Time for another throwback edition of Libraries I Love! This time it’s off to the Dole Archives, where the papers and records of Senator Robert Dole are housed, and where I interned for the summer of 2010! More of an archive than a library, but it definitely qualifies as a lovely LIS institution, which is what this series is all about. Here are the top 10 reasons you should brave the Kansas heat to check it out:
- It’s not just for Bob Dole aficionados/Republicans/political scientists! This archive definitely has something for everyone, from historical campaign materials to all kinds of multimedia to interesting press clippings (looking at you, Cosmo article about Bob Dole…).
- For example, there is a huge collection of ”objects” in the archives, most of which were gifts given to Dole during his political career; many are from his time spent abroad.
- The archives are just one part of the larger Robert Dole Institute of Politics, which hosts events, promotes civic engagement, and encourages the study of political science.
- The first floor atrium comes complete with a giant floor-map of Kansas and multiple permanent exhibition areas about Bob Dole, his military service, his political career, and his many accomplishments.
- The institute also plays host to many events, speakers, and traveling exhibits; the summer I was there featured a traveling photo-journalism exhibition on women in politics.
- It is located in Lawrence, Kansas, which is by far the best place in the state. A fun little college town, it’s definitely worth the ridiculously humid weather…
- It is housed in a truly lovely facility that is still fairly new; thus, the archival storage and processing areas are top-notch!
- The atrium also has a giant, multi-story American flag stained glass window, which everyone takes a picture of themselves with, as so:
- The Institute and Archives welcome researchers, fellows, and interns. In fact, if you’re interested in political science, history, and/or archival science, you should consider applying to the internship I completed back in 2010. It’s a great way to get paid archival experience.
- Sometimes Bob Dole comes to visit! He never did the summer I was there, but we did have an ice cream cake on his birthday (July 22)!
To visit the Dole Archives:
2350 Petefish Drive
Lawrence, KS 66045
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM
This is my second summer as a graduate assistant at an academic library. It’s a pretty jarring change of pace when we go from full-capacity one week to very slim patron counts the next. But it does give us a chance to catch up, both in the short term (shelving all of the end-of-semester returns) and the long term (projects Projects PROJECTS!).
While it’s certainly a change, I do relish the opportunity to explore things I don’t have as much time for during the busy semester. Since we have a lot less reference activities, graduate assistants can focus more on our individual special project efforts. Here are a few of the things I plan to work on in the coming months:
- Maintaining the web subject guides I’m responsible for, including checking links and making sure all of the info is up to date (I do this during the year as well, but it’s easier to go more in depth when I don’t have to stop every 10 minutes to help patrons). I’d also like to connect more with faculty members from the departments of the subjects that my guides represent; their input would be invaluable to improving the content of the guides to make them more relevant to students.
- Creating new subject guides! I’ve been assigned a few hot topics that aren’t currently represented in the library subject guide collection. I’ve been working on them throughout the semester, but this summer will be a good time to really pull them together.
- Finishing up my instruction guides. This past year we’ve all been working on instructional guides for our major databases and web tools; hard copies are available at the reference desk, and pdf versions are posted on our website at the point of access for each tool. Here’s one I recently finished that provides info about our federated search tool (searches multiple databases at once): Easy Search.
- Assembling and displaying at least two exhibits. My Garden Poetry exhibit will be up through May, but then I need something for June-July and then another idea for August/the start of the fall semester. I’m thinking of pulling from our closed stacks/special collections area for at least one of them… More to come on that later…
- Continuing to oversee the City Planning Special Collections project I’ve been working on for about a year. We have a large collection of City Planning documents and archival materials that have never really been processed. So I completed a folder-level inventory and then worked with one of the librarians to develop a processing plan. And as of this past semester we finally hired a grad hourly worker to start the processing! She’s working 3 days a week this summer, so the project should continue to come along nicely.
- Learning from the library faculty and staff in more direct, focused ways. Another GA and I are both taking a cataloging class this summer, and the Funk ACES cataloger has offered to give us a little more hands-on experience. We also get to help out with more technical services things, which are always fun; learning the nitty-gritty practicalities of the library’s workflows has been an unexpected pleasure of my job, especially during the summer.
Thus, while some academic libraries are certainly a little emptier during the summer, the librarians are no less active. We manage to find plenty to do, and enjoy the added bonus of eating lunch outside and getting a little sunshine!
The last time I posted about exhibits was when I had to throw one together for my job, to be featured in a campus-wide celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act. Since then, I have taken over exhibit coordinator duties at the library where I work, putting up three new exhibits over the course of the winter and spring (keep in mind that I work at an Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences Library):
I also ended up deciding to take an 8-week class on the Planning and Production of Exhibits. The class could not have been better! While I have had a few exhibit-designing experiences, the class opened my eyes to so many avenues and practicalities I had not considered. For instance, what takes your exhibits from neat and orderly to professional and eye-popping? What kinds of programming activities will get people into the library to see your exhibit? What kinds of conservation and installation concerns should you consider even before you finalize your item list?
Perhaps most importantly, the class really taught me to think about an exhibit as a narrative with an argument. Book “displays” have their place and can be very lovely. But “exhibits” go beyond the mere display of books and urge viewers to interpret, imagine, draw connections, and think about things differently.
Our final project was to come up with an idea for an exhibit, write an item list, write item labels and text panels, consider conservation and installation concerns, come up with programming and publicity ideas, and, finally, to construct either a print exhibit catalog or an online exhibit. Being that I just came off of a Web Design class, I decided to take on the web exhibit. At the library, my online exhibits are limited to the framework of the CMS we use for the library website. But since this was for a class, I got to use WordPress, a very sleek option for those creating online exhibits.
Hence, I present the online component for my exhibit on the Civil War letters of a Champaign soldier: “This Accursed Rebellion.” I hope you have as much fun perusing it as I did making it!
Last week in my digital preservation class the topic was: Value. As in, how do we get librarians, administrators, and the public to value digital preservation efforts? And not just passive value, as in, “oh yes, that’s a good idea,” but participatory value, as in “yes, I will contribute sustainable funding towards that preservation endeavor.” It’s one thing to think preserving our digital heritage is a good idea and quite another to actually provide the funding necessary for ongoing maintenance and conversions.
In one of the articles we read for class (“Investing in Value: A Perspective on Digital Preservation,” by James Currall & Peter McKinney, in D-Lib Magazine 12, 4), the authors brought up an interesting dilemma: “how difficult it is to value that which is not tangible.” This sums up, in essence, one of the major problems that digital preservationists, especially those that work with digital-born material, are facing today. Because digital preservation is a newer issue for most of the institutions that are currently tackling it, there is no funding precedent; thus it is an extra, costly expense. Also, most patrons and even many library administrators do not understand the fragility of digital resources.
As the class discussion blossomed I found myself thinking: this issue isn’t restricted to preservationists; many LIS professionals spend large parts of their day instructing others about the value and potential of intangible resources. For instance, academic librarians are always looking for ways to promote the rich wealth of information that serve under boring names like “Online Journals” and “Literature Databases.” Likewise, public librarians promote e-books and e-reading and have to explain the complicated value assessments and pricing models that lie beneath the supposed ease of digital lending.
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that teaching others how to value the intangible has always been part of library science. If we are to be anything more than book/information warehouses, then our stock-in-trade is the intangible: reference services (librarian time, expertise, and guidance), instruction (about library resources, community resources, digital literacy topics, etc.), and imagination (through literature, during story-times, and through cultural programming) are just a few examples of the intangible resources that we promote and provide every day.
So I guess my point is: the next time someone challenges the relevancy of libraries or questions a student’s decision to study library science, the appropriate response should be: “I teach people the value of intangible entities. Yes, we are books and a building, but we so much more than that. We are information, education, wisdom, imagination, and creativity for all!”
I’m currently taking a class on “Genealogy & Library Services” that’s pretty fantastic. We explore the nuts and bolts of doing genealogy research, as well as best practices for helping patrons access genealogical information and collections, both physical and online.
It’s really been an eye-opening experience for me in a lot of ways. First off, while I’ve always been interested in genealogy, I’ve never done extensive research into my own family. It’s been really great to go to various institutions and find bits and pieces of my own family’s history. Case in point: a published history of my dad’s hometown that contained a page on the original (my great-great-great-grandfather’s) family farm!
Another interesting part of the class has been our exploration into the different types of institutions that have records of interest to genealogists. Archives and libraries seem fairly standard, but it’s also often very beneficial to visit churches, local historical societies, courthouses, and academic libraries (the University of Illinois has a Map Library and an Illinois History collection, both of which could yield excellent information for genealogy researchers).
And lastly, it’s been very interesting to talk about the divide/tensions between the genealogy community and the academic community. My professor and many of my classmates have discussed their experiences of being shunned, slighted, or just not taken seriously by librarians and archivists when trying to conduct genealogical research in the past. This runs completely counter to my experience; while I haven’t pursued much genealogical research myself, I used to work at a college archive where we received many requests from genealogy researchers. We always treated them with kindness and respect, and never put their requests behind “academic” or “scholarly” queries. In fact, I really enjoyed helping genealogy researchers, as many of them were seeking more interesting background information about the time during which their ancestor attended the college (e.g. the cost of tuition in 1889 or a typical freshman year course-load in 1932). But I’ve been told my experience is outside the ordinary, and that at many institutions genealogy researchers are talked down to and/or treated badly. We talked a lot in class about how to mend these bridges and work with genealogists, as their numbers grow every year and they are some of the most loyal patrons at many institutions.
Overall it’s been a lovely class that’s really opened my eyes to a new kind of research, a new kind of patron, and a new way of looking at various institutions. I hope that wherever I end up working I’m able to once again assist genealogists, because now I feel much more prepared.
Time for a throwback edition of Libraries I Love! The Morse Library is the academic library and information center at Beloit College, my undergraduate alma mater. I spent 4 years studying, working, hanging out, and falling asleep (kidding…) in this place, so it’s definitely earned a special place in my heart. Here are the top 10 reasons you should visit, should you ever find yourself in south-central Wisconsin:
- It’s located at one of the most fantastic liberal arts colleges in the US. Seriously, Beloit pride.
- It’s where all of the cool kids hang out:
- Since it’s a small college (woohoo!) you can still print unlimited black and white pages for free!
- It’s so pretty! (Ok maybe it’s fairly standard library decor, but I still love it. I’m nostalgic; what can I say.) Built in the 1960s and then renovated in the 1990s, it’s a lovely place to study.
- Beloit’s library used to be in a Carnegie building! In fact, it was one of the few academic libraries that Carnegie funded (he was big on public/community libraries). That building is now the World Affairs Center on campus.
- So many windows! The north side of the building is all windows, for 3 floors. So during those cold winter months you can have some hope of staving off the seasonal depression with a little sunlight therapy at the library.
- This place is definitely one of the library locations that contributed to my future career choice. The staff, collections, and general atmosphere of the Morse Library was one of the factors that made me realize: this is where I enjoy being; I should try to pursue this…
- On those cold winter days it makes for a warm and cozy pit-stop between the residential and academic sides of campus.
- It houses the Beloit College Archives, where I worked for a year. Can’t even tell you how awesome the archives are; they probably merit a separate post.
- Did I mention it’s where the cool kids hang out? Because it is. Party in the study rooms: I’ll see you there.
To visit Morse Library:
731 College Street
Beloit, Wisconsin 53511-5509
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8AM-1AM; Friday, 8AM-10PM; Saturday, 11AM-10PM; Sunday, 11AM-1AM
I cannot believe it’s already April. College makes time fly by; every year since high school has gone by faster than the last…
My next big adventure, once this semester ends, will be going to my first major library conference! As I mentioned last December, I’ll be attending the ALA 2013 conference in Chicago in June! Since then, I’ve been getting regular updates, including my official registration confirmation, my hotel info, my roommate info, and my placement info! Placement refers to who I’ll be working with; since I’m going to ALA as part of the Student-to-Staff program, I’ll be spending roughly 4 hours each day helping out a particular sub-group. In my case, I get to hang out with the Public Programs Office!
Even though I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, I cannot wait for the summer and have been trying to do everything I can to prepare for the conference. In the meantime, I found a series of comics by Amy Martin called “11 Lessons Learned from my First ALA Annual” to be very entertaining and illuminating. Here’s one of my favorites:
How about you all? Been to any major library conferences before? Have any wisdom to pass on?
E-reading is all the rage in the LIS field right now; American Libraries Direct, the weekly online magazine supplement, contains a permanent section devoted to e-content. Public libraries are working hard to expand their e-book offerings, even loaning out e-readers. And LIS students and young professionals are expected to be familiar with the economic, legal, and technical issues surrounding e-reading. To ignore digital reading trends is to resist innovation and embrace ignorance.
Thus, while I am too financially strapped to own my own e-reading device, I have taken the time to experiment with my boyfriend’s Kindle; I’ve also read extensively on e-reading issues, from the fights over pricing that public libraries are having with publishers, to marketing strategies for e-reading resources.
However, one issue I had not considered until this week was the issue of reading poetry on e-readers. An article in the Washington Post by Lonnae O’Neal Parker, “Poetry’s tense relationship with e-readers,” really opened my eyes to a whole new aspect of e-reading: the extent to which the original printed versions of poetry can be reproduced in a digital format. Apparently many poets refuse to publish their poetry in e-book format because they insist that most publishers cannot guarantee that the poetry’s form will not be altered or disrupted when viewed on an e-reading device. While the web offers a higher level of control over format, through careful programming and coding, most e-book publishers will not guarantee such specificity in terms of line breaks, stanza breaks, punctuation, etc.
Publishers argue that publishing poems digitally is an ongoing problem/challenge that they are working on. But to truly get buy-in from writers, poets need to know that their artistic vision will be honored and that their poems will not be turned into a garbled mess.
There seem to be a few issues here: if publishers want to attract poets, and subsequently attract poetry readers, to e-editions then they need to be conscious of this problem and be willing to work with the poets and programmers extensively to find a suitable solution. Also, librarians need to be aware of poetry e-reading difficulties, so that we can help our patrons navigate e-reading more efficiently. Imagine if a patron’s first experience with the poetry of Emily Dickinson or Pablo Neruda or bell hooks was unknowingly disrupted by careless e-book programming. Hopefully publishers can figure out a way to perfectly replicate original formatting soon; in the meantime, it’s our duty to be aware of how e-reading can fall short and what we can do to assist patrons when it does.
This post is just to say: yesterday I purchased a genuine University of Illinois wooden card catalog cabinet. It is gorgeous; I have no idea what I’m going to put in it yet. But suffice it to say: my little librarian heart is so content right now.