Librarian, archivist Jacque Giebel treasure-hunts through Archer history

Jacque+Giebel+looks+through+a+folder+of+historical+documents.+This+folder+is+just+one+of+many+stored+in+Archer%27s+archives.+
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Librarian, archivist Jacque Giebel treasure-hunts through Archer history

Jacque Giebel looks through a folder of historical documents. This folder is just one of many stored in Archer's archives.

Jacque Giebel looks through a folder of historical documents. This folder is just one of many stored in Archer's archives.

Photo credit: Chloe Richards

Jacque Giebel looks through a folder of historical documents. This folder is just one of many stored in Archer's archives.

Photo credit: Chloe Richards

Photo credit: Chloe Richards

Jacque Giebel looks through a folder of historical documents. This folder is just one of many stored in Archer's archives.

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During any given lunch or X-Block, almost every nook and cranny of Archer’s library is full. However, there is one space unknown to most of the Archer community. Inside this small closet lies the physical manifestation of Archer’s history: the archives.

“I’ve been able to create an archive from the ground up,” Archer’s librarian and archivist Jacque Giebel said, “which is so unique, and something I never thought I would experience. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been wonderful.”

Giebel is no stranger to archival work. She has a degree in Library and Information Science with a focus on archives, which she joked is “the longest title you could get.”

“I ended up at San Diego State Special Collections Library and Archives,” said Giebel. “It was a really beautiful, unique place. It was the first time that I was tasked with preserving part of the cultural heritage.”

After leaving school, Giebel worked as an archivist at 20th Century Fox for five years.

“[I organized] movie posters, press kits, all sorts of things,” Giebel said. “It was really special and I loved the collection. I brought it from chaos to organized beauty. But there was something, always, … drawing me to do something that would benefit the world…There was just something inside that was [saying] ‘No, there’s more here.'”

Giebel believes she found what she was looking for at Archer, where she began seeking out and organizing documents in the summer of 2017. She has found materials from Archer’s beginnings in 1995.

“Just seeing the process that our founders went through to ensure that this beautiful school survived has been really cool,” Giebel said.

After Giebel was hired to be the school’s librarian, Middle School Director Karen Pavliscak suggested that Giebel build Archer’s archive. 

“Ms. Giebel is down there, like an archeologist, digging through our past and illuminating our secrets and our successes,” said Pavliscak. “It takes a certain kind of attention to detail, patience and curiosity.”

In the journey to organize all the historical documents she discovers, Giebel says “every day is a little bit different.”

“The best way I can describe it is [that] you’re constantly on a treasure hunt,” Giebel said. “Sometimes, there will be a box that hasn’t been opened in 15 years, and it’s just been sitting on somebody’s shelf. It’s kind of been my job to open up those boxes…and decide what’s worth keeping, what somebody might come looking for, and what really tells the important historical moments of the school.”

Though Giebel “fell in love” with archival work, she also says that it can be challenging for her mental health.

“It can be really solitary work,” Giebel said. “The majority of my archiving work here at Archer has been over the summer, and there’s no students on campus in the summer…so we’re working with a really [small] staff, and I can get very much focused on the task at hand and not get up from the desk for hours.”

Giebel expressed hope that future researchers will benefit from her difficult work.

Wouldn’t it be cool, when you come back as an adult, to see your fingerprints and the history you contributed to here at Archer?”

— Karen Pavliscak

“The main goal of archives is to create them so that they can be used by whatever community [will] benefit,” Giebel said. “I just want everybody to know that we have this really unique material and that it’s accessible to all of you.”

All historical documents will soon available for use through a database Giebel created using FileMaker Pro.

“[I’m] just finding ways to make something more approachable,” Giebel said. “Access is my top thing that I’m passionate about, and just making sure that you guys are finding what you need and just knowing that all of these resources are at your fingertips.”

The database is Giebel’s way of keeping archives relevant in an increasingly digital world. She says that it’s difficult to deal with “obsolescence,” or the fact that certain images, videos, or audio clips are stored on something obsolete like a cassette or VHS tape. However, even in an ever-changing technological age, Giebel believes that archival work is more important than ever.

“It makes you connect with history in a totally different way,” Giebel said. “When you’re actually holding something from the time…something resonates inside, where you [think,] ‘This is unique and special.'”

Through this connection to Archer’s past, Giebel has identified themes that appear essential to Archer’s identity.

“Since the creation of the school, it’s been so unique,” Giebel said. “We’ve hit a lot of opposition at times with moving to this space and traffic along Sunset. And every time we hit an opposition, we always overcame. And I think that tells a lot about where we are as a school, and how challenges will never really hold us back, but it will actually make us stronger.”

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