of his disability and feeling the actual ten pound weight of his steel leg braces. This significantly put his hardships into perspective. I gained an appreciation for each artifact realizing sometimes even the smallest trinket in the collection had something to do with shaping Roosevelt’s personality and therefore his principles as an individual and as a president.

One thought on “Staff Perspectives

  1. Maybe Ms. Sardino could tell us what motivated her to want to work at the FDR Library. Was it her admiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency and legacy, or was it just that it was a job — any job — as an archivist? Would she have been just as happy if she had been able to get work as an archivist at ANY presidential library, in fact any job as an archivist anywhere?

    She tells us nothing about why she thinks FDR was one of our greatest presidents. Maybe she doesn’t even think so. Maybe it’s just a good gig.

    For gosh sakes, it’s beginning to look as if the staffers at the FDR Presidential Library are posting their CVs so they can, with luck, get better jobs.

    I do not get from these self-involved staffers any sense of the wonder they must feel about the PRIVILEGE of working with FDR’s papers and artifacts. Do they even care about FDR? They might be just as happy doing archival work anywhere that provided them with a good salary and benefits.

    It’s no wonder they don’t “waste” any time telling us about their enormous admiration for FDR; they are too busy telling us about THEIR “magnificent” lives.

    When people go to a Broadway show or to the opera, do they go because of their high interest in the biographies of the behind-the scenes-staffers: the stagehands, the prop men, the electricians? Why do the staffers at the FDR Presidential Library think THEIR story is more important to the American public than the story of FDR’s presidency is?

    At the FDR Presidential Library, what’s important is FDR — NOT the staffers.

    This webpage is titled “In Roosevelt History”; so unless your last name is Roosevelt, could you please keep your staff biographies over at the webpage titled “Staff Perspectives”? That’s the place to post staff biographies for those who care to know about the staff.

    I would bet there is not one person who first came to the FDR Presidential Library blog because of a deep interest in the Library staffers; I would bet people were curious and wanted to learn more about FDR and even see artifacts that tell the story of FDR’s greatness as president.

    Instead they get the resumes of the staffers!

    There WAS a time when the FDR Presidential Library was led and staffed by people who admired and even loved Franklin Delano Roosevelt; I guess those days are gone.

    – – – – – – – –
    A “CV” or curriculum vitae is a written description of one’s work experience, educational background and skills. That’s pretty close to what is going on here with these staff biographies.

    But this is NOT the place to post staff resumes or CVs

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