Robert Dirig was the first Fellowship recipient. He is currently the College Archivist at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Anastasia McGee, PRO-TEK Customer Outreach Administrator and Art Center graduate, spoke with Robert recently about his time at PRO-TEK.
AM: How do you apply what you learned at PRO-TEK in the job you’re doing today?
RD: When I was in the program, I spent time at PRO-TEK, CFI and CineTech. PRO-TEK was first. Rick Utley ‘s industry are still memorable. I had classes but Rick gave me first-hand real-life experiences as examples. I still use what I learned about Film Inspection. Environmental controls and their importance and how best to store different elements was also very important.
AM: When did Art Center start their Archive and why is it important to have one on campus?
RD: The School was started in the 1930s. The Archive began in 2003. Students, staff, alumni, and other researchers use the collection. We needed to have access to our own history and the preservation of it. Prior to the start of the Archive, there was no policy regarding what was saved. We have off-campus storage as well so not everything is readily available on campus.
AM: Is the collection in circulation? What kind of access do researchers have to it?
RD: It is non-circulating. We are working on increasing the digital online database so more items will be available that way. People usually phone and then come in to view what we have pulled for them. The College Marketing Department often requests photos of historic events or alumni for specific stories. We work closely with the Alumni Office on alumni requests.
AM: What will you do with the original media once you’ve digitized everything?
RD: We are mainly digitizing our photography collection and some of our film collection. We would then store everything off-site in climate controlled storage such as PRO-TEK offers.
AM: You once said in an interview that you can’t possibly save everything. How do you decide what to save?
RD: We try to make those decisions on intake of the items to the collection, prior to cataloguing. Usually, we don’t keep multiple copies of the same thing. We do try to keep as much as possible. We prioritize by themes, requests for classes, etc. We probably won’t digitize our entire collection, but we will keep it. Quite often, it’s the mundane paperwork that doesn’t get kept.
We would like to thank Robert for his time and participation in our 20th anniversary celebration.