Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wrapping Things Up.....

My practicum experience is now in its final phase. I am finishing the last of my assigned boxes in the Tzagournis collection, digitizing the last of the items selected from the Jesse Owens holdings, and preparing my powerpoint presentation. I have thoroughly enjoyed my semester in University Archives, and am grateful for the time and effort given by Kevlin and Tamar (University Archivists). Through their efforts, I have developed an appreciation for, and an understanding of the archival profession. This experience has piqued my interest in exploring further studies in this area of library science. The certificate program in archival studies at USM is something I will seriously consider now.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Heading into the homestretch...

Since my last post, the pace has picked up somewhat with regard to the Jesse Owens project. I have identified numerous primary sources from the archived collection, and have digitized these items. Kevlin (my mentor) has given me free reign to select items I believe may be of interest to students performing research for National History Day projects. To date, I have digitized letters from foreign leaders, programs and ship logs from the 1936 Olympics, poems written for Jesse by children.....and condolences received by his family at the time of his death. I will continue my review of the collection over the next two weeks. Final approval on what will be selected rests with Kevlin.

In addition to my analysis of the archived Jesse Owens holdings, I have initiated contact with the National History Day Organization for guidance in making our online collection a part of their research offerings.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Still at it....

Another week has come and gone, and I continue on my quest to process the Tzagournis collection. The work seems to be going more quickly, however. This is mostly due to a more systematic approach that I have adopted through trial, error, and numerous consultations with my mentor. I no longer am second guessing my decisions on what to keep and discard.....and I feel more confident in my ability to organize the seemingly endless stacks of memos, letters, photographs, videos, cassette tapes, etc.

My main accomplishment so far with regard to the Tzagournis collection has been to significantly decrease the number of boxes required to store the collection. This is a good thing as it produces a more streamlined, accessible collection for users....and the decrease in storage containers frees up more space in the depository where space is always at a premium.

In addition to my work on the Tzagournis items, I continue to browse through boxes in the Jesse Owens collection. I have identified numerous items which will be scanned and converted to digital formats.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Get that scanner going.......

As was mentioned in my previous post, I met with my mentor (Kevlin Haire) and presented what I thought could be items worthy of inclusion to the Jesse Owens History Day project. These items were identified through a thorough examination of the Jesse Owens archival inventory. Kevlin seemed to agree with my selections, and my logic for choosing them. She also suggested a few additional areas in which more items of interest may be located.

At this point, I am to begin scanning selected items at 300 dpi and saving them to my desktop. Further into the process, I will once again present these items to Kevlin for her consideration. Items meeting with her approval will be saved to a flash drive and narratives will be produced accordingly.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Back From Florida...

After a short trip to Florida (It always seems like a short trip when I go to Florida), I resumed my practicum duties. For weeks now, I have been slogging through the former Dean of Medicine's personal collection of memos, letters, publications, news clippings, plaques, financial statements, personnel decisions, confidential directives,...etc. Unfortunately, I am only about a quarter of the way through this mountain of paper. It appears I may not get through the entire collection by the end of the semester. Kevlin Haire, my mentor here in Archives, has assured me that few practicum students actually get through one of her collections during a single semester. In fact, she informed me that she also did her practicum in the OSU archives, and did not finish processing her assigned collection. She has also asked me to begin focusing on the second portion of my practicum experience.

After a meeting with Kevlin and Tamar Chute (OSU Archivist), I was given the task of browsing the inventory lists of the Jesse Owens collection. My objective was to select a number of items that may be of value in educating interested students and researchers on the life and legacy of this famous Ohio State athlete/historical figure. After scanning the inventory and pondering the importance of a number of items, I compiled a short list that I will present to Kevlin at our meeting this week. Some information may be rather trivial, other information will be of more value in a historical sense. For example, did you know that Jesse Owens' daughter was the first African American Homecoming Queen at Ohio State? Breaking barriers just like her father.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Phase 2.......

While still plugging away at the Tzagournis collection, my practicum has entered a new phase. This week, I met with Archivists Tamar Chute and Kevlin Haire to discuss my role in creating a web presence for the department's Jesse Owens collection. The goal is to develop a digitized resource for students who are engaging in research for National History Day projects. Tamar and Kevlin would like me to take a look at what the archives department already has available online and compare it to offerings from other institutions. I am then to present my findings and begin browsing the Jesse Owens inventory for items that would be of interest to researchers. These items will then be digitized and made available online.

I am anxious to begin working on this phase of my practicum. It involves the identification of archived items with historical/social significance. Although it might sound silly to some, there is an inexplicable thrill in having access to items that have a connection to history's significant events. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still Plugging away......

My third week of archival work has been a struggle for various reasons. First of all, the weather in Columbus, Ohio has been nothing short of horrendous. There is approximately 1 to 2 feet of snow on the ground depending upon where you look. I'm not happy about this......I tell my wife we were supposed to be in Florida by now. She just smiles at me and tells me to be patient. In addition to the weather, I have been sick.....and my mentor has been sick. This does not make for an optimal learning environment. However, I continued sorting through the "Tzagournis" collection as best I could.

When Kevlin and I finally had a chance to assess my progress, she seemed pleased. I was concerned that I was creating too many files per container (and subsequently too many sub-categories). She assured me that I was doing just fine, and that in all likelihood, I wouldn't make it through the entire collection within the imposed time constraints of my practicum. I was relieved to hear this. Since this experience (weeding, organizing, storing, etc...) was to be only 1 part of my practicum, I was concerned I would not get to the "Jesse Owens" portion. Having grown up in Ohio, and knowing of Jesse Owens' Olympic exploits, I am particularly eager to engage in the OSU Archives "History Day" project. Kevlin instructed me to begin thinking of ways we could increase online accessibility to this special collection...particularly for teens working on reports and projects. This will include the digitization of items, research and web development.

Monday, February 8, 2010

And so it goes...

The second week of my archival practicum did not differ greatly from my first week. I continued to wade through boxes of memos, newspaper clippings, brochures, photographs and personnel directives. I did make my mentor happy at one point by combining the contents of several boxes into one. Space is at a premium in the depository, so whenever there is an opportunity to conserve it....that's a positive. I am currently working on box #7 of 40 in the Tzagournis (former Dean of Medicine) collection. Generally speaking, my mission is to weed, organize, inventory, box and shelve these items. I have a long way to go, but I'm starting to get a better feel for the process.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Off and Running........

The first week of my practicum in archival work has been enlightening in several ways. First, I have had the pleasure of working under the supervision of Kevlin Haire, Ohio State University Archivist. Kevlin has made an effort to introduce me to the department's staff, show me around the building, and provide an introduction to the practices and terminology necessary for success in my endeavor.

I must confess, when contemplating my upcoming practicum experience last month, I had envisioned archival work as an exciting niche in librarianship. The reality I have encountered to date is quite different. My first assignment has been to wade through four boxes (from a total of 40) of paperwork belonging to a recently retired professor at the University Medical Center. Making judgment calls on what to keep and what to discard can be rather disconcerting at times. I have been given basic guidelines to follow, but much of the decisions are subjective in nature. I am scheduled to meet with Kevlin tomorrow to assess my progress. I'm hopeful that I am on the right track.