Saturday, 30 June 2012

Internship hits Mid-point

Regular readers (if there are any) will know that I am interning at the Syracuse University Archives for the summer as I end my graduate program.  I am processing two institution collections and creating EAD finding aids for uploading to the Archives website.  I am also identifying items for digitisation and conservation where appropriate.  (I feel like I know this paragraph off by heart due to the job applications and the many online class discussions I have).

So, mid-way is now here and I am fairly getting through my materials.  I have been through all of the boxed items and refoldered and reorganised according to what I believe to be a logical structure.  My supervisor and I on occasion discuss whether something belongs in one place or another such as whether items should go in Financial Materials or Administrative Materials.  Mostly, however, I am left to my own devices and good judgement as to their location, which is a lot of responsibility but also quite fun.  It is interesting to take on the role of the patron and consider for what they might be using the collection and how they would find it useful to have the information organised.  Apparently an intern before me organised a collection in terms of the materials' proximity to the creator i.e. his autobiography was first, then photographs of him, then work he had written, then letters he had sent, then letters he had received, then items he had collected etc.  I suppose that there are numerous ways to organise a collection but I am focusing on what the patrons will need and appreciate - a tad more useful I feel!

My custom-made four-flap phase boxes arrived last week and, much to my despair, they were the wrong style but, due to our time constraint (I leave the country in a few months) and the fact that they weren't useless, we have used them.  It just meant that I had to become an even bigger fan of velcro-dots and I don't think that my thumb finger prints will ever be the same again.

Ah the neatness sends shivers down my spine - some clarification as to why the volumes are not in the right order - we are grouping the volumes by height so that we know on which shelves they will fit and which ones we need to shift - this way we will make much more efficient use of space

For the past week, therefore, I have been rehousing the 200 bound volumes in their pretty new boxes and marveling over what now looks like a small boxy skyline on the central desk rather than a sea of red rot.  Now I am trying to slot all of the bound volumes into my collection structure and hoping that it will hold up.  It is mostly looking hopeful.  There are, however, many many 'account books' which need to be identified in greater detail to be of any use to future researchers...copperplate writing and arithmetic scribbles here I come.

A before and after
I am really enjoying this experience and think that it will be invaluable to my career as I progress, especially due to the freedom I am being afforded.

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