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.