Remembering Brenda Banks

brendabanks

Brenda S. Banks, 1949-2016. We all miss you.

It’s taken a bit of time to process, and I am still somewhat at a loss for words. Last week, on July 25, the archives community lost a phenomenal archivist, teacher, and advocate. For me, I also lost a friend. David Carmicheal and Kathleen Roe wrote a wonderful tribute to her on the SAA’s website: http://www2.archivists.org/news/2016/saa-remembers-brenda-s-banks#.V6JHGI6MEvg

I owe my path as an archivist directly to Brenda. I was in the process of earning my undergraduate in history, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after I graduated. Archives seemed intriguing, but I didn’t know if I would like the day-to-day work. On a whim I called the Georgia Archives (in 1992), and ended up being transferred to Brenda. She said that while there was no formal volunteer program, if I wanted to work for free, she would find something for me to do. (That still makes me laugh.)

So I came in one day a week and shadowed various staff members to see what all was involved. The next summer I was hired part-time, and generally worked between the reference and the conservation lab. I was able to work at the Archives while I was earning my MLIS at Clark Atlanta. Eventually I was hired full-time, and then worked my way up to Senior Reference Archivist, and finally to Public Programs Coordinator after the move to the city of Morrow in the new facility.

Even though I left the Georgia Archives to focus on my girls, Brenda and I would talk on the phone and have occasional lunches to catch up on news. I always looked forward to the Society of American Archivists annual conference, because I knew I would see her there. Even though she had many obligations–things to do, people to see–she always made a little time to visit with me at the meeting. Today, at the SAA meeting, I almost kept expecting to see her come around a corner.

I am forever grateful to Brenda for setting me on this path, for all the encouragement all the way, and for her friendship.

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