Student Jonna Paden Pursues Archival Studies to Document Her Tribal Heritage

Community Profile

San José State University School of Information student Jonna Paden hopes becoming proficient in archives management will help her research and preserve the history of her tribe, the Acoma/Laguna Pueblo.

Paden works as an intern librarian/archivist at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After working at the center on the retail side for 12 years, she started volunteering in the center’s Library & Archives in January 2011. A year later, she was selected as one of three grant-funded interns at the center.

As the assistant to the center’s research historian, Paden’s job involves providing support for library development and collection maintenance; buying audio and book materials; processing collections using archival accessioning best practices; and preparing information and collections for Web-based use. Also, she wrote a grant application in 2012 that garnered a $1,000 award from the New Mexico Library Foundation to buy multicultural children’s and young adult books for IPCC’s library.

As a student in the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program, Paden is working on her e-portfolio and expects to graduate in May 2014. She followed the Archival Studies and Records Management career pathway to support her goal of helping develop standards and guidelines for American Indian libraries and archives.

“I want to gain knowledge that will enable me to connect and bridge American Indian material and services to Western best practices and standards in information management,” she said. “There are complexities that information professionals face in meeting the needs of indigenous people and managing indigenous knowledge.”

Paden graduated cum laude from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s in English, linguistics and Native American studies, with a focus on professional writing and Native American literature and languages.

In the MLIS program, which she began in August 2011, Paden has gained knowledge that she’s been able to apply in her work environment. “It’s given me a foundation for what I need to know, where I need to go, and what resources to look for,” she said.

Paden is a scholar with the Circle of Learning (COL) program, a grant-funded partnership between the San José State University School of Library and Information Science and the American Indian Library Association. The COL program provides scholarships and other support to American Indians and Alaska Natives in the school’s MLIS program.

As a COL scholar, she has been able to attend a number of professional conferences, including the International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries and Museums in June 2013 at which she presented a research paper titled “Information Representation of American Indian and Indigenous Cultures.” COL also partners scholars with a mentor in the information field, which Paden has found extremely helpful. Her mentor is Paulita Aguilar, curator at the University of New Mexico’s Indigenous Nations Library Program.

Paden also received the 2013 SLIS Alumni & Friends Scholarship. It’s one of a growing number of SLIS scholarships awarded each year to current students.

Another scholarship, from the Society of Southwest Archivists, enabled Paden to travel to Melbourne, Australia, for two weeks in July 2013 to study archival practices in that country. She was particularly interested in how Aboriginal records are collected and managed, and learned that archivists and librarians face the same issues no matter their location.

After completing her MLIS degree, Paden hopes to continue working at the IPCC Library & Archives. She feels fortunate to be in an area where there are a number of organizations pertaining to Native American history.

“I would like to work with my own Pueblo archives,” she said. “I would love to produce research and nonfiction. There are few nonfiction Pueblo authors. I’m also really interested in genealogy, and I would like to help produce a history of my people, a history written from our perspective, a history about and for my people. I would like to collect and bring documents that tell about our history back to us.”

Influential Instructors

“Dr. Robert Boyd, one of my very first professors in INFO 200 Information and Society. He encouraged me on the research paper I wrote for his class and it set a good foundation for me to have a professor like that who encouraged me at the onset of the program. That’s especially important in an online environment. I appreciate his help and accessibility.”

Career Tip

“Go to conferences, join professional associations, to network. Meet people, talk to people. I think networking is very important.”

Professional Affiliations

American Indian Library Association (AILA); Mountain Plains Library Association (MPLA); Society of American Archivists (SAA); Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists (SRMA); Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA); Society of California Archivists (SCA); American Library Association (ALA); New Mexico Library Association (NMLA) and its Native American Libraries Special Interest Group (NALSIG); International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Special Interest Group Indigenous Matters.

Best Conferences

International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries and Museums; NMLA; ALA.