MARA Student Mark Driskill Serves as Research Assistant on Global Study of Digital Records

Community Profile

During student Mark Driskill’s third and final year in the Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) program, he will serve as a research assistant on a grant-funded study regarding the issue of trust in a digital and networked society.

Driskill will help Dr. Patricia Franks, an associate professor at the San José State University School of Library and Information Science, with her research. Franks is part of an international team of scholars that received a $2.5 million grant award earlier this year from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 

The study’s focus on trust in digital records from a social science viewpoint is also one of Driskill’s main interests, he said, and factored into his decision to apply for the research assistant position. “I want to develop software programs that will bring together different forms of records into one package that people can trust,” he said. “So this research fits into my overall goal of how I want my career to play out.”

Driskill is also interested in helping with the project because it is funded by a Canadian agency and involves an international research team.  “I spent most of my childhood in Canada,” he said, “and I’m interested in how people run archives outside the U.S., in particular, Canada and Australia.”

As fall 2013 courses get underway, Driskill will be starting his work on the research project, which will entail compiling annotated bibliographies.  He may also help Franks analyze survey results.

Driskill, who earned a bachelor’s degree in history at SJSU, said his original plan was to earn a master’s in history and a teaching certificate. But a public history class he took during the senior year of his undergraduate program proved pivotal.

“It changed my direction because I discovered archives,” he said. “There was a brochure available on campus about the MARA program, and it was actually that brochure that brought me to this program.”

Driskill’s desire for a career that drew on his experience with computers was the “tipping point” that made him decide to earn a MARA degree. The other component was the flexibility of the graduate program’s fully online delivery model.

“Online collaboration is an important part of the MARA program,” he said. “With emergent Web 2.0 technologies, being able to negotiate the online environment is important.”

He’s also interested in learning about records management, as well as archives, in the MARA program. MARA students study “how the record moves through the continuum from active to inactive to archival states,” he said. 

After he graduates in May 2014, Driskill hopes to find a job as either a digital records manager or digital archivist. Passionate about both history and environmental concerns, Driskill said he’d like to work either in a university archives, where he could use his knowledge of history, or in a corporate setting, where he could teach people how to use less paper and manage electronic records.

Related Content

Franks’ blog post about the study, published on the SJSU SLIS Center for Information Research and Innovation (CIRI) blog.

Influential Courses

“It’s hard to pick out one class because they’ve all been a piece of the puzzle. My archiving course with Lecturer Lori Lindberg (MARA 256: Archives and Manuscripts) was rewarding because it’s based on physical archiving, not digital archiving. Because of my background in history, I’m really interested in the actual archiving aspect.”

“I had a class my first year that was about records management and how to make a retention schedule (MARA 211: Records Access, Storage and Retrieval).  The class covered how to do legal research and how long organizations should keep records. That was an inspiring class as well.”

Professional Affiliations

Society of American Archivists, American Historical Association

Favorite Websites

National Archives & Records Administration; Library of Congress