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Partnership Team Spotlight: Grant Kaestner

When you work with Advantage Archives, you get more than just a company, or a single person working with you, you get our whole Partnership Team. We believe it is important to work together to be the best possible partner. Doing so ensures that you’re getting the best of all of us, and in return, the best possible service. Whether it’s helping with your projects budget, organization, fundraising, branding, or anything else, we’ve got you covered. In order to help you get to know the team that helps you, we’re doing a Partnership Team spotlight. This weeks spotlight is on Grant Kaestner!

  • How long have you been working at Advantage Archives?

I’ve been working at Advantage for 12 years.  Advantage is where I got my start in the digitization and preservation industry.

  • What is your favorite part of working at Advantage?

My favorite part about working at Advantage is working with our great partners.  Advantage gives me the opportunity to work with people and impact communities all over the country from Alaska to Maine.  I love that the history we digitize is available for generations of families to be able to research for hundreds of years to come.  We help the history of each community come to life.

I’ve had libraries tell me stories about patrons researching their archives from Europe, India, and even Japan.  Local history collections provide a detailed story of life as it really is.  We’ve helped family members connect with biological parents, law enforcement agencies solve cold cases, and patrons research their family slave records.  The reach of a digital history archive has an amazing impact on communities.

  • What is the most interesting piece of history you have seen?
The most interesting piece of history I’ve seen was at the Optical Heritage Museum in Southbridge, Massachusetts.  We digitize their historical American Optical News publication.  American Optical was one of the largest employers in Southbridge, employing over 6,000 people.  AO created the bugeye lens used specifically for Hollywood movie production, lenses for telescopes and cameras used by NASA during the Apollo 11 Mission, and bombsights for fighter pilots in WW2.  President John F. Kennedy regularly ordered his sunglasses directly from American Optical during and prior to his presidency. In touring the Optical Heritage Museum I got to see an order sent from and signed by JFK to purchase multiple frames of sunglasses.  This particular order that I got to see was received at American Optical the very day that JFK was assassinated in Dallas.  He had sent the order in a few days prior to his trip to Dallas.  It was surreal, and in some ways spooky, to see such a piece of history signed by an amazing U.S. President that happened to arrive the very day of his passing.
  • What is something you wish all libraries and cultural institutions knew about preserving history and making it freely accessible to their communities?

History is the spread of knowledge, thoughts, and ideas.  The more we can connect people to their history, the more we connect and learn from each other.  Digital preservation gives invaluable access to future generations that a microfilm reader or a hard copy history book simply can’t offer.  Take a chance on a digital history project.  It quite literally can change peoples’ lives.


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