Student Spotlight: Kelly Burton

The following is a guest post by Kelly Burton for our Student Spotlight series. The series was created to highlight the fascinating and dedicated work being carried out by students in moving image archival studies. If you’re a student who would like to be highlighted or you know someone who should be, contact us at amiaeducationcommittee@gmail.com


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Kelly Burton processing film and video at the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections Division

My name is Kelly Burton, and I am a longtime resident of Seattle, Washington (by way of Utah and Texas). I have been a film enthusiast for as long as I can remember: much of my childhood was happily spent in the audiovisual sections of libraries and in the auditoriums of art museums. This interest in movies led me to a Bachelors degree in Film Studies from the University of Utah, and on to many film production adventures in the Seattle area soon thereafter. A Bachelors degree in English at the University of Washington somehow happened in my spare time. All of these experiences culminated in my decision to pursue an archival education at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, as it seemed like the ideal way to bring all of my interests together. As a kid, I recall being very grateful to all the people that labored to keep old films around for future use, and I have recently thought it was high time I contributed to the historical record in my own right.

I am nearing the end of the second and final year of my archival studies Masters program, and am very excited to see where these scholastic experiences will take me. During my time at Western, I served as an officer in the student chapter of the Society of American Archivists. In this capacity, I helped to organize two annual on-campus archival conferences that brought in professional speakers from both the U.S. and Canada. I was also the recipient of two archives-specific academic scholarships during my time at Western, which greatly helped me to move forward with my studies. I am currently wrapping up the final project for my degree, which is an article on expedited processing procedures and patron accessibility in moving image repositories.

Western Washington University has provided me with a great foundation in archival theory and practice, and I have spent the past year applying this knowledge to film and video collections at the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections Division: first as an intern, then as a volunteer, and most recently as an employee. The exceedingly gracious folks at UW have let me try my hand at virtually every aspect of the archival process, from arranging, describing, and creating finding aids to preservation and digitization. While I have worked on dozens of collections in various capacities over the past year, the most gratifying accomplishment has been the work I performed on a collection of 50s and 60s dance films created by an instructor from the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. I was able to personally undertake almost every facet of the archival process in this case, and was even lucky enough to see digitized copies of the films used in a recent museum exhibit pertaining to former Cornish artists. Though getting my hands dirty on actual film stock has been the most fun for me thus far, I have genuinely enjoyed every piece of the puzzle that contributes to a completed collection.

Finally, AMIA was kind enough to provide me with a volunteer opportunity at the 2015 conference in Portland, and I had a wonderful time talking with colleagues, listening to presentations, looking at posters, and watching films. Perhaps I even met a few of you there!

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