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Archival Aspirations and Watching the Dust Settle: Ritzhaupt ’23 at the Olive Kettering Library in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Five days a week, I walk to the Olive Kettering Library for my co-op. 

Any student living on Antioch’s campus will be familiar with the OKL – a building from the mid 1950’s, filled with shelves of books and serials, CDs and DVDs, computers, and a healthy dose of mold. The ground and basement floors are just that; an extensive collection of anything a student could ever need for research. My favorite part of the OKL, however, is the second floor.

The second floor is home to the College’s archives, Antiochiana. Dusty books, files upon files, and oddities relating to Antioch live in Antiochiana, waiting for an email or a visitor to come look at them (but never take them!). Most of it is organized, but some is scattered about the main room and the additional storage spaces boxes of papers and photos yet to be incorporated.

I worked in Antiochiana in Winter 2020, and I expected to again in Winter 2021. 

Things have a way of working out on their own. After a tumultuous hunt for a safe co-op job in Fall 2020, I was again in a situation where I was unable to travel. I told my advisor, the unparalleled Richard Kraince, that I wouldn’t mind staying at Antioch, particularly if I could once again hold my position in the archives. A few pulled strings and a call received at Dollar General later, I was informed that this would be my reality for the next three months: an archive assistant to Scott Sanders. I was elated to be up there again, breathing in the dust and handling whatever old thing Scott would give me.

Four days prior to the beginning of my co-op, I was informed that our library director was departing the college. Short-staffed and the only student worker with enough hours to fill the void, my position was hastily changed to being a library assistant. The archivist-turned-acting-director, Scott, was in a cheery mood on my first day there, though let me know he wished I (and him!) could be in the archives. I shared this wish.

I’ve worked as a library assistant at the Olive Kettering Library for six weeks now. It’s not what I expected, but I love it nonetheless. My tasks vary from day to day: sometimes I’m sitting at the circulation desk, making sure it “doesn’t float away” (according to Sandy, who I enjoy working with immensely), sometimes I’m finding and copying periodicals for the Inter Library Loans system, sometimes I’m watering plants and changing light bulbs. I shelve books and CDs, I creep around the basement, I watch the dust settle. My favorite tasks are the ones where I have the opportunity to return to my love, archival work. Sometimes I’m sent to Antiochiana on quests to find 50 year old articles from the Record, or photograph address books from an alumna c. 1890. I get to use my dear friend, the microform machine, to preserve century-old senior papers. All of my job is good, but those are the parts I really adore.

I get to hear a lot of stories in the OKL. Scott is a natural storyteller, both of history and of his own personal life, and there’s a lot of downtime at the library. I rarely leave a shift without some new facts about Antioch to bore my best friends with, or a tale to post to my co-op Instagram

The Olive Kettering Library is an intrinsic part of this campus, beyond just a home for books and the mailroom. It is a gathering place, a study hall, a venue for clubs, and much more. Even with a skeleton crew running it, nothing can stop the OKL from continuing its immense and beautiful presence, just as it has for the past seven decades. It is truly an honor to be a part of its staff.

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S. Quinn Ritzhaupt is a fourth-year student, majoring in Archival Preservations at Antioch College. A history lover since childhood, she has found her place in the College's archive, Antiochiana, and currently works at the Olive Kettering Library and as the editor of The Record. Outside of classes, she is the co-coordinator of Chess Club at Antioch, and can often be found boring her friends with stories of Antioch's past.

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