Ringling College’s inaugural Archivist, Alexandra Vargas-Minor, is among this year’s recipients of the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation (SAHP)’s Sarasota County Heritage Awards. Alexandra is being recognized in the Historical Collections Preservation category for her achievements while founding the Ringling College Archives, located in the Brizdle-Schoenberg Special Collections Center in the Alfred R. Goldstein Library. As Ringling College’s first archivist, Alexandra laid the foundation for the Archive and actively manages the collections and makes them accessible to the Ringling College community and the public. Alexandra will be presented with the award at a luncheon at the Sarasota Garden Club on April 30, 2022.
Alexandra received her certification as a certified archivist from the Academy of Certified Archivists in 2018. When Alexandra came into the position of archivist at Ringling College in 2019, she was tasked with formalizing an unofficial collection of historic materials housed in the Library. She worked diligently to create the Archives’ mission and policies, conducted a comprehensive inventory of the collections, and organized the materials according to archival standards. Since then, she has formally arranged and described nine collections, collated six unprocessed collections, maintained a comprehensive timeline of Ringling College history, created finding aids compliant with archival standards, and made the finding aids accessible to the public on the Library catalog. She also facilitates growth of the Archives’ collections by transferring donations of materials from Campus departments, alumni, and former employees.
A major component of the Sarasota County Heritage Award is the initiative to make historic materials accessible to the public. After spending a large part of the pandemic organizing the collections to make them user friendly, Alexandra is prioritizing increasing awareness of the collections within and beyond the Ringling College community. In January 2022, Alexandra curated the first Archives exhibition which is on view in the Brizdle-Schoenberg Special Collections Center through the Spring 2022 semester. 90 Years in the Ringling College Archives commemorates Ringling College’s 90th anniversary while giving patrons a glimpse into the Archives’ holdings. The exhibition was extended into the Special Collections Reading Room for key events throughout the semester, giving attendees an opportunity to see more materials from the Archives’ holdings. Alexandra also regularly fields research inquiries and requests from researchers, Ringling students and staff, news media outlets, cultural heritage institutions, collectors, and the general public on topics related to Ringling College History.
The SAHP’s Heritage Awards recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the preservation and understanding of Sarasota County’s prehistoric, historic, and historical resources. The awards aim to raise the level of public support for efforts to preserve our common past for the education of future generations. The Historical Collections Preservation Award recognizes individuals and organizations who work to preserve, describe, and provide public access to historical collections in Sarasota County while demonstrating use of best practices in the field of archival management.