In the base­ment of Snell Library, new uni­ver­sity archivist and head of spe­cial col­lec­tions Gior­dana Mecagni is set­tling in among thou­sands of papers, photos, and films that doc­u­ment the past of both North­eastern and the city of Boston.

Mecagni started working at North­eastern about three months ago and is excited to grow the Uni­ver­sity Archives and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions (within the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Libraries), which col­lects, pre­serves, and describes a vast array of his­tor­ical documents.

She comes to North­eastern after working at Har­vard University’s Archives and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions for 11 years.

There is so much to do,” Mecagni said. “There is still quite a lot of mate­rial to col­lect, and we are actively collecting.”

The exten­sive col­lec­tions include cor­re­spon­dence from former uni­ver­sity pres­i­dents, 1,667 reels of film from ath­letic events, and scrap­books from camps at the YMCA where North­eastern was founded as a night school in 1898.

Pieces are avail­able to stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff for research. The archives boast both online col­lec­tions and phys­ical mate­rials housed in two secure stacks at Snell Library. The second area was recently built, and Mecagni said it is her job to fill it.

In addi­tion to North­eastern his­tory, the archives’ col­lec­tions house a broad col­lec­tion of Boston’s social jus­tice his­tory, including the his­tory of the city’s African-​​American, Asian, Latino, and LBGTQ com­mu­ni­ties. Mecagni said the library would soon embark on a project to accu­mu­late pieces related to the rela­tion­ship between built envi­ron­ments and nat­ural envi­ron­ments throughout Boston’s history.

One of Mecagni’s roles as an archivist is to make people and groups com­fort­able with con­tributing some­thing to her department.

We need to spend a lot of time con­vincing people we will keep it, take care of it, and pre­serve it,” Mecagni explained. “Once it is here, people are so proud and that is really a great thing. It gives it some stature.”

As the world con­tinues to evolve in the dig­ital age, Mecagni said the archives will soon follow suit. The infra­struc­ture is set for the library’s new dig­ital repos­i­tory to col­lect pieces elec­tron­i­cally on a grander scale, some­thing that was not avail­able to pre­vious archivists.

To get familiar with his­tory between North­eastern and the sur­rounding com­mu­nity, Mecagni has embarked on a lis­tening tour in which she has met with var­ious cul­tural orga­ni­za­tions. She has also met with fac­ulty to learn how pieces from the archives are being used in classrooms.

Mecagni said her goal is to incor­po­rate the archives across all facets of Northeastern’s campus.

I think the archives could be used in every aspect,” she said. “There are data sets that should be in the archives and avail­able for research. For the arts, there are posters from past North­eastern activ­i­ties. It’s just a matter of knowing it’s here.”