Friday, August 10, 2012

Last Day, Final Reflections

Well, here we are: my last day of summer internship. I am quite proud of what I accomplished this summer, although I had hoped to be just a little bit farther on the cataloging. Oh, well. It’s not like the books are going anywhere, right? And I’m not going anywhere, either, so hopefully I can finish the cataloging over the course of the fall semester, and continue to add to my LibGuide.
Speaking of which, I think the LibGuide is the most tangible product of my internship, and therefore my favorite part. Sure, I updated hundreds of item records in Muscat, and categorized hundreds more to await my cataloging attentions, but that’s a lot harder to pin down. The LibGuide is all in one place, and is the consolidation of all my research, catalog-updating, and fun with hex values. I really hope that people use the LibGuide; I want to have a positive impact and something to contribute to the Gettysburg community, especially the not-always-visible LGBTQQAI portion of that community.
No matter the impact or lack thereof my work has on the community, this job has had an incredible impact on me. I have learned so much about how libraries in general work, and also about Musselman Library in particular. I have become so familiar with the collection, especially the LGBTQ-related parts, that I could probably direct you to the specific shelf an item is on, given the call number. Given a title and subject, I could probably give you the first letter of the item’s call number. These skills will probably be useful in my (hopeful) future as a cataloging librarian, if nowhere else. Just one more reason I want to live in what is affectionately known as Library Land for as long as possible.
Aside from that very specific skill set, I think that this internship has greatly improved my self-sufficiency skills. Aside from occasional consultations with Jess and Amy about the technical parts of LibGuide design and cataloging, and the instruction I got at the beginning of the summer, I have largely determined the shape and course of this project on my own. I decided where to start, what areas needed expanding, what topics and sub-topics I assigned books to, and the overall design and function of the LibGuide, with only occasional check-ins for approval. At first, not having a structure or a specific task was a little daunting, but as I got the hang of everything, I found that I enjoyed my semi-autonomy. Hopefully this will make it possible for me to drop in and do a couple of hours of cataloging during the semester and work on the LibGuide whenever I have a few moments free.
In short, I am grateful that I have been given so much free reign over this project, and proud of how it’s turned out so far. I am excited to keep this project going, and to see where it takes me over the next few months. This summer has been great; thank you, Musselman Library, for the experience. J

Note: my LibGuide can be found at

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Last Day & Farewell... Sort of!

My summer internship experience at the library is officially done. It’s odd to think about just how much I’ve accomplished this summer—I’ve researched Civil War genre painters, learned about nineteenth-century sheet music, installed frames, arranged Union soldiers’ swords—the list goes on. I truly am fortunate to have had such a unique and stimulating experience this summer.

I installed the last bits of several exhibits on Friday. I took tons of photos—I’ve included pictures of each below, so you can see the final results. I’ve also included a few sentences about each one, to give you a recap of what I did and what I liked most about each project.

James A. Beran Collection of Civil War Artifacts

This is a collection of Civil War artifacts from Special Collections. It was actually curated into an exhibit a few years back by Joshua L. Stewart, who graduated in 2011. The items are really interesting—my favorite part was definitely getting to hold all the swords! Arranging the display was a blast. I didn’t do as much research for this exhibit since we recycled most of Josh’s materials, but I still got to revise some things, like when we decided to clarify which items were models/replicas versus authentic.
NOTE: I did NOT design this webpage—this is all recycled from Josh’s work.

Mort K√ľnstler & Dale Gallon: Painting the Battle of Gettysburg

K√ľnstler and Gallon! I’ve talked about this exhibit frequently in past posts. Here you can see the text and title I installed on the wall—I have to say, seeing my handiwork up there was pretty rewarding. I loved this exhibit because it was probably the most traditional “art exhibit” that I got to work on this summer, but it also gave me a lot to think about in terms of high art standards versus kitsch.


The Race for the Presidency: Then & Now

This was an especially rewarding end result for me, as it was the one exhibit that I had complete control over from start to finish. I chose the artifacts, did the research, planned the display, compiled the text—everything. It was also interesting because it gave me a very different kind of “curatorial” experience, because it forced me to consider current events and politics in relation to my exhibit material. I love how it turned out.

Civil War Sheet Music

Not as strong a picture due to the glare, but I wanted to give you an idea of what the space looks like for this one. I struggled a lot with the arrangement of the sheet music, but I’m pleased with it the end results. What was cool about this exhibit was that it related more to my Art Historical interests than I originally thought—there’s the whole cover art aspect. Did you know that middle-class families made up a significant portion of patrons in the nineteenth-century sheet music industry? People kept extensive collections!

I’m sad that my summer here is drawing to a close, but I’m excited to see what kind of new projects I’ll be working on in the fall! I’m sure I’ll keep nitpicking at some of these exhibits, but I’m anxious to get started on other things as well.

I’m so glad I was able to be the Exhibits Intern “guinea pig” this summer. It was wonderful to be part of such a fun team, and to get to know each of the Exhibits & Programs committee members—thank you so much Meggan, Lisa, Jim, and Susan! I’d like to say thank you to Robin too, for helping me to forge this amazing connection with Musselman Library. I look forward to the fall and the further adventures to come!

Friday, August 3, 2012

More Cataloging, More LibGuide

The past two weeks have been a flurry of cataloging. I finally finished my huge list of LGBTQ books, as I reported in my last post, and last week I put the finishing touches on organization of the list and prepared to catalog.
However, one can’t just jump right in to cataloging. First, with Amy’s help, I had to find Library of Congress subject headings that corresponded to each of my categories. Some of them were easier than others; for example, Gay Culture is a Library of Congress subject heading, but my category of homosexuality in other countries around the world is harder to classify. I’ll probably have to break some of the categories up when I assign them to subject headings, or just be content with the headings they already have. I’ll find a way of posting my list of titles, or have a part on the LibGuide that shows the different subject headings that are pertinent.
The way I have unified the LGBTQ titles—all 700-odd of them—is by using a local information field in the catalog. Quick cataloging lesson for you non-librarians: when I talk about subject headings, for example Gay Culture, those go in a field designated by the number 650. This means that it’s a universal, standardized field and that the headings in those fields will be recognized anywhere. For local subject headings, those that are only used within one library (ours, in this case), the field is designated by the number 690. I’m using one of those 690 fields with the heading “LGBTQ Resources” so that if you want to see all of the books in the collection that relate to more than one part of the LGBTQ acronym, you can do a search for subject and input LGBTQ Resources, and you’ll get the list.
Okay, now you can feel free to rid your brain of that lesson. There’s no test, I promise.
I started cataloging the Gay Culture books, and I’m almost finished. Those books will probably be finished in the next week, and I’ll either start a new category or pull together enough other sources to make the LGBTQ Culture LibGuide page.
Speaking of my LibGuide, I made some changes to the landing page so that it’s a lot more helpful. Now available on the main page are links to websites, databases, online reference books, and magazines and journals. Plus, it’s rainbow-colored. (I probably had too much fun making it rainbow-y, but I have to amuse myself somehow, right?) I also changed the URL to make it more user-friendly. You can now find my LibGuide at the easy-to-remember address:
I only have one more week of working in the library before I take a few weeks to gear up for the coming semester. I will of course continue working on this project during the year, but I unfortunately can’t devote as much time to it with all those pesky classes to attend and such. (Just kidding; I’m super excited about the semester.) I’m happy that I’ve established the LibGuide, and I look forward to adding to it. Check in next week for my summer wrap-up post! J

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Installations, Check!

All the exhibit cases on the main floor are now officially filled! I still have some tweaking to do tomorrow (adding labels to the Civil War Sheet Music cases, for example) and  I still need to put the number cubes in the Beran exhibit. I have to say, installing these exhibits has been a lot more challenging that I thought it would be.
I guess I assumed the most work was always put in BEFORE an exhibit went up (planning, researching, etc.), but I’ve realized now that it takes the same amount of time and effort to make an exhibit look good for the public as it does to plan it. Maybe it’s because I’m both an artist and a perfectionist, but it took me at least a good hour on each exhibit before I was satisfied with the results.
Arranging items in cases is very different, too, from the wall installations we’ve done (for Kunstler & Gallon and the Fink paintings, for example). With the cases I had to consider things like background fabric (in terms of color and texture), whether I wanted reproductions to be set at angles or parallel with the case, and what kind of level at which I wanted to prop certain items. Balance, variety, contrast—I was forced to use all my visual skills as an Art History major (and Studio Art minor, for that matter)!
One day to go now. I can’t believe it. Like I’ve said before, this summer has just flown by so fast…
Note: I also finished the rest of the exhibit webpages earlier this week. Check them out here:
Stay tuned for photos of the work I’ve done on these exhibits. My camera died today, and the library one was being used this afternoon, but I’ll make sure to take some good ones tomorrow!