By Aaron Beatty
Not everyone knows this, but there is a well-curated library at the Austen Riggs Center that features numerous volumes related to psychodynamic thought, psychotherapy and analytically informed studies. Available as a resource for many local clinicians and mental health professionals, including the staff at Riggs, this collection contains a veritable wealth of information.
A treasure of this magnitude requires a guide and a recent opening led to a thorough search to fill the position of librarian/archivist for the Riggs library. As Jane G. Tillman, PhD , director of the Erikson Institute of the Center remarked, “After evaluating our needs we determined that hiring a person with both library management experience and archivist training would help us begin to grapple with the significant amount of archival material we have onsite.”
The search concluded with the hiring of Gregory Farr, MLIS, a multi-talented individual with a diverse background encompassing theological studies, granite sculpture (he has worked with artist, Jonathan Prince), music (he plays the guitar), library science and archival work. So, not only is Greg the right person for the job, but the depth and breadth of his experience make him an exceptional hire.
Greg is an ACA certified archivist. He hold a Masters of Library Science, Archival Science, Informational Systems from Drexel University. Additionally, he has a Masters in Theological Studies from Boston University. He was most recently employed as an archivist for the Episcopal Church of Connecticut and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford.
Greg became “very excited” when he saw the Riggs posting; his wife is working on her doctorate in clinical psychology and her advisor was a former Riggs Fellow, so he had a natural curiosity about the work done at the Center already.
“The sky is the limit” said Greg, when considering his new role. His initial concern is to make the library’s collection more accessible, migrate the dated card catalog to an online catalog and find ways to let local mental health professionals know about this wonderful resource.
When it comes to the archival material, Greg expressed an interest in developing a way to properly arrange, describe, store and display the rich history represented in the materials we have. He also mentioned that he dreams of a temperature controlled space to preserve and protect the materials.
Greg has an interest in the intrinsic value of things and the meaning behind that value. Additionally, he holds an abiding interest in history, its impact, social justice and the responsibility of institutions related to their archival materials. Riggs is fortunate to welcome Greg into our community.
Read on below for a more in-depth description of Greg’s educational and professional background.
Gregory Farr, MLIS
Greg comes to the Austen Riggs Center with professional expertise in the areas of archive management, digital preservation and the development of special collection libraries. Greg is both a member of the Society of American Archivists and a certified professional with the Academy of Certified Archivists. Greg’s educational background includes an undergraduate degree at the University of Montana in Religious Studies, a master’s degree in Theological Studies at Boston University, doctorate studies at both the University of Virginia and Boston University in the Philosophy of Religion and a MLIS degree in Archival Studies at Drexel University. At Boston University, Greg worked for five years as a teaching fellow for Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Elie Wiesel, and instructed courses in Western Religions and Islamic Studies at the Metropolitan School of Continuing Education at BU. Greg’s archival experience includes the cataloguing of Thomas Jefferson’s retirement library at Monticello and, more recently, working as the lead archivist and assistant archivist, respectfully, at the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford and the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. Greg also worked for several years in the field of Fine Arts, producing several large scale granite and metal sculptures for a local studio in Southfield, MA that continue to be displayed in recognized art locations in NYC and across the nation.