So long and thanks for all the fish!

It is hard to believe that this semester is already over! Not just that, for me this is the end of my duration here at Special Collections and also as a graduate student, since I will be graduating on the 20th! As I sit here at my cubicle that I claimed when I first arrived here at Special Collections, I think of everything that I have completed using this computer;even this final entry. I created my first digital finding aid on here using the Oxygen XML Editor, created all my blog entries, spreadsheets for my metadata and selection templates for the Udall digital collections, entered the metadata and digitized photographs into content dm for the Udall collections, and just about everything in-between. I have accomplished more than I could have ever imagined I would when first arriving here. I seriously thought that I would end up being fired because I was not qualified, but I guess I was just overwhelmed with emotions when I found out I was allowed to be a graduate assistant with amazing archivist professionals.

The entrance to where all the magic happens...

The entrance to where all the magic happens…

I think that this experience wouldn’t have been what it was thanks to my other graduate assistant colleagues George and Stephen. They were always there if I had a question or coffee breaks! We got to work as a group for the Dia De Los Muertos program we presented at as well as putting the altar together. It has been great working with those two and I am glad that I was able to work while having fun.

Stephen and George going back to our desk with our coffee's!

Stephen and George going back to our desk with our coffee’s!

I think the last thing to say for this entry is that it’s really going to be hard to leave this place. I really loved that I was able to handle material that holds so much value to the history of Arizona and the world! I have my greatest and deepest appreciation to the Udall foundation for contributing to special collections, which allows me to work here, also to Knowledge River for being the best thing that could have ever happened to me while attending library school, and also to all of the professionals and staff at the Special Collections who helped me learn and do these awesome things while being here. I will always have the best memories here at special collections and know that because of this experience I can go on in hopes of pursuing a professional archival career too!

George and I saying so long archives, see you real soon!

George and I saying so long archives, see you real soon!

“Good bye may seem forever. Farewell is like the end, but in my heart is the memory and there you will always be.” -Walt Disney


Kennedy/Udall Exhibit

Stewart and JFK during their Western trips August of 1962. AZ 372 Papers of Stewart L. Udall, Box 103, Folder 13 Special Collections, UA Libraries

Stewart and JFK during their Western trips August of 1962.
AZ 372 Papers of Stewart L. Udall, Box 103, Folder 13
Special Collections, UA Libraries

I am sorry for the delay on the announcement of the Kennedy/Udall exhibit; I have been crazy bust finishing up my last assignments before I leave this place. The exhibit is now up and ready for viewing inside our reading room here at special collections. While you’re in there, why not take a look at our other congressional exhibits that are around the Kennedy cases, there are some really awesome items on display.



The end is nigh!

My final week at Special Collections has arrived, but things haven’t calmed down yet. I, along with my two other wonderful GA colleagues, will be presenting in a showcase of our experiences in the archives to donors tomorrow. The ten-minute showcase of what we’ve accomplished will be akin to the writing of my experiences on this blog. I’ll touch upon my work with the Fred A. Riecker collection, the process involved in creating and encoding online finding aids, the digitization of photographs and creation of metadata for online exhibits. I am particularly enthused to have been exposed to the digital aspect of content management systems. Creating DACS compliant EAD finding aids on oXygen’s XML editor is something I will definitely continue to pursue experience in, along with digitizing photographs and creating Dublin Core metadata element tags on online content management systems like CONTENTdm and Omeka. Ensuring the security and provision of collections that have enduring value to a community or the general public will remain one of my fundamental objectives as I pursue a career in the cultural heritage archival field.

For my final couple of assignments at Special Collections, I was tasked with a number of different objectives. First, I was to become familiar with the processes involved in building a physical exhibit to be displayed in the Special Collections gallery. This process entails initial research on the subject in question, coupled with an exploration of pertinent objects located within the repository, finally followed by some intellectual and logical ordering of the artifacts for display and exhibit. Next month, the Special Collections will be opening an exhibit to honor Ray Bradbury’s life and work in science-fiction and beyond in conjunction with a book signing by Gloria McMillan, recent editor of Orbiting Ray Bradbury’s Mars: Biographical, Anthropological, Literary, Scientific and Other Perspectives. As a result of this exciting news (astronomy is a light hobby of mine), I delved into the Special Collection’s holdings of pulp science-fiction magazines and digests searching for material that featured Ray Bradbury.

Dating back to the 1940s, I was able to pull close to a hundred magazines or digests that featured Ray Bradbury in them. He was a prolific writer of the short story genre, but this number does not even include the vast number of books and poems he has written, either. Because Ray Bradbury touched upon almost everything in his literature, I had to really try and focus on his science fiction writing; more specifically, anything that had to do with Mars. This proved a more manageable strategy as I was continuing to gather materials for the exhibit. Finally, after having gone through the expansive amount pulp-sci-fi magazines and digests, I came away with a pretty good idea of the items that were going to be highlighted in the exhibit and those that would serve a supplementary role (some pulp sci-fi digests only featured his name as a contributing author while others dedicated their covers to the man), whilst being able to become more familiar with our collection as a whole. We also have some neat Copernican and Galilean rare books, as well as a number of unique photographic pieces of Mars’ early exploration by local astronomers that you will have to come see for yourself!

My other activity for the past month has consisted of curating metadata for the online exhibit of the de la Torre collection, a Catholic family of priests and clergy who helped bring the counter-revolutionary movement of La Cristiada, the Cristero War, to Northern Mexico as they fought for their religious liberties during the 1920s. I edited the text that had already been translated into Spanish by a previous intern and translated some section narratives into Spanish, as well. However, the technical aspect was more engaging as I became familiar with the Omeka software utilized by Special Collections to host their digital exhibits. A spreadsheet in Excel contains a table of all the metadata that has been created for the digital exhibit and arranges fields like title, subjects, description (in Spanish), description (in English), creator, date, publisher, filename, source, relation and coverage for greater organization. Importing the metadata from the spreadsheet to the digital online content management system, Omeka, requires tedious observation and constant error checking because the metadata exists in droves. Fortunately, the metadata seems to have been uploaded with no issues.

As I continue my search for jobs after graduation, I hope to be able to depend on the skills learned here at the Special Collections. I have had the wonderful opportunity to learn from the wonderful staff and am forever indebted to them for the experience they have so graciously afforded me. India, Roger, Maurita, Veronica, Bob and Erika: a big thank you! You have been great and I hope to be able to work in a professional capacity with all of you one day.

Side Projects Galore: “…the one that is the most adaptable to change”

Hello everybody, I have completed the preliminary survey for all 133 boxes of the Gabby Giffords collection that I was working on before. Since then I have been on several side projects.

I have functioned as a research assistant to Maurita, my supervisor, to pull photographic materials as per request by a local television journalist. Associate Librarian Trent and I pulled photographs of John F. Kennedy- from the Stewart K. Udall Congressional Papers that we have here at the Special Collections- for the anniversary of the President’s assassination. Some of these photos were used and subsequently appeared in a local news channel’s story about the historical ties that JFK had to Tucson, AZ. Click Here>>JFK 50 Years After Assassination feat. UA Special Collections materials

It was pretty neat to see how archives are utilized in order to reintroduce items out of history and present them again- in a new light and context. It’s amazing to think how ubiquitous archival materials are used in popular media. Unfortunately, the archives profession is taken for granted, in that the majority of folks do not have an understanding of the importance and the utility of these facilities.

Furthermore, I have been assigned to redesign a finding aid for the Records of the University of Arizona Association for Women Faculty. To my knowledge, it seems to me like someone started to process these records but subsequently seized further completion. These records contain files retained by this association that started on campus in 1982 until 2000. The UAAWF was established in order to monitor and advocate safeguarding measures for university women faculty against gender discrimination.

“Discrimination is an interesting problem, it can be conscious or unconscious. In this instance, I think what we have is unconscionable, unconscious discrimination. But (even if) it’s unintended or unconscious, it should be rectified”, said Dinham about that fact that the gender gap in salaries is unacceptable. At the time of this publication in 1983, making resolutions pertaining to male-female pay inequalities was a key issue at a growing growing number of U.S. universities.

“Discrimination is an interesting problem, it can be conscious or unconscious. In this instance, I think what we have is unconscionable, unconscious discrimination. But (even if) it’s unintended or unconscious, it should be rectified”, said Sarah Dinham of the AFW about the fact that the gender gap in salaries had become wider and more evident. At the time of this publication, in 1983, making resolutions pertaining to male-female pay inequalities was a key issue at a growing number of U.S. universities.

Along with working on the AWF project, the other GAs and myself are constructing presentations for the end of the semester, as a type of briefing for our funders, fellow students, librarians, and all involved in our development of what we have done and our experiences thus far. More to come on this!!!

p.s. in the meantime, we were featured in a University of Arizona Libraries short film by filmmaker Aeangus Anderson detailing our experiences as GAs here at the Special Collections. Take a look: