Ever wonder what exciting new projects the many employees at NARA are working on? The “What are You Working On?” blog feature aims to introduce a variety of NARA employees and highlight some of the exciting projects we are working on around the agency. Check for this blog series on Wednesdays!
This week, we introduce Marla Young, an Archives Specialist at the Washington National Records Center.
What is your name and title?
Marla Young, Archives Specialist
Where is your job located?
Washington National Records Center, Suitland, MD.
What is your job in a nutshell?
I Implement 115s and keep the holdings we have current to the changing disposition authorities, and ensure transfers being sent to our holdings have the correct disposition authority. I help assist agencies with interpreting their schedules and guidance to the correct disposition of their transfers. We also assist the public on occasion. Many people call here believing we hold the records they need since we are called the Washington National Records Center. I especially like dealing with the older people, who are so grateful for any help you are able to give them. Sometimes they have been calling various places and basically getting the run around. Even though we do not have the records they are looking for, we provide them with a point of contact or specific website to help them find the information they need. Many are looking for info on family members who were killed in World War II or Vietnam and have no idea where to turn. It is very gratifying to be a small part of helping them.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on an agency’s 135s (Records Transmittal and Receipts). The agency sent in around 31 of these and the disposition authorities (DAU) do not match the box lists.
Why does this matter? Without the correct disposition authority we may be destroying valuable information or we may be trying to keep permanently information that is of no value. All of our holdings still belong to agencies. We have many working files. By that I mean many of the agencies still need to access their holdings for current work. If the box list and DAU are not correct it can be virtually impossible to find a file or box the agency requests.
Many of our Record Officers have been thrown into the positions they have along with other duties. They have so little training and are often doing the best they can at that moment. I am spending a lot of time going through their schedules to try and help them find the best fit for their records. It’s like my mother always said, “if you do it right the first time you won’t have to do it again.” We are trying to help the agencies do it right the first time. We want to stop bad habits before they start. What many people do not know is we offer a class at the WNRC that will help these agencies know the proper way to fill out a 135 which makes getting their transfers to our agency faster and also to help NARA when we do finally accession these records into our holdings. It all begins with the 135, if it is a good one with the correct disposition authority and box list than things will flow smoothly. Many people do not understand, we will hold these records for many years and will all be long retired before some of these records are moved from here. The 135 is like leaving bread crumbs to find our way back to what the agency was thinking at the time of the transfer to our facility.
How long have you been at NARA? Have you worked at any other NARA location?
Do you have a favorite day at NARA, or a favorite discovery or accomplishment?
My accomplishment would be the first time I finished a 115. It was several years old with many issues but with the help of my coworkers (who are much more experienced and are willing to help) I was able to implement the 115 and update the records at our holding.
What are your passions or interests outside of work?
I enjoy quilting, cross stitch, and reading. I find my time very limited and feel like I don’t have enough time to work on my projects. Right now I am determined to finish projects before starting a new one.
What is the last book you read, or the last book you loved?
Meet more NARA employees: http://www.archives.gov/careers/employees/