Since we are all social distancing we have decided to have a virtual wrap up party and share some of our favorite moments and experiences from the last year.
End of the year thoughts from Shelly Black
I was excited to do my MLIS internship in Special Collections for the hands-on experience of processing a collection. Between online classes and my job, I was tired of staring at a computer screen and wanted more tangible work. For the first couple of months of the semester, I surveyed and sorted the George Chambers Papers. Then COVID-19 struck, and many of my daily activities—from my internship to grocery shopping—transitioned online. While that was unexpected, I’m reminded to be resilient and grateful for the privilege of working at home. For the latter part of this internship, I’ve researched policies and manuals and wrote lesson plans, which has been valuable.
As for archives during the pandemic, I’m inspired to see institutions documenting their communities. I’m also reminded of the importance of archives and the need to preserve born-digital stories about what’s transpiring before our eyes.
Look closely. If it wasn’t for archives, we wouldn’t have photos like this! Image of family in Dublin, CA during 1918-20 influenza pandemic via Dublin Parks Heritage Center
Thank you Lisa, the staff, and students in Special Collections for everything I’ve learned this semester! I’m disappointed I won’t be able to say goodbye in-person, but I hope we’ll cross paths again at a conference or workshop in the future.
End of the Year Thoughts from Michelle Nicole Boyer-Kelly
When I think back on this year at Special Collections, I realize that I processed several meaningful collections. As we wrap the year up amongst Covid-19 and work-from-home scenarios the future is not certain. So, I turn to the past and think: What is the first thing I think of when I think about my year at Special Collections?
Sloth poop. Yep, that is the first thing that popped into my brain. Remember that fossilized sloth poop that you found in the Paul S. Martin (MS 442) collection additions you did?! It is going to be hard to focus on anything else once you have sloth poop on the brain. In fact, I’ve spent several moments thinking …
Let’s just say the work-from-home brings up a lot of questions. How do we work from home? If the future of archives is digital, have we considered the computer screen fatigue that goes with it? And of course, I realize that interaction with my peers is really what mattered most this year because, once we were all working from home, I missed everyone terribly. So, although we process ‘alone’ a lot of the time, having others around is something that seems to be missing right now. Do not take working in peer groups for granted! Stay safe. I cannot wait to see everyone in the future.
End of the Year Thoughts by Jeremy Evrin Thompson
When I think about my time at Special Collections, I couldn’t be happier with what I’ve learned and experience. This wasn’t my first time doing archival work, but it was my first time with a lot of structure. This year as Special Collections coincided with my first year in the Library Science program at UArizona. The combination of studying archival studies and being able to apply what I’ve learned at Special Collections has been a indispensable experience.
If you were to ask me what I enjoyed most from this year, I would have to say processing the Arthur Naiman papers. This was my first project of the year and I had a lot of fun going through the collection. Naiman had an assortment of professions and was a very expressive person, so the material from the collection was vast and a joy to look over. I also feel like it was a good challenge because working with the different types of material and thinking about how to arrange them tested my abilities.
Although the end of my year at Special Collections was hampered because of the pandemic, I have really enjoyed my time at Special Collections. Not only did I enjoy the work I was doing, but I also enjoyed the cohort of students workers that I came in with. All of us were in our first year within the LIS program, so we could discuss our shared experience of being in school and working at Special Collections. This year at Special Collections has really felt like my official introduction into archival work and I am grateful for the opportunity.
End of the Year Blog by Mario Villa
This year in Special Collections has been one of both learning and unlearning. The more I tried to do the former, the more of the other occurred. My past experiences were not always helpful when it came to being an archivist apprentice. In fact, the past was mostly baggage and previous thinking clouded new learning. Frustration was a constant companion during these nine months and came to term within the confines of an apartment, which essentially became a waiting room during the pandemic turmoil.
Patience has now become our guide as the global situation has upended everything causing things to be cancelled or altered in ways that we have yet to discern. Although Special Collections was able to switch to a Work From Home paradigm, the reality is that archival processing is still largely a physical endeavor. The past few weeks were spent dealing with fatigue brought on by the staying at home and moving to a primarily digital existence.
So now as the year ends, I find myself dealing with the collection that started my journey. Though I previously joked that agrostology was as exciting as watching stolons and rhizomes spread, I now find the notion appealing so as to spend more time outside of my apartment and under the soon to be summer sun. On that note, I bid adieu with one of my favorite microphotographs from the year:
To Infinity and Beyond! By Elizabeth Wheeler
This last year working in special collections has been one of firsts for me. My first semesters in the LIS program, my first time working as a graduate assistant in the archives and the first time working primary with born-digital materials. I will be honest, I have spent more time in the last year sitting at a computer and compiling PDF’s then I ever thought I would.
I spent a lot of time traveling back and forth between working with the OSIRIS-REx team at the Drake building and working with my co-workers in Special Collections. It has been a great opportunity to learn not only the hands on skills I will need the archives field but also how to communicate with people who don’t work in archives and be a liaison between departments. I know that soft skills like these will really come in handy when I am out in the work force next year
Its also been really exciting to have been a member of the OSIRIS-REx mission team. I have processed many documents related to the mission and science plans. As well as helped research and prepare a nomenclature proposal for the features of the asteroid Bennu itself! And to think my mom said all that knowledge about ancient wildlife would only ever be good for trivia night.
While I wish the semester had ended differently and that we could all be celebrating together I am really proud of all of the work the graduate assistants and student workers alike have been able to complete during this pandemic. Knowing that we were all in this together and struggling with the same things was so helpful on days where it started to feel like too much. I am looking forward to hopefully getting to go back to Special Collections soon but for now, bring on summer!
End of Year Wrap Up by Jeff Henkel
As my first year in Special Collections comes to a close, I am left with the feeling that there is never enough time when it comes to working in an archival institution. Being a digital assistant, I have been fortunate enough to spend much of the last year of my life looking at collections of photographs and manuscripts that are as unique as the library they are housed in all while creating access to these items that was never before possible. In addition, while working with this cultural organization I have been able to serve the community not just by providing digital access to many parts of Special Collections, but by working side-by-side with them to preserve integral parts of society, locally and globally. Processing archives is another new skill I have been working on during my time at Special Collections and one that has taught me patience along with the fact that being detail oriented is always vital.
Another enjoyable piece of my year in Special Collections is a new project entitled ‘Collections as Data’ where we have the objective of turning the large corpus of newspapers into a searchable form for text analysis. This project is unique in many ways because it incorporates teaching, programming, data science, archives, and record management into a teaching methodology that will demonstrate data literacy and computational text analysis while documenting our distinctive cultural collection. I know without the staff and students of Special Collections my year would not have been nearly as encouraging or meaningful, I credit all my success to them and their patience. I look forward to further serving the public, our patrons, our University, as well as learning new digital technologies and techniques for selecting, appraising, preserving, and curating these rare and unique materials.
The Tales of Team Hooligan by Emma Luthi and Caroline Kinsley
Hello! Long time listeners, first time callers, Caroline and Emma here! You might be wondering who we are. We are the student workers, and we are typically behind the scenes, processing collections, supporting events, but not writing blogs! Unfortunately, we have been unable to contribute to this illustrious publication until now, mostly because we have been busy reenacting our Indiana Jones and Evie from the Mummy dreams.
However, you might have heard of us referred to as “The Dynamic Duo”, “The Dream Team”, “Chemma”, or “Those Two Hooligans”.
When we were asked to reflect on our time in Special Collections this year, we knew we had to reunite Team Hooligan for one last archival endeavor. Considering how much we worked together this year, all of our favorite memories include each other. But what to write about? One of our first and longest-running assignments involved reviewing collections and updating the comprehensive All Collection Spreadsheet. This task gave us the chance to wander the stacks in search of collections, which led to our “Mysterious Trunks” photo series:
(Guess which one is haunted!)
Or should we talk about our pop-up exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci? Back in November, we were given the chance to create a small exhibit celebrating the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. Since we both have a fondness for art history, we were both so excited we nearly had art attacks (buh-dum).
But our favorite assignment had to be working in the vault. The vault, which holds our oldest and most valuable books can be a little intimidating. The massive steel door looks like something out of a heist movie, it is extremely chilly, and we had to shut ourselves inside to keep the humidity and temperature constant. Despite all this, we were thrilled to spend time handling books older than the United States.
All goofy pictures aside, it’s been a great year, and we have absolutely loved the chance to work in Special Collections. We got to work with wonderful and strange collections and people, and we adored every minute of it. This semester may not have ended the way we planned, but we enjoyed it all the same.
Hang in there!