A former Laramie librarian was recently named the Wyoming state archivist.
Kathy Marquis has spent her career working in archives, except for a 13-year period when she was the public services librarian at Albany County Public Library.
She left Laramie for Cheyenne in 2015 to become the deputy state archivist, and she was named the state archivist earlier this month after filling the role on an interim basis since last spring.
The Wyoming State Archives collect, manage and preserve Wyoming’s public records of long-term value. These records include the activities of the government as well as non-governmental historical records.
“We function as the state’s institutional memory,” Marquis said. “We preserve the records that keep the state accountable and that ensure transparency. You can’t do that if you don’t have the records that show what decisions have been made, what steps have been taken, what people have worked on which projects.”
Marquis was first exposed to the world of archival work as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan.
“My professor took me up to the historical library to get a little introduction, and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever,” she said.
She later got a job as a page at the university’s Bentley Historical Library, which included an opportunity to sit at the reference desk on occasion. She discovered that she loved working with historical materials and helping others with their research questions.
“I knew that what I wanted to do was become a reference archivist,” she said.
Marquis worked at Harvard and MIT, joined the Minnesota Historical Society and then returned to the Bentley Historical Library as her career progressed.
“My passion has always been that moment when that researcher that you’re working with gets to see the material and realizes it’s as cool as you think it is,” she said. “I love connecting people with the material, and I love helping them figure out what would be useful for them to look at.”
Marquis moved to Laramie in 2002 with her husband, Mark Greene, when he became director of the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center. He served in that position until 2015.
“I was lucky enough to get a job at the public library and was there for over a decade,” she said.
At first, she thought her time at ACPL would be a detour from her archival work. But the work taught her about Wyoming history and culture, as well as library management. She also met and worked with librarians around the state.
“I think I’m a stronger archivist for having lived in the library world for over a decade,” she said.
In 2015, she wrote a book with American Heritage Center archivist Leslie Waggener called “Local History Reference Collections.” The book is a guide to help public libraries develop user-friendly local history collections that can better serve the needs of the public.
Over the years, Marquis has watched computers and digital technology transform her work, and she still remembers the days of flipping through the card catalog. Now she’s hoping to continue the efforts of the previous state archivist to create digital archives and to digitize historic materials.
“This is the people’s research place, and I would like to make sure that all the really interesting information — vital or fascinating — is as easy to access as we can make possible,” she said.