Staff profile: Cheryl Beredo


How do you find your dream job at the Kheel Center?

Who she is: Cheryl Beredo, director of the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives

What she does: I oversee the operations of the center. We’re a staff of nine: professional archivists, staff and support staff, plus anywhere from five to 10 student assistants each term. We provide resources to researchers both on campus and off, students and faculty at Cornell and elsewhere.

I also deal with the budget and work with grant agencies and foundations to raise money for the Kheel Center, and I work with donors – folks and organizations who are interested in depositing their personal papers or their organizational archives to the Kheel Center. I talk to them about what that means and help make them comfortable with the idea of donating their papers.

Why it’s important: In a lot of instances, organizations that are historically important want to archive their materials, but they aren’t set up as archives or libraries or research centers. We offer a way to allow access to historical information about these groups in a secure and safe environment that will also stay safe in perpetuity. We want to document what’s happening in labor and employment fields and they want their materials to be available to people, so we work together to make that happen.

Where she comes from: I was born and raised in New Jersey, four hours south of here. I grew up in Voorhees, NJ, and my family now lives in Trenton.

Education: I was a Cornell undergraduate – me and half the people who work here! I graduated in 2000, as an English and women’s studies major. I have a library degree from the University of Pittsburgh, focused on archives.

I got my Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Hawaii in 2011. My dissertation was about the establishment of the U.S. colonial state’s archive in the Philippines at the beginning of the 20th century and the role it played in colonial governance. It’s really about how archives are an active organization and not just a dusty repository for old stuff.

Years at Cornell: After my four years of undergrad, and I worked in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections for a year. This time around, I came back to Cornell in early 2010.

Best part of her job: There are two parts. One is that I really like working with researchers; I love to hear what people are working on and help them find what they’re looking for in the archives. Archives are by nature a messy business, and it’s fun to work with people to dig through them.

My other favorite part is working with people to bring things into the Kheel Center. It’s hard to let go of your most important stuff and ship it off to a little town in New York, and I understand that, so I love going to their offices and meeting people and helping them start off working with us.

In her spare time: When I’m not working, I like to do all things Ithaca. From May to October, I love being outside, going to the gorges, hiking around, sitting in the sunshine and doing Ithaca things, like the book sale, the farmer’s market and the wineries. From November to April, I read books and watch movies and hibernate.

Dream job: This is my dream job! I worked a long time trying to get here, and I’m so thrilled that I have this job. When I was a student and working in RMC, I saw what curators and directors and other people did at the Library, and I thought, “Wow, I would love to do that.” Now, my job is to figure out what the Kheel Center is going to do. This is the real stuff.

In this LibeScope series, interviews with library staff reveal their skills, talents, interests and backgrounds.