This is the first blog since Spring Break let up. For my own personal edification, I took it upon myself to tour with a couple repositories in northeastern Arizona and New Mexico over the break- the Navajo Nation Museum and the Institute for American Indian Arts, respectively. I was lucky enough to correspond with helpful archivists and curators who were willing to give an up-and-coming student of archival science a tour of their facilities and a talk on their collections management systems.
It was a very enlightening experience which illuminated upon the fact that a lot of archival and museum practices are, indeed, variable. As students, we seldom get to experience real-world applications by professionals of the theory that we study so intensely. The detached format of didactic teaching can be all too insubstantial if not given some real-world context. That being said, the tour was much like working here at Special Collections where it is a real treat to have professionals share their experience and expertise with students.
Aside from my Spring Break adventures, returning to Special Collections feels like I’ve hit the ground running. Perhaps I’ve enjoyed my time off too much? There are a few projects that are keeping me an assiduous archivist. Aside from responding to reference questions from patronizing researchers, I have succumb to experience new areas of duty in this sweet gig at the Special Collections 🙂
First of which, I have been tasked with digitizing 50 photographs from the UA Photographic Collection so that they can be incorporated into the online digital collection of the same name. Initially I was to familiarize myself with both the collection and the online digital collection. By doing so, I could identify and bolster themes that comprised the digital collection and at the same time cultivate other themes that were not present. Essentially this project consists of creating a selection criteria for the types of photographs that I would be digitizing, scanning and editing them, and then subsequently write the corresponding descriptive metadata for them. It has been a really fun experience.
Furthermore, there is another digitization project along the same lines that has been assigned to both Alexa and I. As it is very similar to the independent project I am working on, we are tasked with selecting and digitizing 25 photographs. The selection criteria this time will pertain to the prowess and merit of the University of Arizona. On top of the 50 photographs I have been working on, this would put a total of 75 digitized photographs under my belt- that’s awesome!!!
I cannot say enough how great an opportunity it is to be able to come back and work at the Special Collections. The staff members here are definitely great resources; during my time here I hope I will get to work with all of them in some capacity.
On another note, there is another thing worth mentioning. For a long time now, I have been requesting to sit-in during a donor visit and I finally had the opportunity to shadow the Special Collections Borderlands Curator during a meeting. It really was interesting to observe how a good rapport can be established and maintained- I suspect such a relationship is a testament of how well one’s interpersonal skills are formed. Special Collections does, indeed, have a first rate donor relations specialist. Everybody I work with here is first rate, without a doubt.