This month, we interview archivist Theo Roth for our myMETRO Member Spotlight Series. Theo earned his MLIS from Pratt just this past December and currently works as Project Archivist at New York Botanical Garden.
Theo Roth earned a BA in History and Psychology from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2009 before moving to Budapest, Hungary to teach. While in Budapest, Theo earned an MA in History in 2011 and started working on digitization projects at the Open Society Archives at Central European University. He moved to New York City to pursue an MLIS at Pratt Institute, completing the program in December of 2013. He now works as a Project Archivist at the New York Botanical Garden.
When did you first join myMETRO?
I joined myMETRO in March of 2014.
Describe your work experience prior to joining the profession. What has been your most rewarding experience as a professional so far?
I worked as a teacher before moving into the archival field and got my start while working toward an MA in History. So far the most rewarding experience has been completing project work. There’s a real sense of accomplishment in seeing a project through to the end. This past summer I had the opportunity to take on a processing project at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and most recently I completed an image digitization project for the Pratt Center for Community Development. Working from start to finish on a project and coming up with a tangible end product can be very satisfying.
What drew you to your particular line of work?
I think there’s a natural connection between studying history and the library and archival worlds. Digging into the archives quickly gives you an appreciation for the level of care that goes into preserving materials for posterity and making that information readily accessible.
There have been a few key individuals who have played a role in pointing me to the archival field. I was interested in being an archivist as an undergraduate student, but it took me a few years to put myself in a position where I felt confident that I wanted to pursue this type of work as a career.
Tell us a little about the projects that capture your interests these days (either for yourself or an organization).
The diversity of projects and materials that an archivist can take on and work with are really interesting. They serve as opportunities to learn about a wide range of topics. I’ve worked on projects dealing with psychological warfare during the Cold War in eastern Europe, criminal war investigations in the aftermath of the Bosnian War, photographs and images detailing the history of a community development center in New York, and now records from the careers of two storied botanists. Getting to engage with and learn from different collections provides an insight into their value and makes the idea of working toward securing and making them accessible a genuine pleasure.
What are your favorite ways to stay on top of industry trends?
Thankfully there are a lot of ways to stay up-to-date. I subscribe to a few newsletters and listservs relative to my interests in the archives field. I also like to use Twitter to follow other professionals, organizations, and institutions in order to see who is doing what and where.
What do you find most valuable about your myMETRO membership?
So far I’ve been impressed with the range of professional programming options that are available through my myMETRO membership. Taking advantage of the opportunities made available with the membership provide a great way to connect with the larger professional community.
Nominate a myMETRO member for this spotlight! Contact Tom Nielsen, Member Services Manager, at tnielsen [at] metro [dot] org.