My name is George and I am currently working at the University of Arizona Libraries’ Special Collections Library as a Knowledge River Research Graduate Assistant. Unfortunately, my stay here is relatively short due to my impending graduation set for December (rest assured, panic mode has set in), but I do hope to take the skills and lessons learned thus far at Special Collections (SC) to be able to translate them into valuable, relevant work experiences for the real archival world.
Working at the SC has been a truly exhilarating experience. Much of my graduate coursework has centered on the different type of archival institutions and issues that each face, so to be able to get first-hand experience working at a prestigious archival research institution negotiating the different aspects of the archival profession has undeniably been a rewarding emprise.
For our first assignment, each one of the GA’s was tasked with processing an unprocessed collection from beginning to end. This entailed an initial survey of the collection, which let me know it was mainly composed of manuscripts and records. I then applied some intellectual control over the collection that allowed me to form a mental picture of the series and subseries that were to make up the end-product. And finally, the arrangement and description of the actual collection into boxes and individual folders. In the end, the result was the Fred. A. Riecker Papers, MS 493, a collection of records, manuscripts, maps and photographs documenting the life of an early Tucson, Arizona pioneering family and the professional survey and civil engineering career of Fred A. Riecker.
Having the first processed collection under my belt, I can now look forward to start working on other initiatives that the wonderful staff at UASC has consigned to me, like the digitization of several past exhibits and the encoding of my finding aid into EAD (the descriptive metadata standard used by archives). My goal is to complete the encoding of the finding aid so it can be uploaded to the Libraries’ consortium and accessible for researchers and the public through Arizona Archives Online. It is these projects and learning experiences I look forward to most as I continue my search for employment in an archival setting after graduation. Thankfully, I sleep better at night knowing that Knowledge River and the University of Arizona Libraries’ Special Collections Library have afforded me an opportunity unequaled elsewhere in terms of archival exposure, instruction and practice necessary for today’s competitive archival job market.