MARA Program Advisory Committee Member
State Archivist and Director, Vermont State Archives and Records Administration
MARA Program Advisory Committee Member Tanya Marshall serves as State Archivist and Director of the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration (VSARA). She is also the current president of the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), serves as a member on the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) Board, and previously worked as part of ARMA’s International Standards Development Program RIM Review Group.
The Vermont State Archives and Records Administration is a small division within the Vermont Office of the Secretary of State. The 15 employees there are responsible for administering (1) the State Records Center, (2) the State Archives, (3) the State Records Management Program (which establishes the records retention and other recordkeeping requirements for all public records in the state, including records created and received by public schools, all local government offices, and all three branches of state government), and (4) numerous statutory filings, including vital records, notary public appointments, legislative acts and resolves, administrative rules, municipal charter changes, and state oaths and appointments. Annually, the staff performs an average of 72,000 records-related transactions.
The Vermont State Archives and Records Administration’s mission statement is to “provide, protect, promote, and preserve Vermont public records, in collaboration with other public agencies, for the benefit of the public we collectively serve.” Tanya finds every aspect of her work supporting this mission rewarding. She enjoys talking with members of the public as well as public employees to understand their records and information needs and then turning those needs into a collaboration with staff to enhance and improve programs and services. Tanya also finds participating in larger efforts and programs with others in the field to be very rewarding, such as her work with NAGARA and the MARA Program at SJSU.
As one might imagine, there is no typical workday or workweek, although Tanya has weekly standing meetings, including one-on-one check-in meetings with staff members who directly reports to her. Within a “typical workday,” it would not be uncommon for Tanya do any or all of the following things: work on administrative and statistical reports; run a space analysis for VSARA’s paper storage facilities; map out a metadata schema with staff for classifying records with their systems; finalize draft reports to the Secretary of State for submission to the Legislature; address building security issues or concerns; meet with various project managers; review legislative bill drafts and formulating “talking points” for future testimony; meet with prospective applicants; collaborate with other officials on state programs and initiatives; complete a staff member’s evaluation; draft position statements; talk with town clerks not only within her own state but other states as well (through her role as NAGARA’s president); review invoices related to current service agreements and contracts; review and approve proposed record schedules; and much more!
The biggest challenge of Tanya’s work is that there are not enough hours in the day or days in the week to address all the records and information needs of Vermont citizens and public employees. Staff cuts in the last five or six years mean that government agencies, including the VSARA, have fewer employees but sometimes double the amount of work. While having to “get creative” on how she aligns staff, offers programs, and develops new services is a rewarding aspect of her work, knowing that you have to “expect the unexpected” is definitely the most challenging aspect of her work and something that Tanya deals with almost daily.
According to Tanya, the greatest thing about working in the field of records and information management is that every organization has records and information that need to be managed. She believes that if you harness your interests, the opportunities will follow. This is something that she knows from experience. In November 2003, shortly after leaving graduate school and moving to Vermont for family reasons, she was called “out of the blue” to direct a temporary project with the Vermont State Archives; it was the best unexpected call she had ever received. Since then, she has been able to put her archives and records management knowledge and skills to great use and much has been accomplished, including the creation of the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration. Tanya highly recommends keeping your options open and looking for unexpected possibilities – you never know where you might find them.
Contact information for Tanya Marshall, State Archivist
Vermont State Archives & Records Administration
1078 U.S. Route 2, Middlesex
Montpelier, VT 05633-7701