Staff Profile: Susanne Erb, Administrative Assistant

What do you do for the Southern Historical Collection?

As the Administrative Assistant for the Southern Historical Collection, I coordinate the day-to-day operations, which is to say I do a little bit of everything. I am usually the first person someone speaks with when they reach out to the Southern Historical Collection. I answer the phone and the mail and help potential donors or patrons figure out their next step. When materials are donated, I help with accessioning and completing paperwork to track the donations properly.

What did you do before joining the Southern Historical Collection?

Susanne Erb in front of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Susanne Erb in front of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Before joining the SHC, I lived in Charlotte and worked for a company that organized USA and Canadian participation in Food and Defense Trade Shows in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. I worked directly with the exhibitors to make sure they had everything they needed for a successful show, which included vendor order coordination, product shipping and transportation, pavilion design and construction, hotel block registration, and on-site event setup. It was exciting, but stressful work to make sure all of our participants were ready for a show.

How did you get into this line of work?

When I was a senior at North Carolina State University, I worked in the Special Collections Library part-time. I really enjoyed the work, but unfortunately when I graduated very few libraries were hiring. When I moved to Chapel Hill a little over a year ago, I was excited to see there were jobs posted in the library and thrilled to get this position.

What do you like about your job?

Susanne Erb and Thaddeus Dog in front of Wilson Library, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

I like how excited everyone is about the materials we collect. Whenever a new donation comes in people are genuinely enthusiastic to see what we received and how it will fill in the gaps in what we already have. Whenever I find an interesting photo, letter, or diary entry, there is no shortage of people to share it with who are just as interested in it as I am. It is great to work with people who share your enthusiasm.

I also like seeing the journey a document takes. I like when someone will go into the field and bring us back something that hasn’t seen the light of day for decades. Then we examine and assess it, repackage it up nicely and give it a good, safe home. It’s rewarding when a researcher will come in and use that material, or when the family that donated the material can see how well we’ve cared for it and how we’re preserving their story.

What is your favorite movie to take place almost entirely in a library?

The Breakfast Club.

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