Training the Next SCA Generation

We’re back back back back back again! SCA has a new cohort of part-time staff members, graduate assistants, and interns that have started in the past few weeks, and they have all been diligently completing training and learning about Special Collections & Archives. With over a million items in the collection, three storage spaces, different websites and databases to navigate, and lots and lots and lots of policies, you may be thinking: “How in the world do they learn everything so quickly?” The answer is simple! *Cue your favorite Rocky montage music*: scaffolded, structured, scheduled training!


Many of our new staff members have never visited FSU Special Collections & Archives before they start their new position, so we introduce them to SCA through a short orientation. In this presentation, new staff members learn about the mission of SCA, what kinds of materials are collect, and what kinds of responsibilities they’ll have in their new position. We also use this as an opportunity to show them what tools we use to communicate, an introduction to SCA policies, and give an overview for the next steps in their training schedule.

Screenshot of presentation slide. Reads "Florida State University Libraries FSU Special Collections & Archives New Staff Orientation"

Virtual Independent Training

This year, we developed Virtual Independent Training to guide new staff members through all the databases and systems they have to learn. This training is built in Freedcamp and includes progressive exploration of our various communication tools (Freedcamp, Teams), exercises on how to search in databases (ArchivesSpace and Primo), and a call number tutorial.

Screenshot of Freedcamp tasks outlining the training steps for new staff members. Tasks read "5 - Archives Space. 5a - Read the ArchivesSpace Research Guide. 5b - Log in to ArchivesSpace. 5c - Do a quick search! 6 - Learn about call numbers. 6a - Watch "How to Read Library of Congress Numbers Tutorial". 6b - Complete the Kent State call numbers tutorial. 7 - FSU Library Catalog. 7a - Do a quick search! 8 - SCA-venger hunt."
Screenshot of Freedcamp task details. Task reads "5c - Do a quick search!". Task details read "Take a time to experiment with ArchivesSpace and all of the ways you can narrow down a search. Open a few records to get familiar with the information available in the finding aid. Once you feel comfortable with it, I want you to search for a very specific collection with this criteria: Repository: FSU Special Collections & Archives. Classification: CIV. Civil and Human Rights Collections. Identifier: MSS 2012-0301. Once you have searched for material with this criteria, post the link for the collection along with its title."

In-person Training and Shadowing

New staff also complete in-person training and shadowing. This training includes an in-depth tour of SCA, Strozier Library, and Pepper Library; how to pull materials for researchers in the reading rooms and instruction sessions; and how to handle Special Collections & Archives safely.

Two people sitting at a desk looking at Special Collections & Archives materials
New staff members learning to handle manuscript and photographic collections

The SCA-venger Hunt

The last part of training staff members must complete is the SCA-venger hunt. The SCA-venger hunt combines all of their new skills into one final test:

  1. They have to use the library catalog and ArchivesSpace to determine the call numbers and locations for 10 items
  2. They have to fill out item pull-slips completely
  3. They have to locate all 10 items and take a picture of it
Archives pull-slip held up against its corresponding book

Once new staff have completed their training, they’re prepared to go forth and provide excellent service to SCA’s user base. We’re so excited to have our new staff onboard and are looking forward to an excellent school year!

Published by Hannah Wiatt Davis

Hannah Wiatt Davis is the Preservation Librarian at FSU Special Collections & Archives.

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