Faces: Michael Holland

Thursday, November 11, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:09 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Michael Holland has a job that few people notice but many benefit from — working with library archives.

Holland, university archivist at MU and interim head of special collections, has worked in five archives over the past two decades.He has two bachelor’s degrees, one in physiology and one in chemistry, as well as a master’s degree in European history, all from Oklahoma State University. He pursued a doctorate in science history at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he discovered his current profession. “I decided that I was interested in archives essentially by doing research in them for class and seminar papers,” he said. “It was very inspiring to look at records and documents that had never before been examined and interpreted and being able to say something new about an established historical topic.”

Holland’s duties include preparing records for researchers and conserving materials. He also has to make decisions regarding what documents are kept in the archives, a task called appraisal.

“Appraisal is very complex,” he said. “You have to have exposure to scholars’ research and what types of records are required by administrative rules to be kept.”

Since coming to MU in 1997, Holland has taught archives and manuscript courses, handled ancient reading materials and worked to preserve electronic records. He also is vice president/president-elect of the Academy of Certified Archivists. His duties might cut into his time for reading history books and crime thrillers, he joked, but archives never produce a dull moment.

“I like working in archives because there are always a variety of tasks that need to be done,” he said. “It’s the furthest thing from a factory environment.”

— Daniel Mullen

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