Recently in Archives Category

Cracking the Lock on Open Access Collections

openaccess.jpgIt's no secret that accessibility is a big part of what we do here at GSLIS. Within libraries, museums, archives, and information institutions - many of us act as the tether between information and patrons.

In recent months, a handful of influential institutions across the globe have begun jumping on the Open Access bandwagon - a movement which the Public Library of Science defines as "unrestricted access and unrestricted reuse." A burgeoning topic on the horizon of information science, we as GSLIS students can acquaint ourselves with Open Access collections and create OA projects of our own.

While a number of considerations lay between institutions and the creation of online open access collections, they reveal new opportunities for research, engagement, and scholarship. Once an institution has determined which objects or collections qualify, they start working forward from there to reconfigure the terms applied to the pieces within their OA initiative. For an example of these terms, browse through the specifications stated within the Getty Open Content Program.

While many factors go into the creation of OA collections, we as GSLIS students can begin thinking about how Open Access fits into our ideas as future archivists, librarians, and informations scientists. As an archives concentrator interested in digital collections, open access, and the curation of digital objects, I compiled select objects, news, and resources into a visually charged blog focused around open access collections - just an example of the variety of projects you can get started on today. To see if Open Access collections are an area you would like to explore further - create, connect, and browse through the following resources.

OpenGLAM: "OpenGLAM is an initiative run by the Open Knowledge Foundation that promotes free and open access to digital cultural heritage held by Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums."

Open Glam: Resources

Archives | Libraries | leave a comment

Professionalization of the Archival Field

One of the things that struck me only after I'd started the archives program at Simmons was how incredibly diverse the field of archives really is.  I knew that there were small historical societies staffed with volunteers with little or no formal training, but until I actually began to take classes in archives I had never realized how much there was to study, and how important that information was for preserving the items in the archive to begin with.  My LIS438 and 440 classes were peppered with stories like the one about the (untrained) archivist who cut photographs into pieces to file each person in the photo under their name in the files: many collections of letters which were broken up in order to be filed under subjects, rather than by provenance; all the letters from all the collections mixed together forevermore; collections where diaries, of all things, were cut up so that individual "important" entries could be saved and the rest thrown away (this was thought the be an extremely efficient use of space).

One thing that has been drilled into us again and again is the idea that there isn't one right way to be an archivist, but there are a lot of wrong ways to be one.  Without a grounding in archival theory and practice, though, we wouldn't be able to make the distinction, which is what leads to the horror stories happening in archives in the first place. 

While we've never talked explicitly about the professionalization of the archives field in class, it is the unspoken truth of why we're all learning the theory in the first place: because without a grounding in "archival principles" we would be working in archives and making the same mistakes.  We would be the horror stories.  That's the most important reason given for professionalization - to enforce the uniformity of ideas and standardization of procedures across archival institutions.  This is especially necessary for archives because so many changes have been introduced to the field in the past few decades - and archival work is not a field that changes very quickly at all.  MPLP as an idea is almost a decade old, and it is still sort of percolating through the archives world, and that tiny historical societies have probably not even heard of it, much less joined the debate about it.  Beginning with a degree and continuing with the accoutrements of a professional field: conferences, scholarly journals and the like, ideas can be embraced across the different type of archives, debated fully, and contribute to the archival field as a cohesive whole, as even people from different sorts of archives - academic and corporate, government or nonprofit - can discuss the same issues with the same language and same tools at their disposal. 

Besides the obvious advantage of standardization of the field, professionalization gives the field more respect, and possibly higher wages, and a widely-accepted ethical code across the profession. 

There are, of course, drawbacks to professionalization.  Cost is an issue - some archives, especially tiny historical societies, don't have the money to pay for professional archivists, so professionalization actually would tend to put those institutions in the position of needing to make tough choices about funding.  Still, on the whole, professionalization is a good thing.  As libraries have shown, creating barriers to a field pays off, though it may be quite a while until the archival field sees the fruits of that labor.

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I might sound like your mother, but...


I am old enough to be your mother, so it's okay.

I know you are so busy that the thought of giving your time away might seem near impossible.  Like many of you, I have a job, a home, a family, and of course, school. We are all in different stages of our lives, and so some of us have a cat, others a spouse.  Many of us have kids - ranging from the tiny squirming variety to adult children, and everything in between.  We rent apartments, live with our parents and own homes.  We commute minutes and hours, and we are so tired and busy.  I know what you are thinking. "I don't have time to volunteer."

I got my first library job in recent years by volunteering at the library first, and then working my way up as positions became available. I volunteered in a prison library and found my passion to be a correctional librarian.  But I am revisiting this topic (I have mentioned it in previous blogs...) because Tuesday night, I ran into a young man who had, several months ago, asked me about library school.  He is 24, about the same age as many of you, and he had worked a little in his college library, was living at home with his parents, and struggling with what to do.  My advice to him was "Try out some libraries by volunteering in them.  It makes for good resume lines and it gives you a risk-free opportunity to see what you like.  And it might even land you a great job."

So, he did.  First, he volunteered with me at the public library.  Then he moved on to the archive of a local college.  He really liked the college, he told me, and so when a very part-time (4 hours a week!) position came open, he applied and got the job.  They knew him, liked his work, and he knew he wanted to work there.  A short time later, a sudden staff departure opened up a night circulation position for 20 hours a week, and he got that job.  Now he is getting great experience and saving for library school. Win, win.

So, even if you don't listen to your own mother, consider listening to this mother. Try a library on for size and find your passion.

Archives | Libraries | People | leave a comment

Preserving Morris Dancing

For the last two months I have been enmeshed in a collection about Morris Dancing. Until two months ago, I did not know such a thing existed. So imagine my great surprise Friday night when I ran into multiple Morris Dancer groups performing on the Common in conjunction with Shakespeare on the Common!

I wasn't even supposed to be there at that time but had absentmindedly gotten off at the wrong T stop and ran into the very people my collection documented! As I stood watching, a woman came up to me and said, "Has anyone told you what this is yet?" She seemed used to having to explain it to passersby. "It's Morris Dancing!" I said excitedly and she looked at me as if I were the one jumping in the common with bells tied to my shins. Yes! I do know what it is!

This led me to a wonderful opportunity to not only talk with her about Morris Dancing and how she came to be involved with it but also about how I know what it is and explain what an archivist does. I also got to invite them all to the exhibit at the Cambridge Public Library I had just finished setting up!  The Boston area has so many fun cultural things to see and do and it's so cool to be involved in the documentation and preservation of their history!

Archives | Boston | People | leave a comment

Learning Outside the Classroom

This summer has been hot, rainy, and is going by fast.  And did I mention busy?  Yeah, it's been busy.  This summer, as I've mentioned in a few previous blog posts, I'm doing a records management internship for Biogen Idec, a biopharmaceutical company located in Kendall Square in Cambridge.  And I can already say, just because I'm not taking official classes this summer does not mean the learning has stopped...

I find myself every now and again marveling at how I ended up here.  When I initially applied to library school, I never thought I would have the opportunity to work in a place like Biogen.  It's one of the aspects that we don't cover too much on the archives track -archives includes records management, and records management isn't just for city planning or traditional libraries.  Corporations (especially since the Enron debacle) have been tightening the leash on records management.  And in this case, more regulations just so happens to equal more jobs. 

Two of my lovely new co-workers are actually Simmons alumni, which not only make conversations fun (did you take Candy's course?!), but also gives my co-workers a sense of the angle I am approaching records management as a whole from.  I do think a lot has changed, however; one of my co-workers mentioned that when she did a presentation on being interested in industry, the general consensus was that she was "selling out." 

To be honest, "selling out" was something I grappled with when I started.  I was in library school for the science of it all, not to make obscene amounts of money and be working for "the man."  But after I got a few paychecks, and once I had gotten past the preliminary "here's your login, here's your password, here's your email, read these best practice guidelines" and actually started working with the material, I realized that working for industry - at least in my limited experience - is just as valid as working anywhere else.  My particular industry is highly regulated, as audits can occur at any time from the FDA.  Making sure our records are kept just as detailed and accurate as they need to be ensures that in the case of an FDA (or MHRA in the UK) inspection, the particular drug being inspected will continue to pass and can stay on the market - which, in Biogen's case, ensures that millions of Multiple Sclerosis sufferers can continue to receive their medication. 

I am only about halfway through my internship, and am sure I will have different or stronger opinions when all is said and done.  However, what I can say, is that I am glad this opportunity was presented to me to learn about all of the other applications of this degree outside from the traditional library - and I will definitely take advantage of that knowledge. 

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Designing the Ultimate Exhibit


It's the age old do you design an exhibit on a budget that appeals to both adults and children while educating them about a subject?

Well I'm having my first go at answering it. At my current internship at the Cambridge History Room in the Cambridge Public Library, I am taking the materials and knowledge I have gathered from my processing of the John Langstaff collection and trying to turn it into something that will interest and engage the public. The biggest issue is that most of Langstaff's collection is paperwork (largely unreadable paperwork I might add) and his greatest contribution to the area is in theater and music, both things that are difficult to showcase in the middle of a library on a budget.

But considering that I did a conference presentation on integrating archives in museums via technology, I am not ready to give up yet. I have been able to create QR codes to link to some wonderful video clips of Langstaff and his performances. However, not everyone has a smart phone and unless you have headphones....some patrons might become annoyed that I have linked to music...

There were some small portions of the longer videos I thought were exemplary instances of Langstaff's enthusiastic performances, but realized that the patrons would probably not want to watch the entire nine minute clip for 2 seconds. I decided to try making gifs of these few seconds since it was the movements rather than the audio that was important. I had never made gifs before and I think I was successful for my first attempt but now I wonder if it is worth linking to a 2 second clip.

I'm also trying to see how I can engage children. Langstaff wrote a wonderful selection of children's books and one in particular has lovely woodcuts that would make for good coloring pages but I am not sure the copyright ethics of copying those pages to provide for the children. And...would it just be a waste of paper?

In my utopian vision I would want to do a whole Christmas in July event since most of Langstaff's materials are associated with Christmas and the Winter Solstice but that does not fit into the time or money constraints of this internship. So, I must work with what I've got, but it is quite a lot of material. I hope I can find a creative way to use it. Perhaps I will follow Langstaff's instructions from the collection and make my own shin pads of bells to wear as a Morris dancer. 

Archives | Internships | leave a comment

Finding Archiving Principles at PAX

With a computer programmer/gamer boyfriend there was no way I was going to forget that PAX East, one of the country's biggest video game conventions, was this weekend. Not being a gamer myself, I steered clear of making it a four day event complete with the Pokemon pub crawl (gotta drink them all!) like he did. I did, however, tag along Sunday out of curiosity. (And I would have you know that I beat, nay, alienated three men in Ticket to Ride) Upon seeing there was a panel on the preservation of video games, I also dragged the aforesaid three men along. I was greatly amused to listen for two hours to five panelists discuss the job of an archivist without ever saying the term.

The panel was sponsored by The American Classic Arcade Museum (ACAM), a non-profit organization in NH that strives to preserve pre-1980s arcade games. Also present was a researcher trying to track down the original names of some of the early game designers, a professor of game design, and a gentleman that ran a webshow about retro games. Despite their different positions, they were all brought together on the panel to basically discuss one major impediment to preserving the actual games or studying the past of gaming...the lack of records. The researcher told stories of companies who didn't know what games they had produced in the distant past and had to rebuild the history of their company via outside sources like game reviews. One of the ACAM directors told of other companies who didn't even know what games they held the rights to because mergers with other companies had brought in undocumented inventories. And it isn't just the issue of paper records being lost, but it also effects the games themselves. Without the documentation of the coding behind the games, many are lost forever. Or, without the proper migration of data to new formats, the games may work but can no longer be played because the equipment no longer exists.

The professor must have recognized the glazed-over look in the eyes of some audience members because at one point he jumped in and remarked, "I don't think we've done a good of explaining why it is so important to save this stuff." He went on to explain that as a professor he felt it was important for his students to see the legacy the present gaming culture had come from and to learn from the mistakes and triumphs of the past. Although these gentlemen were only concerned about the world of video games, their struggles and reasons regarding preservation are universal. The job of the researcher would be a lot easier if these companies had archivists or records managers. Although some larger companies do, it is still not the norm and it's interesting, yet sad, to see the consequences. It was also interesting to see how many gamers were unwittingly introduced to archival principles during a panel at PAX.

Archives | Boston | Conferences | Events | leave a comment

Archives and Popular Media

GandalfMy friend was watching an episode of White Collar the other night. I don’t follow the show so I was only half listening until I heard, “We are going to have to go check out the archives.”

A meme/blog post has been going around recently about movies with library scenes in them and it set me to thinking about how archives are portrayed in popular media. For a lot of people, that’s how they see us, that’s their only interaction with an archives.

If that is the case, we don’t look too good. This particular scene in White Collar had the archivist come out, show them into a room full of card catalogs drawers and filing cabinets, and leave them there. When one of the characters asked, “Wait, which cabinet is 1940?” the archivist called over her shoulder as she walked out, “All of them.”

Now of course this is not true to life (hopefully!) especially since scenes in the archives are usually framed as a race against time, a scene that creates dramatic tension as the characters try to find that one document (which generally has a code or treasure map on it) that will help them in their quest.

Even so I couldn’t help but get annoyed that the fictional archivist not only did not give the pair a finding aid or some sort of index but she was openly rude to the couple. She didn’t need to be, she had no spot in the good vs. evil battle which the plot rested on.  And so the characters sat there, throwing pieces of paper around getting them all out of order etc. until one finally found the right piece of paper, yelled “aha!” and they ran away leaving the mess behind them (No wonder the archivist is so rude).

Now I have to say my favorite archives scene in film is Gandalf researching the One Ring in Fellowship of the Ring.  Mostly because it makes me happy that even the great Wizards who have lived so long must resort to archival research! But if you watch it again….he is eating and drinking in the archives! What?!?

Oh well, its Gandalf…I’ll forgive him…

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A Blend of History and Archives

As a dual degree student in Archives and History, I have one foot in the LIS (Library and Information Science) world and one in the CAS (College of Arts and Sciences) at Simmons. At times it can be a little frustrating since I’m dealing with two different departments but a lot of the time there is more overlap then I would have imagined.

Currently, I am taking a Public History course. I have never taken one before and I love it. I almost wonder why I never thought of Public History as a career choice before. I have a Bachelor’s in both English and History and saw Archives as the wonderful combination of the two, but as I continue through this dual degree program, Public History seems the perfect combination of Library Science and History to me.

We are currently reading Museums, Monuments and National Parks by Denise D. Meringolo about the evolution of Public History in America. One of the key points of the book, pointed out from the very beginning in the prologue, is that the Park Service of the 1930s was looking for “a new kind of technician.” It was hard to find the perfect person to work in the Park Service said Verne Chatelain, the head historian, because “some were good in the books, but they couldn’t deal with the public.” They were lacking those public interaction skills that one acquires working in a library or archives!

In a way, an archivist is a type of public historian, guiding patrons in their historical education by helping them find the resources they need.

Another thing that is great about the dual degree and this class in particular, is that it allows me to be on the receiving end of the archives. On Wednesday, I am going into the state archives to do research regarding legal trials in colonial Plymouth for a class project. Each student in the class has to complete a public history project that actually has a public history component i.e. it can’t be theoretical. I am working with the 1748 Courthouse and Museum in Plymouth and when I’m finished with the research I actually have to give a public lecture there on my findings. Terrifying and exciting!

Which reminds me, I have to go write a conference paper for the 2nd Annual Simmons Graduate Symposium…Life is busy, busy but oh so fun!

Archives | Boston | Classes | Dual Degree Programs | leave a comment

Boston Book Collector Weekend

Yesterday was Boston’s Book Collector’s weekend. There were two shows, the bigger one being the 36th Annual International Antiquarian Book Fair and the other was the Boston Book, Print and Ephemera Show. I spent a little time at both.

The Antiquarian Book Fair is more for serious collectors; way out of my price range but it was quite fun to look around and ogle at the beautiful things money can buy. Dealers were there from Europe as well as all over the US.  Out of curiosity I sought out the English dealers. I am a HUGE fan of Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel. Many people know of the book and have had to read it at some point in their school career but few realize it is actually the first in a 20-some book series. Only the first one ever made it into print in the U.S. For years I have been scouring used book sales for copies (Yes I could buy them offline but it’s not as fun). Sure enough, the third English dealer I found had two of the books in his class case. I was ecstatic until I learned that 800-some English pounds was almost 1000 U.S. dollars. While talking to the owner he explained that because they were first editions and still had their slipcovers intact they were worth a lot. I explained that I didn’t want them from a rare book perspective, just to read. According to him I had never thought to bring the less expensive reprint copies to an antiquarian book fair, they are everywhere in the U.K. So my search continues…

The Antiquarian Book Fair was mostly books as the name implies but every so often there was a booth that was different. One such one was The University Archives. The glass case up front displayed items signed by certain individuals and such oddities as a piece of computer hardware that purported to be part of a device that the FBI used to eavesdrop on Whitey Bulger and Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter. How can you authenticate that? I have no idea but I was seriously confused at first. What was an archives doing selling off its stuff? It’s not an archives but a company from Connecticut with a very ambiguous name. Not sure how I feel about that.

The Expo was a bit more laid back (Though the other wasn’t too stuffy. A man had his movie star photos in a binder labeled "A Binder of Women"). Instead of class cases and men in suits it was more like a huge yard sale (though still with some very expensive pieces) and many other things other than books including posters, newspapers, pamphlets, just about anything paper based. Looking through a box labeled “Mid Atlantic States” I found someone’s 1953 photography thesis that featured a street I used to drive down every day when I lived in New Jersey! It sure made my day! The picture (which I took with my dying cellphone) is on the left and the right is the Google maps street view of it today. It actually looks like it thrived more in the 1950s.

After seeing this 60 minutes clip about the FBI/NARA scoping such fairs for lost National Archives treasures I really wanted to spot the Feds and perhaps get a word with them  and network (As an archives student currently in a federal job) but alas, either they weren’t there, I missed them or they were “undercover.”  However I did overhear a man who said he was an Antiques Road Show appraiser (and boasting about being recognized by middle aged ladies on airplanes, funny because I can’t match his picture to any on the Antiques Road Show website) chatting about appraising the IRA archives for the U.S. Government.  Doesn’t sound like something you should be chatting about in a public place but I lingered nearby to listen. ;)

I love Boston.

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Archivists in Library School

Last week, I briefly mentioned that I decided I no longer wanted to pursue my Masters in History (at this time!), and I will be focusing solely on my Archives Management concentration. I made this decision due to a number of factors, including cost and time constraints, but also a desire to just get out there and work. The reason that the decision wasn’t easy for me to make is because I truly believe that history as a discipline has a lot to contribute to the way that archivists think about archives.

There are a number of articles out there that talk about the intersection of history and LIS departments and the subsequent evolution of archival education in the US. (Joseph M. Turrini published an article titled “From History to Library and Information Science: A Case Study of Archival Education at Wayne State University” in Information & Culture: A Journal of History this summer, which is available through ProjectMUSE.  For our archivists in training, you can find an abbreviated version of his discussion here). Due to increasing technological demands and specialized classes offered by LIS programs, archival education is moving out of history departments.

What have we gained, and what we have lost? Ultimately, I think that depends on your goals and what kind of archive you want to work in. Attending a program rooted in LIS allows us to take classes in web development, XML, archiving and preserving digital media, metadata, and so on. On the other hand, Archives Management is a concentration of an LIS degree; we are also “stuck with” core courses that can weigh more towards libraries than archives, which can feel irrelevant and not directly applicable.

I’m not saying that I learned nothing from Reference/Information Services or Information Organization (which dealt primarily with Dewey, MARC, and LCSH—again, these classes can be applicable to archives), but I also think it’s healthy to be critical of the education we’re receiving. Will there one day be an Archives Management degree that stands on its own? Years from now, how will we be educating future archivists? For me, it’s fun to think about.

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Begin Year Two

I’ve been making a lot of trips back and forth between Boston, D.C., and my hometown in Pennsylvania since the end of my internship at the Smithsonian’s NMAI, and I feel like classes crept up on me out of nowhere. I decided to take three classes this semester (instead of two last year) in the hopes that I can finish my degree a little faster. I’m scheduled to take Access and Use; Records Management, and Establishing Archives and Manuscript Programs, and I’m really looking forward to them.

I decided not to continue working towards my Masters in History, so I’m down to just the Archives Management concentration. I had a really great talk with my advisor, who was able to address all of my concerns and fears. I’m a much different person than I was when I first enrolled at Simmons, and a lot of my goals have changed. I may pursue a Masters in History somewhere further down the line, and I actually have a ton of ideas for my thesis, but I’ll probably be looking for a much more defined history program when I do—and maybe I’ll be working in an academic archive where they’ll offer to waive some of the costs of my classes! (One can hope.)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading into the foundations of archival education and Masters programs recently and how archivists are being trained, and while I don’t have all of my thoughts together on the subject yet, I hope to have something composed to share with you all next week.

Hope the semester's started off on a good foot for you!

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Adventures in the Social Law Library Archives

My unplanned foray into the world of law librarianship has taken yet another unexpected turn: I’m working in an archives at a law library!

A few weeks ago, my supervisor at the Social Law Library told me that, if I wanted to, I could spend a couple of hours each workweek in the Archives. Of course, I said “yes” with no hesitation. As I’ve articulated in a previous post, I’ve found a great deal of professional value in my circulation job at Social Law, even as an archivist-to-be. But I would be a fool if I didn’t jump at this opportunity to squeeze some more relevance out of my pre-professional job.

I have quite a task ahead of me when it comes to the Social Law Archives. Due to budget/staff shortages, there is no professional librarian or archivist tasked with managing the Archives. To make matters even more interesting, the Library moved in the early 2000s, and whatever order that had been established in the previous Archives got jumbled up when it moved to the new building. Concepts like “provenance” and “original order” certainly become a lot more difficult to work with in a situation like this!

My job is, more or less, to figure out what’s down there and get a large-scale sense of intellectual control over the place. Something I’m noticing right away is there are really two high-level groups at work: the Social Law Archives proper and a Special Collections component. The “Archives” themselves are composed of the materials Social Law has created over the course of its history as an institution, and the Special Collections are a compilation of various groups of materials that have been donated to the Library over the years, such as judges’ and legal institutions’ papers. It may seem like a minor distinction to people outside of the archives world, but to us archivists it’s a big one!

My ultimate goal is for this currently unorganized place to become a resource for researchers--there’s a lot of cool stuff in the Social Law Archives (& Special Collections), and no one knows about it! We have a long way to go before we can get to that point, but if I can do something during my time here to push Social Law closer toward this goal, I will consider it time well spent.

I’m finding myself coming up with project ideas for a “future intern,” and I’m starting to think that I’m going to be that intern. There’s a 130-140hr internship component to the GSLIS Archives Concentration, and if I can get the formalities figured out then I believe I will spend that time working in the Social Law Archives. It’s official--Social Law has sucked me in!

Archives | Internships | 1 comment

Archiving Hate

Just a word of warning - this post is not going to be very cheery. As I wrote a few weeks ago, my current History class is on Race & Media. We've talked a lot about the subject of lynching and there is some important information that I'd like to pass on.

First of all, I learned that lynching was not just an activity that occurred to slaves before the Civil War. Actually, it proliferated after the Emancipation Proclamation. When African Americans were slaves, sadly enough, because they were someone's property, they were protected more than after they received their so-called freedom. When they belonged to a white farmer, other whites could not harm them without suffering penalties.  But, of course, once they were considered freedmen under the law, white mobs could accuse a black male of any number of crimes and subsequently lynch them. Thus, lynching was most frequent in the early 1900s, especially during Jim Crow laws.

If that isn't disturbing enough for you, here's the kicker: people sent postcards of lynchings. It was a popular affair. You'd gather up the family and travel to see someone hanged, or burned. Then you'd get a picture postcard and send it to your distant relatives in the North or out West. It is possible that the idea of a picnic came from these types of events, although the word originated much before this. Check out the Snopes article on it and see what you think -

Now, there is an online repository of lynching postcards on a site called Without Sanctuary.

Continue reading Archiving Hate

Archives | Dual Degree Programs | 1 comment

So...why library school?

If you are currently contemplating the decision to attend library school, chances are at some point in your search process, you have heard some helpful individual say something along the lines of "Libraries are dying/e-books are rendering books irrelevant/why do you need a degree for that/fill in your own silly reason here." This issue irked me so much, it actually wound up being the introduction to my admissions essay for Simmons.

Are e-books and the internet changing the way in which libraries operate? Of course.  But the library as an institution is far from becoming irrelevant, and in fact, I think this is a fascinating time to choose to enter our noble profession.   For a start, there's so much potential that technology and the internet opens up for us, and a simple Google search is just the tip of the iceberg.  When your friends and family learn that you actually know how to extract useful information out of Google in a method more refined than random keyword searches, their estimation of you will rise.  If you ever help them locate information using a database, well, you might as well be able to walk on water.

There's also the legal side of things - issues of copyright, fair use, pricing and licensing of e-books.  We might not be directly involved in these conversations, but they certainly affect us all and the work that we do.

Take e-books.  You probably own an e-reader of some sort or know someone who does, and your public library probably offers access to e-book downloads that you can checkout, just as you would do with a hard copy.  Yet, the decision last March by HarperCollins to limit checkouts of their e-books to 26 (at which point a library would have to re-purchase the license) or even the case brought this week by the Justice Department against Apple and other e-book vendors about price fixing have an impact on our field.  Do we move with full speed ahead to e-books? Do we wait and see how this all plays out? How do we keep up with a field of technology that is producing better, faster, sharper, cheaper devices every six-eight months?

And that's just the start of things.  Information preservation.  Archives.  Curation. These are all issues of concern addressed within the LIS curriculum and within our profession.  So, to all those who think that going to get your LIS degree is a huge waste of time, I say psht.  The road ahead might be uncertain, but the challenges and rewards of entering the profession at this point in time are immense.

Archives | Libraries | 1 comment

DIY Archives: NEA Spring 2012 Meeting

As Danielle kindly mentioned in her last post, she and I recently shared a blog-worthy experience; this past Saturday, we attended the New England Archivists (NEA) Spring 2012 Meeting. Running the risk of blog redundancy, I’m going to spend a bit of time writing about my experience at NEA. Luckily, Danielle and I attended some different sessions and got different take-aways from the meeting, so I’m thinking this post will be unique after all!

The NEA Spring 2012 Meeting was held at Wesleyan University, which makes its home in the quaint city of Middletown, Connecticut. It was really nice to have the opportunity to get out of Boston for a day; I love the city, but getting out to smaller-scale America is something I really appreciate doing from time to time. As a bonus, Wesleyan University is a beautiful campus, and since the weather was somewhere in the realm of “This can’t be March!” we were able to get some time outdoors between sessions.

This was my first ever professional conference. It was very exciting to spend a day with so many archivists!

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StoryCorps animated shorts, or "are you taking oral history?"

Had not checked in on StoryCorps for a while... but since 2011 they have started animating some of the oral histories. Great idea. The circle is completed by featuring Studs Terkel, a godfather of the academic oral history tradition (at least in the US) who was one of the inspirations for StoryCorps in the first place.

I am not an offcianado on Studs Terkel by any means, but this bio from his site sums up part of his life work;

On "The Studs Terkel Program," which was heard on Chicago's fine arts radio station WFMT from 1952 to 1997, Terkel interviewed Chicagoans and national and international figures who helped shape the past century. The program included guests who were politicians, writers, activists, labor organizers, performing artists, and architects among others.

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Life after GSLIS, aka "Finding a Job"

Hi everyone! Remember me? Your long-lost GSLIS blogger from last year?  And you thought you were rid of me (ha!)

I've been meaning to write this post for quite awhile, but in the midst of finishing my thesis for the history side of my archives/history dual degree, finding a job, getting a job, and moving for that job, it just hasn't happened until now.  And I think it's about something pretty important--what happens after you finish your degree from Simmons GSLIS?

For me, finding a job was a lot easier than I expected it to be.  We all know that the economy is not the greatest right now, and things like libraries, archives, and museums have been especially hard hit.  I found that the key to finding a job was research, research, research.  I spent about an hour every day just looking for new job postings.

My favorite places to look:

GSLIS Jobs & Opportunities - A job listing site run by Simmons GSLIS.  This one has a lot of preprofessional and volunteer jobs, as well.

New England Jobline - Run by Simmons GSLIS, this site collects library and archives jobs from around New England

ALA Job List - The American Library Association's job site. - The official website for all government jobs. If you want to work at the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, a presidential library, a national park (most of them have archives!), or as a librarian on a military base, this is the place to look.  If you go to "Advanced Search," you can search by location or government agency; or (secret tip!) type "14" in the "Series Number Search" box, and get all of the library and archives jobs in one place.  A great thing about USAjobs is that you copy and paste your resume once, and can then use it to apply for multiple jobs---makes it easy to apply for ones you might otherwise pass up!

CT Library Jobs - I'm originally from CT, so I already knew about this site.  A lot of other states have similar sites run by their state library associations, so check out ones where you want to live.

SLA Career Center - Job postings for positions in special libraries.  If you are interested in a certain area of librarianship, check if there is an organization for it--they probably have a job site!

Other library school's websites - Okay, don't tell anyone at Simmons, but I also checked the job sites provided by other schools.  I did this because Simmons's site tends to focus on jobs in New England, while I was willing to move anywhere.  I found that Indiana University and University of Texas had particularly good sites. - If you want to work at a college or university, this is the place to check.  You can set email alerts for new postings, filtered by keyword, job title, and location.  This is where I found my job! - I saw jobs posted here that I never saw anywhere else, especially in corporate libraries and special collections.  Plus, you can set email alerts, so you don't even have to visit often.

And my favorite resources for archives jobs:

That Elusive Archives Job - A must read for any potential archivist. Goes over every detail of the job search, from resume to interview outfits.

ArchivesGig - Collects archives jobs from around the various sites where they are posted.  A great place to start, but not all inclusive, so keep looking other places!

New England Archivists job page - For local archives jobs.

Society of American Archivists job page -  Archivist positions nationwide

SAA's "Archives and Archivists" Listserv - If you haven't already subscribed to this, you should.  Not only can participate in discussions about our field, but a lot of jobs are posted here that you won't see anywhere else!

My advice:

- Use RSS feeds to track all of these sites. I use Google Reader, and it makes it a lot easier to just have one site I have to log onto, instead of 20

- If you have a dream job, check their site, and often!  I visited my dream repository's job site a couple times a week.  They didn't have any openings while I was looking, but I would have killed myself if something opened up and I missed it.

- I kept a spreadsheet of which jobs I wanted to apply to, with basic info (contact, deadline, salary, location), where I also tracked when I applied, when I got rejected, when I interviewed, and when I got an offer

- Sometimes, job searches take awhile on the institution's end.  If you don't hear from someone, don't give up hope.  The job I ended up accepting was one I applied for in September, interviewed in November, accepted in December, and am starting February 1.  I am still getting rejection emails and interview requests now, when I haven't submitted any applications in almost two months!

- Start your search early.  I began applying in July (I finished my GSLIS classes during summer session, but still had my history thesis in the fall semester).  L0oking back, my early applications were not as well constructed as my later ones--you are constantly refining your resume and cover letter.  My first interview? A total disaster.  If I could do it again, I probably would have started in May.

- Pay attention to the requirements (you don't want to waste your time applying for something you have no chance at), but not too much attention.  The job I ended up with wanted someone with 2-3 years professional experience, which--since I'm coming right out of school--I definitely don't have.  However, my history coursework and thesis topic were directly in line with the collection focus for the position, which in their view outweighed my inexperience.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained--it generally doesn't cost anything to apply for jobs

- And finally, don't give up! It definitely gets discouraging sometimes. I had one day when I got 3 rejections, all for jobs I really wanted.  It is so hard not to get down on yourself.  But in the end, there is a perfect position out there for you somewhere, you just have to find it, and convince them that you are the only choice.  Good luck!

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