Blogpost and photos submitted by SLIS student Colleen Cirocco.
While the scent of the flowers that filled the air is fading from memory, and I can no longer hear lime green parakeets singing from the terrace, I will never forget the two weeks I spent in Italy. And while I ate gelato and gazed at fountains, I was also studying the Italian approach to library and information science.
Catholic University of America’s course, Visions of Italy, included myself and seven other students, including two WSU online students, and ran from May 27-June 10. We found ourselves behind the velvet ropes of almost a dozen cultural institutions and libraries, with knowledgeable and engaging private tour guides at every stop. The two-week course was absolutely packed with site visits as well as unstructured time to explore on our own. CUA’s Rome Center is a hybrid living/educational space where we stayed and ate family style Italian meals (think stuffed eggplant, white wine pasta with clams). It is an incredibly beautiful campus, enclosed like a gated fortress, atop a hill in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome, perched above the noise and crowds of the city.
From the moment I stepped off the plane, I was learning, observing, absorbing Italian culture. Their advertisements, their shoes, their speech inflections, the heat in the middle of spring. Except for the time I spent sleeping (even then, Italian phrases and flickers of the previous day filtered into my dreams), every second of every day, I was learning what Italian culture was. I eventually saw how this translated into their approach to their information organizations.
From our leisurely three hour dinners, to the omnipresence of art and history, to stores closing during the mid-afternoon, to high schoolers having the opportunity to lead museum tours, it became clear that Italian culture values its art, and takes a rather relaxed approach to life.
While we saw many connections between these values and the management of their information organizations, I still believe that we only really scratched the surface of the topic. We came to the general conclusion that Rome’s cultural institutions, libraries, and archives—such as the Vatican Secret Archives, Rome’s National Library, and the Capitolini Museum—were far behind our standards of preservation and digitization. Their museums did not utilize technology or even consistent signage to enhance user experience, and we sensed a general “easy going” attitude towards security, evidenced by open windows and lack of crowd control. And most concerning to me, there was no sense of urgency regarding digitizing their collections.
Almost as an “Aha!” moment, on our three-day trip to Florence we were very impressed by the amount of work the Galileo Museum had put into digital archiving and enhancing their exhibits with interactive touchscreen modules. In a way, one museum put the two cities at opposite ends of a dichotomy: Florence being advanced, while Rome lags behind. However, such a reductive conclusion must overlook the complicated reasoning behind these disparities. It just cracked the door open to many questions about how Italy views their information organizations, and how various cities approach protecting their resources.
The course tapped into so many fascinating questions like these. It also lead me towards that golden moment of realization: there are other ways of doing things besides the way we do them. The moment this thought popped into my head I also wondered, “How are libraries organized in Germany?” and then, like a row of dominos falling, I saw the names of country after country flash before my eyes. I was confronted with immeasurable possibilities, with the sheer vastness of the world, and suddenly felt overwhelmed. Presently, this type of global consciousness is crucial, being essential for empathy and collaboration.
Overall, during my stay, I was most impressed with how art flows through every aspect of Italian culture. This struck me the most, as our relatively young nation doesn’t come close to having Italy’s history or cultural holdings. The inspiration I felt from the experience was dizzying. I hope, through my archival administration training, to be able to interact with art in the way that our tour guides did. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a way to offer my skills to one of their institutions. I did make sure to throw three coins in the Trevi fountain, which ensures my return to Rome, the eternal city.
To see more images from the trip, watch this video created by Colleen’s classmate, Katherine Currie.
By Mark Prindiville, MLIS Student and Wayne State SAA Student Chapter President
On Friday, May 5th, the Wayne State chapter of the Society of American Archivists was invited to take a tour at several repositories in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Michigan. Locations included the William Clements Library at the University of Michigan, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, also located at U of M, and the Eastern Michigan University Archives located at Halle Library. Our hosts included the William Clements’ Curator of Manuscripts, Cheney Schopieray, the Gerald R. Ford Library’s Supervisory Archivist, Geir Gunderson, and EMU Archivist, Alexis Braun Marks. Our personal guide was none other than the Reuther’s own Erik Nordberg, who helped arrange the tour.
We began at the Clements, where we were introduced into the newly renovated reading room and were acquainted with the general collections, if you wish to call them that, of the library. These included a plethora of Colonial American ephemera, as well as rare items collected throughout the years, including while William Clements himself was alive. After a brief tour behind the scenes, we were given a front row experience of the main lobby, where one can envision an older styled library to look like.
After taking a few minutes to dodge the rain and to drive several blocks away, we arrived at the Ford Presidential Library. We were given a tour around the different aspects of the facility, where we saw a replica of the Presidential Office through the doorway in a conference room, as well as the reading room, which overlooks a portion of the stacks for researchers to gaze upon. We were also given exclusive look into their audiovisual set up, as well as their processing area.
After continuing to fight with the rain, as well as taking a very lovely back road drive to EMU, we arrived at our final destination. Alexis greeted us in the lobby, where she then led us to the third floor, where the archives are located. One of the most memorable portions of the trip involved the ARC, or Automated Retrieval Collection. The ARC’s robot crane locates and moves hundreds of bins, which hold more than half a million books and other materials from the Library. Getting a behind the scenes look at this system proved to be an interesting experience for all of those who joined our tour.
After EMU, we left for Detroit, where we met at the Jolly Pumpkin to reflect on our trip and, due to the excitement, discuss what next year’s possible tour could be. Unfortunately, due to finishing up school, I will not be able to join in on the festivities; however, Nathaniel Arndts, newly elected President of our little chapter, will be the go-to leader of said trip, and will be the one who prepares SAA for the incoming school year.
On May 30, SLIS alumni gathered for a learning and networking event entitled “Information, Inspiration, Innovation: Technology Trends in Information Management” at Troy Public Library. A recording of the presentations is available at online!
Alumni and faculty gathered and enjoyed presentations by:
Kiron Johnson (MLIS ’16) and Stephanie York (MLIS ’15) of Quicken Loans, a division of Rock Ventures. They shared the project DetroitStockCity.com – a collection of digital images of Detroit taken by Rock Ventures photographers and curated by the Rock Ventures Digital Asset Management Team.
David J. Moore (MLIS ’15) from Carhartt, Inc. shared his adventures in creating a digital archive from scratch using OneDrive by Microsoft. He explained process and hints and tips that have helped his team as they work collaboratively in OneDrive.
Dr. Hermina Anghelescu, SLIS faculty member, discussed international librarianship and the opportunities, issues, and adventures that await those who choose to work or volunteer in other countries. She also discussed the many international library organizations that exist and ways to participate in those groups.
SLIS would like to thank alumnae Cathleen Russ (MLIS ’03), Director of Troy Public Library and her library staff for their assistance in preparing for the alumni event!
By Emily Perdue, MLIS Student
During spring break this year, I had the opportunity to participate in Alternative Spring Break, a week long project (similar to an internship) to learn more about the library science field. I was lucky enough to spend my week at the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis, MD, not far from my home town. I spent a lot of time in Annapolis growing up and was thrilled to go back for the week. A little background on the Maryland State Archives – the State Archives serves as the central depository for government records and its holdings date back to Maryland’s founding in 1634. The holdings include colonial and state executive, legislative and judicial records; county probate, land, and court records; church records; business records; state publications and reports; and special collections of private papers, maps, photographs, and newspapers.
When I first entered the Maryland State Archives, I was greeted by Emily Squires, a staff member at the Archives, and we began our tour of the facility. The main space of the archives is completely open and breath-taking as you walk in. The ceilings are huge above and a map of the state of Maryland can be seen covering the main wall to the top of the building just past the front door. Emily then took me on a behind-the-scenes tour of what goes on and where I would be working for the week. I then met my supervisor for the week, Corey Lewis and began going over what his department does and what I would be working on for the week. Corey works in the imaging department as the Imaging Specialist.
After a second tour of the Imaging department with Corey, and meeting the wonderful staff, I began to work on my project for the week. Not long before I joined the staff of the MSA for the week, they had begun reprocessing various collections that had been scanned over the last few years. While this is a long-term project, I was able to help alleviate some of the stress and continue working on some of the images for the week. I reprocessed various images through Photoshop to ensure that they could be uploaded to a digital repository and look as crisp and clean as possible for references. Overall, the entire trip was an amazing experience that I was extremely lucky to have. The staff members at the Maryland State Archives were so warm and welcoming and made the week absolutely fantastic.
Interlochen Center for the Arts is looking to hire an Academic Library Intern for the 2017 camp season. The dates of the contract are 6/12/17-8/7/17 and the stipend for the entire duration of the contract is $1,525. Housing is provided for the dates contracted. All meals are included with your agreement- breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This is a great internship opportunity for someone interested in librarianship as a career. This position serves the needs of the Interlochen Arts Camp by helping to provide campers, faculty, and staff with resources to support their arts specialty and personal interests while on campus.
Required documents for application are: cover letter/letter of interest, resume and a current listing of three references. You can upload these documents during the submission of the application process by selecting “Apply and continue to upload documents” button. Please upload your documents in a pdf format.
To apply go to http://www.interlochen.org/careers
Under Current Employment Opportunities
By Mattie Dugan, MLIS Student
On March 13, I woke up bright and early in the new-to-me city of Washington DC. A short Metro ride later, I stood outside the National Archives for the first time (and, yes, I was that tourist snapping photos). Through the rear entrance were seven other interns from Wayne and around the country. We went through security, which I would get very used to through the week, and were led to the office of the Archivist of the United States.
My first visit to the National Archives building was incredible. Our small group talked with the Archivist of the United States, asking questions and answering them. The Assistant to the AOTUS, an effervescent and enigmatic man, led us on a private tour of the Archives. I’ll never forget being one of only nine people in a room with the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
That afternoon, we arrived at what would be our workplace for the next week, Archives II in College Park, Maryland. Brittany Forth, another intern from Wayne, and I received training in NARA’s handling procedures. The knowledge from this experience alone has already proven incredibly valuable in my work and studies.
The rest of the week, Brittany and I worked in the conservation lab, under the supervision of Sara Shpargle and Lauren Varga, rehousing glass lantern slides that
were used to train the Army Air Force from 1903 to 1927. We moved the slides from their cramped boxes to more appropriate boxes, putting those that were cracked in Mylar sleeves. The small boxes, combined with previous handling, had resulted in many of the slides becoming cracked or unstable, but the new boxes and sleeves will mitigate further damage. As we worked, Sara, Lauren and other conservators working in the lab stopped by our station to chat with us about their responsibilities and how we might pursue similar careers.
Sara and Lauren were wonderful mentors. They encouraged questions, took images of slides we found interesting, organized special tours for us and even helped us plan our visit to the Library of Congress. We toured the photographic archives, where we saw original photographs of Abraham Lincoln and Ansel Adams’ prints. As someone who is particularly interested in conservation, I was ecstatic when Sara allowed us to help in conservation treatment of one of the slides!
My time at NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) was invaluable. I’ve never learned so much in a single week! It was a wonderful opportunity to meet people working in my field and to see how one of the largest archives in the world operates. It was a privilege to be part of this program and you can bet I’ll be applying again next year!
By Lori Eaton, MLIS Student
A Collection Created by the People
Dip your hand into a box of condolence mail held in the archives at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum and you’ll see grief expressed in many forms. Perhaps it was President Kennedy’s youth or the violent and very public way he died that triggered the outpouring of mail. Through the National Archives and Records Administration Alternate Spring Break program, I was honored to spend a week sorting, alphabetizing, foldering, and boxing some of the thousands of pieces of mail that represent the sorrow of a nation at a particular moment in our history.
People were moved to pay tribute in whatever way they could. Local and state governments made resolutions, renamed streets and schools, and gathered contributions for the memorial fund that would eventually support the presidential library where their own letters are now held. People sent poems, songs, drawings, mass cards, even sticks of gum. Letters came with photos attached – school portraits, pictures of local memorial services, and even photos of the sender’s television broadcasting the funeral procession.
Though letters from world leaders (Winston Churchill) and public figures (Vivian Leigh and Bing Crosby) are impressive to view, it is the personal way ordinary Americans offered condolences that I found most poignant. There was a letter from a young American serviceman stationed in Germany who witnessed the tragedy through the eyes of another nation. He wrote about attending a memorial gathering where people held signs that read, “Ich bin ein Berliner” referencing President Kennedy’s historic speech in that city in June 1963. Another letter, from someone with the last name Oswald, expressed how he felt “an inward cringing, a feeling somehow, of additional guilt” at the name he shared with the man accused of killing the president.
The most frequent requests for access to the Condolence Mail Collection has been from people asking about a letter they or someone they knew sent to the Kennedy family. The way the collection was originally processed made it virtually impossible to locate an individual letter based on the name of the sender. In 2015, the archives staff made it a priority to reprocess the collection and make it more accessible to the public. By the time Alternate Spring Break 2017 concluded, the interns and staff had completed processing for all Series 1, Domestic Condolence Mail through the letter P. Jenny Marciello, the project archivist, hopes that by the end of 2017 both Series 1 and Series 2, Foreign Condolence Mail will be more readily accessible to researchers.
The condolence collection contains the best and worst of us as citizens. It documents the mood and concerns of a nation in a time of fear and upheaval. It is not a collection of papers created by one president or even one administration. It is a collection created by the people, as in “We, the People of the United States of America.” I am proud to have played a small part in returning it to them.
By Mark Prindiville, MLIS student
For my Alternative Spring Break internship, I was selected to work amongst the Benson Ford Research Center’s finest information professionals. The project was advertised as an volunteering opportunity to work with the Watts Campbell Company record collection and to take an inventory of what may be housed within the boxes. Our team of four volunteers were tasked to record box and volume contents, with the goal of creating a box-level inventory for the collection in the mode of MPLP and extensible processing.
Housed among the stacks of the Benson Ford Research Center was a collection of corporate records that seemed like an endless span of storage boxes, filled with unadulterated history of the Watts Campbell Company. The volunteer team from Wayne State’s School of Library & Information Science, consisting of Laura Kennedy, Dereck Cram, Xander Geisser, and myself, were tasked with obtaining as much information as they could about the 500+ box collection. After becoming acquainted with the stacks and with the research center itself, we promptly began work on finding information that could help organize the collection in terms of series and the date range of the material that they were working with. One employee informed the group that fax records dated as late as 2004 were found, which heavily differed from the correspondence from the mid 1800s I stumbled upon.
Among the records contained several series the Benson categorized ahead of time, including Incoming and Outgoing Correspondence, Invoices, and Shop Orders, just to name a few. Numerous boxes were filled with letters to and from Watts Campbell, including a plethora of documents containing beautiful letter headings from companies no longer known to the naked eye. Occasionally, the team would stumble across materials with some humor, including back-and-forths between Watts and clientele, or curious purchases from family members of Watts Campbell. Other times the team would stumble into well-known history, including letters from Thomas Edison himself, or inquiries into draft exemptions.
In short, my experience working with the staff and fellow volunteers at the Benson was, I would argue, a success. I was able to obtain experience in working not only at a well-known institution for a week, but also with a rather sizable collection. I am very grateful for the experience and for learning so much about the work done at the Benson Research Center at the Henry Ford.
By Nathaniel Arndts, MLIS Student
Though short, my experience at the Ford Presidential Library was both illuminating and constructive. My fellow interns and I gained a thorough overview of the functions of the Presidential Library System while seizing an opportunity to hone the skills learned from classroom study.
Putting aside the excitement of handling letters and documents once in the hands of congressional and White House staffers, the actual processing of records was thrilling in and of itself. Despite the pressure of having to go through as many letters as possible, I felt I had to slow down to review them for their historical value. If it were not for this close examination of the details, I would not have noticed several amazing finds. In one letter, the writer claimed to be First Lady Betty Ford’s high school classmate. The processing archivist and I did a little digging and were able to verify that this writer was who she said she was. To me, this demonstrated that a document scanned quickly and in a cursory manner can lead to a piece of history left behind in obscurity.
For every day at the Ford Library, our group was able to have an in-depth discussion with the staff on the day-to-day and big picture functions of this institution. Not only did the staff inform us on how this one archive operates, but also the workings of the entire Presidential Library System. It was a novel concept for me to think of an individual archive as part of an expansive network operating under a uniform policy. I may have been interning at one archive, but I felt I was contributing to the mission and goals of an extensive organization that serves such a large public. I certainly will entertain any future opportunities of employment in a presidential library.
Just one week at the Ford Library provided me with so much insight and experience into the profession of my aspirations.
On April 28, SLIS faculty member Dr. Kafi Kumasi delivered the 2017 Gryphon Lecture at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois. Her lecture, entitled “Check the Rhyme: Harnessing Hip Hop’s Enduring Literacies with Teens Through Libraries”, focused on “…the enduring literacies of Hip Hop that teachers and librarians can use to honor students’ knowledge and social justice concerns in the learning process.” (http://bit.ly/2p4YK42)
The Gryphon Lecture is presented each Spring at the iSchool at Illinois and is sponsored by the school’s Center for Children’s Books. The lecture series features leading scholars in the field of youth and literature, media, and culture.
Dr. Kumasi’s lecture can be watched in its entirety by clicking the image below or by clicking here.
Dr. Kumasi is a research fellow at the iSchool at Illinois for the 2016-2018 academic years. At the conclusion of her fellowship, she will return to the School of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University where she teaches courses related to school library media, urban librarianship, multicultural services and resources and research methods.
More information on the Gryphon Lecture: http://ccb.ischool.illinois.edu/gryphon-lecture/
Gryphon Lecture Announcement Featuring Dr. Kumasi: https://ischool.illinois.edu/articles/2017/04/kumasi-deliver-2017-gryphon-lecture