Tuesday, May 3, 2011


After being gone for about a week due to Easter break and a particularly unpleasant sinus/ear infection, I have returned to the Reference Department! I'm definitely glad to be back amongst the piles of books that need sorting and the pesky printer that seems to always need more paper.

I have really enjoyed working at Musselman Library. Just yesterday I arrived for my afternoon desk shift panicking about my mountains of homework and the financial burden of purchasing enough caffeine to get me through it all. However, upon my arrival in the Reference Office I discovered the latest McNaughton Books rental catalog for the Browsing Room. While at the desk I gave a couple students a few helpful answers, but I spent most of my time reading through the McNaughton catalog, selecting books for the Browsing Room, and imagining which ones I would like to read if I ever was able to find free time to read for fun. At 3:00 I left the Reference desk much more calm and focused than I was when I arrived. I think that picking out books for the Browsing Room was one of my favorite parts of my Internship. It was something that was helpful, would have visible results, and somehow just imagining that one day I might have free time in which I could read for fun always seems to make me feel a little better.

However, while picking out books for the Browsing Room, it occured to me that these books will not show up until July and I will definitely not be here then. This served as another reminder of how quickly my remaining hours at Gettysburg College and Musselman Library are disappearing. As far as my Library Intern Experience goes, after today I have a short desk shift on Thursday, another on Monday, and then I need to find time for an exit interview with my supervisor, and that's it. And then in a little more than a couple short weeks, Gettysburg College will release me into the real world so I can find some real-life, and hopefully at least somewhat lucrative applications for my liberal arts degree. One such possible application is indeed graduate school for Library Science. While graduate school is not on my plate for next year, it is something that I would like to pursue in the near future. Even if I end up pursuing graduate studies in a field other than Library Science, I know that my Internship experience, especially the research skills and critical skills I have gained, will continue to inform whatever work I choose to pursue.

I can't say enough wonderful things about libraries, and especially about Musselman Library. Even before being given the Fortenbaugh Internship, the library was really like my second home on campus. (When I knew I was to be studying here very late, I frequently went as far as to bring a pair of PJ pants with me. If that doesn't make something a second home, I don't know what does.) Now, it is a place that I can hardly imagine not spending time in every day. Although I am very close to being academically prepared to leave Gettysburg College, I am definitely not ready to go. While it is true that someday I will (hopefully) finish paying off my student loans, I will always be indebted to Gettysburg College and Musselman Library for the the experiences they have given me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Next Level of Understanding CONTENTdm

Hello everyone and Happy Wednesday once again! As promised from my last blog entry, I come to you with new knowledge about CONTENTdm! If you remember from my previous post, I had learned how to input the metadata in the correct fields and organize the folders to be harvested by CONTENTdm. I could upload these digitized Tipton photos and their accompanying metadata for approval (this is the "digitized pergatory" I mentioned last time). But one final step that I did not know how to do was "take down" or delete the old digitized Tipton photos and "put up" the new digitized Tipton photos with the fronts and backs. This changed this past week when Catherine took the time to demonstrate for me how to complete this process.

Catherine began by showing me where the newly digitized photos and their metadata appeared on the CONTENTdm administration website. During the uploading process CONTENTdm checks for any new important changes that deviate from the other digitized photos already in the GettDigital college photograph collection. One deviation my modified metadata files had concerned the name I placed in the Creator field. This means that in the column where I am supposed to put the photographer's name as printed on the photo, I put a new name that no other photos in the GettDigital college photograph collection had. This was a great sign because my primary responsibility in this project is to go through these photographs taken by William Tipton and modify the creator name according to the way it appears on the photograph itself.

As you can see in the photos above, over the years William Tipton modified the way in which he marked his photos. From the mid 1870s to 1880, Tipton stamped his photos with "W. H. Tipton & Co." During the early 1880s, Tipton began stamping his photographs with simply "Tipton." From the mid-1880s on, Tipton adjusted his stamp once more to read "W. H. Tipton."

But back to CONTENTdm. After I informed CONTENTdm that these new creator names were acceptable, I could then select all of the uploaded Tipton photos I had modified and approve them. At this point, Catherine informed me that I needed to delete the old object files of the digitized photos I wanted to replace. After individually deleting each of these, I indexed the collection in order to add my new object files and delete the old ones. All in all, thanks to Catherine's great help, things went smoothly and I was able to complete the process from start to finish twice today without a problem!

As I learn more and more about digital collections, I am becoming all the more excited about starting graduate school in the fall. I will be attending the University of Pittsburgh in order to receive my Master's in Library and Information Science, with a specialization in Archives, Preservation, and records Management. I know that my experiences here in Special Collections will greatly aid me in understanding the concepts I will learn beginning in the fall. It is so awesome that, even as a novice without a master's degree, I have this opportunity to learn about the behind-the-scenes archival work that makes digital collections possible. I really can't wait to build upon this knowledge in the fall and to enrich my passion for archival studies! :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Known and the Unknown

Hello everyone and happy Wednesday! I've just emerged from another week in the world of CONTENTdm and I feel like I'm understanding more and more what it likes and what it doesn't like. Thus far, I've added a digitized image of the reverse side of close to 30 Tipton photographs!

During the process of adding metadata and digitized images to extant Tipton photographs in the GettDigital Collection, I have become more familiar with the steps needed to create folders that are compatible with the CONTENTdm system. In fact, I hardly cringe anymore when CONTENTdm is extracting the information I have placed within various file folders in order to create a cohesive entry for each photograph. :) For me, the most helpful step in the learning process was understanding more fully how CONTENTdm took the disparate metadata in excel spreadsheets and jpeg images and transformed it into a keyword searchable digitized photograph entry. Although I will not claim to know the tecnical intricacies of how CONTENTdm operates, I can see how the information I put in the different rows and columns (aka fields) of an excel spreadsheet are transferred into the metadata that appears under a digitized photograph in the GettDigital Collection.

Now that I have demonstrated how I am "in the know" about certain facets of CONTENTdm, I feel the need to also share one the aspects of the system that I'm not familiar with yet. After I have gone through the process of modifying and adding metadata and photographs, I upload the information in CONTENTdm and prepare it for publishing on the GettDigital Collection. My adjusted Tipton photo entries are in a certain digitzed pergatory of sorts until Catherine Perry, Special Collections' Archival Assistant, publishes them in the GettDigital Collection. In addition to adding the new entries, Catherine also has to take down the old, unmodified entries. Although I have yet to understand this process, Catherine has promised to show me how to do this next week! In this way, the unknown will be known before too long!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Musselman Library Reference Desk, this is Audrey, how may I help you?

I never thought I would feel this comfortable at the desk. At the end of last week a lot of librarians weren't in the building so I picked up one of their shifts. In January I never would have thought I could just volunteer for that. The idea of being at the desk alone was pretty scary, so the thought of being at the desk when there were very few librarians even in the building would have been flat out terrifying. But it was fine! There weren't too many questions because it was the lunch shift on Friday so for the most part students were either having lunch or had already checked out for the weekend, but I was still kept moderately busy answering people's questions.

I don't even get that nervous when the phone rings anymore! About half an hour ago someone doing genealogical research called the Reference Desk with questions about which library services are open to the public, and also asking about The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. I told the man on the phone that our library is open for public use and that I would look into his questions and send him an e-mail. Several minutes ago I sent what I think was a very helpful e-mail about how to set up a library account for Adams County residents and about our two copies of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg's journals (one is in Special Collections).

I really enjoy being helpful and I like that my Internship allows me to do that. The flip side of that is that I feel bad when I am unhelpful, but at this point I think those moments are becoming few and far between. On that note, I think it's about time for me to help some students by refilling the printer paper.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beginnings and Endings

Before I dedicate the rest of my blog entries to my work with CONTENTdm, I have one more exciting piece of news regarding the manuscript collection I processed... the finding aid for MS-118 Wikoff has been digitized and is now available on the Special Collections website! Here's the link! The photo to the right serves as the cover page to my completed finding aid. The three images in the center of my finding aid are photocopies of the three articles Mr. Wikoff published in the Gettysburg magazine based on the alumni letters that comprise the manuscript collection.

Now back to my current work at Special Collections! As I mentioned in my last post, I am in the midst of working with a collection of William H. Tipton's photographs that appear in the GettDigital collections. In addition to modifying the creator name and date of each photo, I am also adding a digitized image of the backs of many photos. As it stands now, only the fronts of the photos taken by Tipton are viewable online via the GettDigital Collection. Although I only want to add another view to a photograph already a part of the GettDigital collection, I cannot simply upload an image of the reverse side of the photo and be done. Rather, I have to copy already-existing information that describes the photograph (aka metadata) from an old excel spreadsheet into a new one. I then have to make other changes to the new spreadsheet, photocopy the reverse side of the photo, and save a copy of this image and the image of the front of the photo in a special folder.

The most fascinating facet of this project thus far has been to learn more about the work that goes into digitizing a photograph. All too often we take for granted the ability to keyword search a digitized collection without reflecting on the preparations that make the search possible. It's been really awesome to learn more about CONTENTdm and how it transforms excel spreadsheets and jpeg images into a digitized collection. As I hope can be seen in this entry, I have learned so much about the digitization process over this past week! However, as I am also sure is evident in this entry, I still have so much more to learn about the digitization process! In light of this, I am so thankful for the knowledgeable people that surround me and their kind willingness to answer all of my questions! :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fronts and Backs

Hello everyone and happy Wednesday! I come to you with an exciting piece of news- I have completed processing my manuscript collection and it is has joined the ranks of other processed collections in the depths of Special Collections! As you might guess, I felt an emmense sense of accomplishment as I completed my finding aid and prepared it for Karen to review. After Karen approved the manner in which I had processed the collection, I put descriptive labels on the manuscript collection boxes and headed back to the temperature controlled shelving area. As I put MS-118 Wikoff on the shelf, I felt like an investigator on Cold Case putting an long unsolved case to rest (forgive the crime-show reference :) ).

As I reflect on the experience of processing MS-118 Wikoff, I'm really thankful for the opportunity to thoroughly get to know the collection before processing its contents. I was able to acquaint myself with the memories of so many alumni, and I hope that my efforts will also allow patrons in the future to acquaint themselves with these memories.

Now that I have completed processing MS-118 Wikoff, I have moved on to another project concerning the Library's "Gett Digital" Collection. Within the collection's historic photographs, there are a number of Gettysburg College pictures taken by William H. Tipton. Gettysburg's long-standing, go-to photographer for quite some time, Tipton took many of the photos that we have of Gettysburg College students and professors. Over the years, the name and location of Tipton's photo studio changed a number of times.

My principle task is to go through the photographs taken by William Tipton within the Gett Digital Collection in order to discover the name of the photo studio at the time the picture was taken. Currently, photographs taken by Tipton in the Gett Digital Collection list the creator as "William H. Tipton." We would like to modify this section to contain the name of the photo studio instead.

This search has led me to looking up a number of student senior pictures dating back to the early 1870s. In an odd way, I feel a connection or camaraderie with these students. Although they graduated so long ago, these photos freeze them at the approximate point in their lives that I am living right now. I, too am on the cusp of graduating from Gettysburg College. I wonder if they had their futures lined up when these photos were taken and if they also felt a hybrid feeling of excitement and apprehension.

Enough nostalgia though. In going through these photos, I discovered a number of absolutely beautiful backs that Tipton used over the years to leave his mark on the photographs he took. Some are fascinatingly descriptive and others are ornately artistic! My personal favorite is the back that informs the viewer that Tipton's gallery recently moved and is right "next door to Buehler's Drug Store."

Needless to say, I'm already attached to the fronts and backs of these photographs.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

So Far, So Good

Since I've come back from Spring Break, I've started working on a Collection Development project. So far I've been looking at books that people have given as gifts to the college and deciding whether or not we should have them in the collection. At this point I seem to be stuck thinking that we should just keep all of the books I've looked at so far because they all seem at least moderately interesting or helpful. My pack rat tendencies are coming out; it's something I need to work on.

In general, things with my internship seem to be going well. I think I equally enjoy my time at the desk and my time in the office. They aren't actually that different sometimes because my desks shifts are usually relatively uneventful. On Monday afternoon people haven't started to worry about their research projects yet, and Thursday mornings are usually pretty sluggish too (especially a rainy one like today). At this point I don't feel as though my coursework has had very much influence on my internship, but my internship has definitely had an influence on my coursework. This is especially true for my class on Environmental Issues - knowing how to find good articles on current controversial issues has made my work a lot easier. I also like to think that my internship has had an influence on other people's coursework too. By learning how to give good answers to people's questions, I hope I am making their work easier too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Miscellaneous. Oftentimes, this word makes me curious and excited. For me, this word is an invitation to discover those things that just don't fit into clear categories. Upon reflection, I think its the unknown that really entices me to the miscellaneous. Miscellaneous boxes, folders, and drawers can be filled with fascinating trinkets that tell pieces of a story from another time... or they could hold little more than old cell phone chargers and spare change.

How does the word miscellaneous connect to my experience as a Fortenbaugh intern you may ask. Over the past few weeks, I have been processing and describing the remainder of my manuscript collection. After having categorized and arranged the letters and photographs that comprise this collection, I was left with five photos that didn't fit. Although I knew that they were linked to the World War II article written by Mr. Wikoff in the Gettysburg alumni magazine, I was not able to identify who had contributed them. This was problematic because I had chosen to arrange the letters and photographs concerning World War II within this collection according to the alumnus who sent them in to Mr. Wikoff.

After unsuccessfully deploying my amateur handwriting anaylsis skills in comparing the handwriting on the back of these pictures to various letters in the collection, I finally decided to create a seperate home for these semi-misfit pictures. This is where miscellaneous comes in. I chose to put these pictures in their own separate folder, entitled: "Miscellaneous photographs linked to “War Comes to Gettysburg” article in Gettysburg magazine."

Although these photos are in a miscellaneous folder within the collection, I was able to include quite a bit of descriptive information on my finding aid concerning each picture. This information will (I hope) detract from the ambiguity of the miscellaneous folder.

Another factor that will greatly detract from the ambiguity of the miscellaneous folder is an initiative in which our Special Collections is currently engaged. This project is digitizing our finding aids and making them keyword searchable on the Library website. In the case of my finding aid, once it is digitized and placed in a program called CONTENTdm, patrons will be able to search its contents- which I think is awesome! Here's an example to further demonstrate the awesome nature of this digitization project:

Say I wanted to search for information/photos of Huber Hall. I would first go to the Special Collections page and click the Collections link, which would take me to a page with all the Manuscript Collection finding aids (here's the link). I would then simply type "Huber Hall" in the search box and click enter. Because I entered the description of the beautiful photograph above as "Black and white photocopied photograph of Mel Brubacker outside Huber Hall circa 1940s," my finding aid would pop up as a hit.

For all of my love of things miscellaneous, I find great comfort in the fact that, because of this digitization project, the five misfit photographs in my collection will not be overlooked.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Other Projects: Librarians don't just read books all day.

Since I now have four hours a week to sit behind the Ref. Desk, but no more training material to work on, I have been given a couple projects to work on.

The first was a data analysis project. Librarians keep all sorts of data, from how many times someone asks the person at the Desk to fix a paper jam, to how many students have a class period taught by a librarian in Rm. 20. This data project was about figuring out how new faculty members make use of the library's services. When new faculty are hired they have to go to New Faculty Orientation and one of the things they are oriented to there is how they can have their Department's Library Liaison teach a class for their students in the library about how to use the resources we have here and how to apply them to the specific assignments on the syllabus. I had to dig through the lists of new hires and the lists of which professors brought their classes in to see how many of them matched up. While this wasn't the most riveting experience I've ever had, it is important for the library to have this information so they can try to plan how to market their services to the faculty better.

The next project I have been working on has to do with the Browsing Room. There are a lot of newly published books that we might not want for our permanent collection, but that we think patrons might be interested in, so we rent them and keep them in the Browsing Room. I have been perusing the book rental catalogs and selecting Musselman Library's rentals for the next couple of months. For example, Tina Fey and Betty White both have new books coming out. We don't really need these in our collection, but someone might want to read them, so we have ordered them for the Browsing Room. They should be in next month. The only parts I had trouble with here were the sections of the catalog that I don't know anything about, such as Sports and Graphic Materials. One of the Reference Librarian tips I have learned since working here is when in doubt, ask for help, so I talked to my comic book enthusiast friend for advice on that section. The new title Aaron and Ahmed is apparently getting a lot of praise in the comic book world, so that will arrive here for next month as well.

It is really exciting that I can have an influence on the collection here at Musselman Library. Even if it's only a small part of the temporary collection, it's still pretty cool. Next month there will be books in the Browsing Room because I thought they should be there.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

First Day without a Desk Buddy: A Detailed Summary

Today is my first day behind the Ref. Desk without a Desk Buddy. I'm glad it's a morning shift because those are usually much quieter and less eventful than afternoon shifts. All of the librarians have reassured me that if I need help answering a question I can just call any of them, but so far I've been fine. I've been keeping a list of everything that occurs at the Desk this morning so that I can properly document my first day out here by myself. So far it hasn't been terribly interesting, but right now I'm ok with that.
  • 9:00 - Shift begins. I'm still really excited about having a name plate to put on the front of the desk.
  • 9:01 - The Reference Desk Printer Paper Stock Pile is empty! Refill stock pile from closet.
  • 9:33 - A student asked if the scanners are downstairs. Small amount of nervousness as the student approached the desk, but that quickly dissipated after discovering how easy her question was.
  • 9:56 - Meggan the Librarian gave me two books that belong behind the Ref. Desk for me to re-shelve.
  • 10:04 - A student asks to borrow one of the Ref. Desk's Turabian manuals. Little to no nervousness/fear experienced because I happen to personally know the student from Marching Band.
  • 10:35 - A student has several questions about citing in APA format. I showed her how to use the Source Manager tool in Microsoft Word documents to format both in-text citations and bibliographies according to APA. Then I helped her identify the publication date and the publisher of one of her books. I got really nervous when it became apparent that she had a question that wasn't simply directional and that it was about APA, which I'm not very familiar with. But I was totally able to handle it. Super confidence boost for the rest of my shift.
  • 10:40 - Jess the Librarian asks me for my opinion on when the best time during the evening would be to hold a focus group about how students use mobile devices to access the library web page.
  • 11:00 - Kerri the Librarian asks how things went; I respond positively. End of shift. Relocate to Library Basement to finish typing blog post and work on homework for Environmental Issues.
Down time between events: Downtime is spent looking for information on National Library Week and thinking of potential themes we could use for that this year.

Summary: At this point I know that I often don't know what the absolute best answer to every reference question is. The way I deal with this is by thinking about how I would handle the issue and what would I do first if I were in the student's position. For example, if I were asked to format something in APA, I would handle that by using the APA option in the Microsoft Word source manager, so that's what I showed the student. (She also could have used the list of Citation Guides found on the library website.) Anyways, I survived, and I am feeling much more comfortable behind the desk.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Long lost freshmen traditions: the infamous dink

Hello and happy Wednesday everyone! This week I have been submerged in a past world in which harassing freshmen was a college sanctioned activity. This chapter in Gettysburg College history finds a voice within my unprocessed collection thanks to the curiosity of Mr. Jerold Wikoff.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my collection is comprised of letters submitted by various alumni to Mr. Wikoff, who was the senior editor of the Gettysburg alumni magazine. Within this collection of letters, there is a group of 11 letters that explain to Mr. Wikoff the freshman tradition of wearing the "dink." The dink was a beanie-like hat that upperclassmen required freshmen to wear upon their arrival to campus. Gettysburg upperclassmen were eager to ensure that freshmen adhered to this tradition; there were even men's and women's tribunals that were in part charged with the task of enforcing the wearing of dinks(you can see pictures of these tribunals in college yearbooks)!

Of the alumni that shared their reminisces concerning the dink, I really enjoyed reading the memories of Bob Siebold '56. Mr. Siebold remembers having to follow the code of "freshmen correctness" upon his arrival to the Gburg campus. According to Mr. Siebold, this meant donning a wardrobe comprised of "an orange beanie, and orange necktie and a sign which was tied around your neck with a string that stated your name and hometown." In addition to this inspiring and informative attire, freshmen were required to carry with them a book of matches so that, if an upperclassmen so desired a smoke, a freshmen nearby could graciously render their incendiary services to them.

Mr. Siebold also relates that he and his fellow freshmen classmates had to wear their dinks on campus at all times until the middle of November. At this time, the freshmen's fate rested on the college football team. If the team won their game, the freshmen could take off their dinks, orange neckties, and self-descriptive signs. However, if the team lost, then the freshmen had to don their freshmen wardrobe until Thanksgiving break. For some reason, this part of Mr. Siebold's story reminded me of Punxsutawney Phil and his all important shadow.

In learning more about the freshmen traditions that were once so pervasive at this school, I can't help but wonder how I would have reacted to having a sign around my neck, a dink on my head, and matchbook in my pocket during my freshmen year. All in all, I think these peculiar traditions must have fostered a real sense of solidarity between the freshmen!

Above is a fantastic picture of Mr. Siebold in his freshmen attire in October of 1952(he took off his sign before snapping the picture)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Exploring Library Room 20 - The Library Instruction Lair

For the last couple of weeks, in addition to working behind the Reference Desk, I have also been further investigating the Instruction part of the Reference & Instruction Department. While some instruction necessarily happens at the desk, the librarians have a chance to get more in-depth into teaching research skills when professors bring their students into the computer lab classroom in the basement. In the past couple weeks I have observed an English 101 and a 200-level Psych class, and my own Environmental Issues class was also brought in to meet with a librarian.

In many ways, the three different classes I attended were quite the same. They began with trying to find out which kind of library/research skills the students had and which ones they generally lack, and then an introduction to the library homepage. Also, under the departmental research guides, every class that comes into the library has it's own web-page with information specific to their particular research assignments. Then comes instructing the students in the best way to utilize the databases, which databases will suit them best, and also the inevitable discussion of what exactly a "peer-reviewed" article is and why they are useful. There are a variety of examples and activities to engage students in the research process and familiarize them with the library's resources. In the end it is hoped that the students leave the room with a better understanding of how good research is done and with some ideas for where to start finding the answers they need.

The computer lab classroom itself is tucked in the corner of the basement and in a way reminds me of the Instruction Librarian's secret underground lair. They herd the students down the hall past the bathrooms and into their lab where they then infect them with research skills before releasing them back into the campus. But students are not like lab rats and good research skills are not infectious, so it isn't quite that easy. Unfortunately some students aren't really interested in learning new ways to do research. Perhaps they already have some research skills and feel that theirs are sufficient, or perhaps the students are only taking the class to fill a requirement and aren't very interested in the subject matter. Only demonstrating the best way to research is often not enough - the librarians have also become quite good at "selling" the information. My experiences with teaching people are very limited, but I have noticed that if you start by pointing out that "this will make your lives a lot easier," people pay a lot more attention. Sometimes libraries are less about a place to keep all the books, and more about a place to help people learn.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

MS-018 Wikoff

I am pleased to tell all of you that my (partially) processed collection has been given an official manuscript collection number and title: MS-018 Wikoff! With this new technical title has come a number of exciting experiences for me this past week as the Special Collections Intern.

My primary task these past few days has been to think through how to arrange and describe MS-018 Wikoff. This was a really informative and challenging experience for me. Although I had read through an archival manual and had looked at a number of the finding aids already created by others, I still felt confused as to how to go about arranging and describing this collection.

It was at this point that I knew that I needed to seek the advice of my adviser, Archivist Karen Drickamer. Of all the helpful bits of advice she gave me, one in particular really resonated with me that I would like to chare with you all. She told me that each and every collection is unique; therefore there can be no rigid, unbending system of arrangement and description within the archival field.

Karen's insight kept me from trying to forcefully fit my collection into a mold formed and made for another collection. With the help of this realization, I have begun describing each entity within MS-018 Wikoff so as to best serve future researchers. Attempting to accomplish this while also remaining faithful to archival guidelines, I have been so thankful for the advice those around me have so graciously offered!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Love and War: A Serendipitous Sweetheart Story

Let me just say that I love that its my job to read and process the recorded memories of alumni during World War II. It is just so amazing to me that I can take part in the eternal preservation of these pieces of history! As I mentioned in my last post, I am in the midst of processing a collection of letters, papers and photographs compiled by the senior editor of the Gettysburg Magazine, Jerold Wikoff. Last week, I spent the majority of my time simply reading through and getting to know the stories of various Gettysburg alums that lived through the Second World War.

After I had finished reading the letters that chronicle each alum's World War II experiences, there were a series of folders with contents that I had not in the least expected. These letters addressed to Mr. Wikoff were in response to his request for what he called "Sweetheart Stories." For the Winter 1996 issue of the Gettysburg Magazine, Mr. Wikoff wanted to feature the stories of alumni who met here at Gettysburg and later got married all because of their time here on campus. Amazingly, Mr. Wikoff received around 70 of these sweetheart stories! As you can probably guess, they were such a joy to read. Each story had its own quirks and character which, admittedly, left me with a fuzzy feeling inside.

Hands down my favorite of these sweetheart stories was between a couple on campus in February of 1946. Returning from service in World War II, this ex-serviceman decided to attend the welcome back dance reception for returning veterans in Plank Gym. Upon his arrival in the gym, he caught the eye of a pretty girl. The two were introduced and, in the words of this Gettysburg College alumnus, "that was it! We dated almost every night, walking the battlefield and one or two times at the movies, Faber's drug soda fountain, and the Lincoln Logs." Who is this sweetheart couple you may ask? They are none other than Robert and Esther Kenyon Fortenbaugh!

What a serendipitous occurrence! It was such a pleasure to learn about the love story of the very woman for whom my internship is named! I am so thankful that Dr. Fortenbaugh took the time to share the story of how he met the love of his life with Mr. Wikoff, and by extension, with me.

Above is the excerpt of Dr. and Mrs. Fortenbaugh's sweetheart story that was published in the Spring 1996 issue of the Gettysburg Magazine.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recent Discovery: Answering Research Questions is Not Impossible

Having a name plate is still the most exciting part about being behind the Reference Desk. (It's the little things in life that really make a difference.) But almost equally exciting is that I have now successfully answered several research questions! I am continuing to learn how to do things and, more importantly, I am (usually) remembering how to do them. The other librarians are still taking turns being my "Desk Buddy" so there is always someone to help me answer the questions, but I am starting to provide students and other patrons with helpful information on my own.

It is also helpful that we often get students asking similar questions right after each other because they happen to be working on the same assignment. For example, while I was at the desk yesterday two different students came to the desk looking for help finding information from small town newspapers about Civil War soldiers. After watching my Desk Buddy for the day, Carolyn, assist the first student I felt vastly more knowledgeable as I assisted the second student.

Another big moment at the desk yesterday was when Carolyn went downstairs to assist a student with something and I was left at the desk by myself for about five minutes. It was rather terrifying and very exciting at the same time. Of course, nothing happened. Maybe the students could sense my fear and somehow knew not to ask me questions until Carolyn came back. But sitting behind the desk without a Desk Buddy, even if it was just for five minutes, was a big step on the way to knowing what I'm doing and feeling comfortable with it. I think there is a psychology term for gradual exposure to situations, objects, or stimuli that make you anxious in an attempt to cure you of your fear. Whatever the term is, I think it can be to my situation.

Apparently science is everywhere, even behind the Reference Desk. For that matter, there are several humongous reference books behind the desk about science. If you need them, just ask.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Acid free paper, unprocessed collections, and some French farmers

Hello everyone! This week as the Special Collections Fortenbaugh Intern I have been ushered from the figurative world of Archival processing methods and principles into the world of acid free paper and unprocessed collections! After having finished reading through the manual I discussed in my last post, Karen (Director of Special Collections) walked me through the unprocessed collections within the college's possession. After having told me a number of quirky stories attached to many of these collections, Karen gave me some time to explore the unprocessed material and see which collection most catches my eye.

This was the moment I had been waiting for. I now had the opportunity to explore and bond with each of these collections. Each group of documents, photographs, papers, objects, and letters tell their own story of the past. The thought that I could play a part in making these collections more accessible to Special Collections patrons amazed me! On one shelf there was a collection of letters from two brothers writing home to their family during the Civil War and on another shelf were the papers of a quirky physics professor who taught here at Gettysburg in the early twentieth century. The personal experiences they record and the facets of life they reveal are simply hypnotizing. I could have spent all day making my way through each and every box, but alas I had to choose which collection to process.

The collection I selected was compiled by Mr. Jerold Wikoff, who was the Senior Editor of Public Relations here at the college. For the June 1995 issue of the Gettysburg Magazine, Mr. Wikoff elicited Gettysburg College Alumni to submit their memories of World War II in order to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. This collection is therefore a living record of the stories that alumni sent to Mr. Wikoff preceding the publication of this commemorative issue. I chose this collection because of the wide array of experiences that I would be exposed to as I processed the collection. It has been fascinating to see the stories that so many alumni took the time to share with Mr. Wikoff. The manner in which they shared these stories is also really interesting to see and examine. Here's one example that really struck me:

Mr. Henry Burman (Class of 1941) was a combat pilot on a bombing mission that took him over German occupied France. Mr. Burman's mission was to destroy a German submarine naval base. In the midst of completing this mission, Mr. Burman and his crew were attacked by two flights of German fighter aircraft. After dropping 8,000 feet, Mr. Burman instructed his men to prepare to abandon their plane. His last memory being the feeling of his body hitting the dash board of the plane, Mr. Burman regained consciousness once again and found himself in the arms of some French farmers. Attending to his wounds as much as they could, this small group of Frenchmen cared for Mr. Burman until German troops came to capture and detain him as a Prisoner of War. Mr. Burman later learned that he was the sole survivor of this plane crash.
Over fifty years later in 1994, Mr. Burman made his way back to that same piece of French countryside that had served as the impromptu landing strip of his fighter plane. This is Mr. Burman's recounting of his return trip:

"I returned to the Village of Molac, where our plane had crashed, and met some of the people who remember the crash and who helped save my life. The farm boy who rode his bicycle for the doctor was there and invited me to his home where we had a drink of special brandy, and he told me that I was a miracle to survive the crash."
While in the village of Molac, Mr. Burman was asked by the townspeople to dedicate a monument they had erected for the eight crewmen who lost their lives while serving their country.

Stories such as these make me remember how important it is to record and remember the kind actions of others that persist even in times of war. As can be seen by Mr. Burman's recounting of this story, the bond that is created between those who give and receive compassion is one that does not perish, but lives on in recorded memory.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

They've begun to teach me their ways... Soon I will be one of them...

My name is Audrey Schwinn and I am the Spring 2011 Fortenbaugh Intern for the Reference and Instruction Department at Gettysburg College's Musselman Library. I am originally from Maine, but for the last three and a half years I have been down here in Gettysburg working towards my B.A. in English. (If everything goes according to plan, I will graduate in May.)

This brings me to the familiar question of "What do you do with a B.A. in English?" The Center for Career Development would probably tell you that 'you can do anything with an English degree,' but as for my personal answer, I'm really not sure what to do yet. So that's why you find me here, interning in the library. As an English major, the library seemed as good a place as any to start my search for career ideas. I have come here so that they may teach me the ways of being a Reference Librarian.


By this point I have completed my training, but only in the sense that I have made it through the Training Binder and not in the sense that I have any idea what is going on. So far the various librarians I have worked with have discussed things such as general library policies, knowing the collection, the reference interview, information search strategies, and ethical scenarios at the Reference Desk. (I have also learned how to put more paper in the printer, as well as how to fix the frequent paper jams.) Now that I am into my second week of interning I have been made aware of all the information that is out there, but the idea that a student will rely on me to help them find it is still a quite intimidating. When you sit behind the Reference Desk, library patrons assume that you know what you're doing. However, I have been promised that I will not be left alone at the desk until I am perfectly capable of answering the wide variety of questions that library patrons will come up with.

Although I am not currently confident in my ability to answer reference questions, I am confident in my ability to learn. (Thank you, liberal arts education.) In a library even the librarians are still learning as information and technology is constantly changing. I anticipate that my experience as the Fortenbaugh Intern will be a truly unique and rewarding undergrad experience.

- Audrey

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hello and Welcome! First Week as the Fortenbaugh Intern

Hello and welcome to Blogging the Library! My name is Sierra Green and I am the Esther K. Fortenbaugh Intern this semester in Special Collections at Gettysburg College.

Just to give you a little background information about myself: I hail from a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania called Adamsville. I am currently a senior here at Gettysburg College and I am double majoring in History and Italian Studies.

As the Fortenbaugh Intern for the semester, I will have the exciting opportunity of working alongside our library's archivists in Special Collections. I am really looking forward to gaining firsthand experience within the archival field throughout the semester!

My interest in the archival field was sparked through an internship experience this past summer. My primary responsibility as an intern was to process an oral history collection comprised of interviews with Italian American Pittsburgh residents. My passion for preserving the stories of these men and women really inspired me to think seriously about a career within the archival field.

Now, back to what I am currently engaged in as a library intern. I have spent my time thus far reading Frederic Miller's Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts. This manual has really helped me to conceptualize what it looks like to process a collection from start to finish. I feel almost as if I have been invited backstage to understand all the preparations that go into creating a processed collection that is accessible to the public! This "backstage pass" of sorts has made me all the more excited to begin processing a collection that will forever be available to Gburg students and patrons alike. All I can say is, how cool is that?! :)