April 11, 2012: Lunch with Brigette at Toast and tour of The Burke Library 3 hours
Today I met with Brigette Kamsler to continue my Archives/Special Collections interview with her. She is extremely helpful and has a definitive idea about who she is and what she wants to be doing. I am impressed with her excitement for her job and how that influences how she portrays herself. She is knowledgeable and is always willing to help anyone understand what it is that she does for a living. This is evident in the extremely detailed answers she provided for my interview questions and the enthusiasm with which she showed me around her work place.
The Burke is housed in one of the most beautiful buildings in NYC, but beauty notwithstanding it is not built to house paper documents very well. There are issues with humidity, water leakage, and a myriad of other “old building” related issues. She was able to show me why it is all important to house materials correctly. There was a whole collection that was directly under a leak. These documents were housed in water-resistant Hollinger boxes; therefore the boxes took the majority of the damage, which helped to protect the documents inside. It was very interesting to see how the location of the collection can hinder the proper conservation of records and exacerbate problems that all archivists have to deal with when trying to preserve their collections.
July 18, 2012: Meet with Brigette to go over paperwork and brief orientation 1 1/2 hours
I went up to Union this afternoon to have a quick meeting with Brigette to make sure that she had all of my personal information in order to set up email and id for my first official day in September. She also outlined how she was going to work the internship. Essentially it is an internship for the uninitiated Archivist, which is perfect for me. Aside from a brief stint working on a research project at the National Archives in Washington D. C. I have not really set foot in an archive. Even my class at Pratt was held in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia, for which I was only able to pour through a total of 5 archival boxes during the entire class. I have never created a finding aid and I’ve never sorted a collection from beginning to end. I am excited for this internship to begin, I believe I will be learning a lot.
Brigette gave me a basic schedule that we follow. I will begin by going through some readings related to archival processing that she feels is necessary for any archivist to have a grasp of. It is possible that I have read these in my Archives class, but a second go through should be beneficial as a good brush up. Then she plans to start me off on a small collection which I will ignore the “less process, more product” rule and do a full and thorough processing job. After I finish with that and I am comfortable with the whole process I will move on to processing a larger collection. After that we will see what I have time for, it all depends on how quickly I can learn how to do all this. The collections that I may be working with are within the William Adams Brown (WAB) Ecumenical Library Archives, namely the American Bilateral Conversations, 1965-1975 collection and the State Council of Churches collection. Both were part of the collections that were under that leak and need to be rehoused and described.
I want to not only be able to learn how to assess, organize, and describe archival collections and write clear, understandable finding aides, but how to be a better manager, especially in regards to interns or new members of the staff. I would like to focus my project not only on what I need to learn as an archivist, but also on what I think is valuable for any institution: how to effectively teach the uninitiated.
Total hours 4 1/2
As a note Brigette is using Archival Internships: A guide for faculty, supervisors and students by Janette Bastian and Donna Weber as her guide for developing effective internships for her students. I need to purchase this book at some point for my own personal library