Amy Schindler: Archiving Roadside Attractions

Photo Courtesy of
Photo Courtesy of

Kelcey Schmitz

Taking a selfie with the world’s largest ball of stamps in Boys Town was necessary for Amy Schindler when she moved to Omaha.

Schindler, the director of archives and special collections at the UNO Criss Library, said visiting “cheesy” local or roadside attractions is one of her favorite activities. When she lived in Virginia, Schindler said, visiting a local attraction containing 18-foot white plaster busts of the presidents was a favorite activity. She said taking family or friends to these attractions is always fun, and she makes sure they enjoy the experience and learn something.

At work, Schindler is usually in a suit but keeps the work environment energetic and fun, Lori Schwartz said. Schwartz, a member of Schindler’s staff who is in charge of the U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel Archives, said Schindler talks to people at UNO and in the community, and enjoys connecting them with the resources provided by the archival services.

Schindler sat and smiled, while taking time to explain her work while on a break between meetings. Schindler, who has worked at UNO for two years, said she received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and her master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Schindler became interested in being an archivist, she said, when she had to use archival resources for a history class as an undergraduate student. Since she was young, Schindler said, she was interested in history but did not know what career to choose. She went through about 10 majors in college, she said, before becoming an archivist.

The archival department collects, preserves and makes available primary sources that have an “enduring historical value,” Schindler said. Making the pieces available to the public, she said, is the best part of her job. On campus, she works with faculty members to incorporate archival documents into assignments for classes, she said. Also, the public, she said, can look up information if they are a history enthusiast or if local businesses want to find previous materials, such as the YMCA.

Schindler is changing the archival department, Ali Reil said. Reil, a sophomore student worker, said Schindler is promoting the archives by incorporating social media sites, such as Twitter. Schindler is fun to work with in the archives, Reil said, because she’s often happy and energetic, making the sometimes tedious job of uploading paper documents to the internet interesting.

Schindler said she tries not to take herself too seriously and tries to keep a positive attitude throughout the day. However, she is serious about preserving archival documents. She said sometimes students do not realize how important their work on campus is. Students may not think anyone will care about their work, but she promises someone will.

Just like she cares about “cheesy” roadside attractions.