UCF’s History is in Her Hands

Alumna Mary Rubin ’12 preserves more than 1,050 boxes of UCF history in her role as UCF Libraries’ senior archivist.

By Jenna Marina Lee

ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 3, 2017) – She has not yet reached her 30th birthday. She has tattoos of a tortoise and a hippopotamus on her biceps. And while she does work in a library, she doesn’t get to read all day, although she wishes she did.

Meet the keeper of UCF’s past: alumna and senior archivist Mary Rubin ’12.

“Libraries and archives is something I feel very strong about, especially for this school,” Rubin said. “It’s grown so much and to see that history, to be able to preserve it, will help future generations.”

Rubin explains the duties of her job as collecting, preserving and making historical records available.

She always loved libraries and reading as a hobby, but she never considered a profession in the field. In her final year as an undergraduate interdisciplinary studies student at UCF, she got an IT job in the library. In addition to helping students, she troubleshot problems for staff, and as a result, got a pretty good grasp of the library’s organizational chart.

The archivist at the time hired Rubin for her coding skills and tasked her with fixing the digital inventories for the collections.

UCF Marketing then hired Rubin temporarily ahead of UCF’s 50th anniversary in 2013. Rubin was given a 68-page timeline of events with the directive to verify as many as she could. She spent the next six months alone sifting through boxes of materials and turned the 68-page document in a 200-page timeline with citations.

She kept her wits intact by listening to “a lot of Pandora” and brought in a heating lamp when sweaters weren’t enough to keep her warm all day in the cold room.

“My passion started with UCF so that really helped, learning all about it. My love for archives came once I finally started working in it,” she said.

She eventually took over the archivist position in 2013 and has since earned her master’s degree in library and information science from USF. Her first priority every day when she walks into her office is to answer requests for archived materials, which usually involves photographs. After requests are handled, she works on processing her logs of new and old materials to add to the archive collection.

As of June 30, 2017, University Archives possesses more than 1050 boxes of records, which includes administrative files, multimedia materials, photographs, publications and memorabilia.

Among the collection includes a tiara from the 2010 Miss UCF. There’s a football signed by Daunte Culpepper. And the groundbreaking shovel from 1967. It’s the same shovel that was used ceremoniously at the groundbreaking of UCF’s College of Medicine in 2007 and the Downtown Campus in May 2017.

They have a full set of Spirit Splash ducks dating back to 2002. The archive’s collection was missing the 2003 and 2005 ducks until Rubin did a social media campaign last year around Homecoming. A generous Knight offered up her own personal ducks to fill the gaps once she learned they were missing.

But Rubin’s favorite item in the archives is a set of meeting minutes from 1969. It took place less than a year after UCF had opened for classes, but the Board of Regents were already discussing a name change for Florida Technological University.

“It’s my favorite item because they were thinking about changing the name to University of Florida at Orlando,” she said. “Our abbreviation would have been UFO.”

Every day, Rubin can see past the words on a paper or the images on black and white photographs. The records tell her a story.

“You can see the genius behind some of these things,” she said. “It’s the heart of the people. The heart of the organization. It shows the culture. UCF’s impact on the community is amazing.”

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