Author Archives: Fatoma Rad

Last Day at the Burke

This semester flew by far too quickly, and with the end of the semester arriving, my last day at The Burke has arrived as well. My brief time here was wonderful and something that I will look back on and treasure. As mentioned in my expectations piece, I just wanted to gain exposure to the Archives field. Starting this internship, I wanted to fill my curiosity with Archives and Archival processing. However at the same time, I was a bit terrified at the thought that I may ruin a collection and make matters worse with my lack of proper ‘archiving knowledge’.

Brigette was one of the greatest mentors I have encountered in my Graduate career. She is well organized and gives you readings that help prepare you and give you a better understanding of Archiving. Brigette’s presence has been comforting and encouraging. I never thought that in my short time here (once a week for a little less than a semester) that I’d be able to go through two collections. I was able to take my time with these two collections and get a proper plan in order for each. Brigette and I talked today about the “More Product, Less Process” concept. I think it’s incredibly valuable to be able to start learning about archives by going through more processing and less product. I am incredibly thankful to Brigette and the Burke for giving me this opportunity. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling once you complete a collection.

As I sit here and stare at my boxes with their beautiful shiny new labels on them, I remember all the time, patience and care they took. Removing each staple carefully to make sure the pages don’t rip, appropriately interleaving acid-free paper in between each group of papers, delicately unfolding the pages to make sure no damage occurs, carefully handling photographs etc. etc… It all sounds pretty simple. But when you are going through this process and you keep in mind that these pages are so fragile and need to be treated with the utmost care, you treat each step as if it is the most important step in the processing process. Taking boxes full of papers, going through them all and trying to make sense of them all is no easy job. But as you turn each page and as you start making sense of the collection, that becomes the driving force that allows you to push through the long process. Realizing that this collection may help a researcher, even if one piece of paper in this collection may help someone, that was more than enough for me to keep going through each page and figuring out a way to organize them all in a sensible matter. It was incredibly helpful to have Brigette around. I was able to ask for advice and to go over my thought process for the new organization of the collection. Talking through my plan and my ideas for the categories with Brigette was a great resource. I think when it comes to archival processing, it’s best to have someone to talk to for feedback.

The collection I worked on, Church World Service Records, was an amazing collection to work with in that the Organization still exists today. The articles and documents I had in my hands were some of the first pieces of the Organization that has helped it grow to the large and successful organization it is today. It was interesting to read about the history and mission about the organization on their website and to see the documents that the Burke has.

Overall, this was a great learning experience. I know that if the opportunity presents itself, I will be able to take on an Archival project.  Having a better grasp of archiving and the core theories that go along with archiving, it helps me look at the field differently and reminds me to always remember that this may be of benefit to someone else. As a librarian, I believe it’s my job to safeguard knowledge and present it to my users the way it is, and when archiving, I felt this being put into action. I’d like to thank Brigette and the staff at the Burke that have made this experience not only a great learning experience, but also very enjoyable.

Internship Expectations

I am currently in my last semester as a Graduate student at Pratt Institute’s School of Information and Library Sciences program. I am also pursuing an Advanced Certificate in Museum Librarianship. I think each time I think about this being my last semester I get a little sad. I’m incredibly happy that I will be completing my last semester; but I would like a little more time to just learn more. Being in my last semester, everyone told me to take it easy and not to take on too many activities. To me, this idea is a difficult one to grasp. I always enjoy doing numerous activities to try to expose myself to as many different areas of the field as possible. I have a love for museums and history. Simply thinking of museums puts a smile on my face. I’ve always had an interest in archives, the problem was I never had any experience and I was scared I’d walk in and mess something up. I guess to put it bluntly, I definitely “geek out” when I get to see really old books, maps, pictures, pamphlets etc… In undergrad, I studied Comparative Humanities. I thoroughly enjoyed comparing various cultures, religions, lands and seeing how they’re different and similar. Although I may not know a lot about the details of this project, I’m excited to learn about it. I believe all history has some sort of significance, we may not have to say why, but we should respect it all and know that it can help someone. Knowing that I may be able to do something to help someone in their research is a truly amazing feeling.

As Brigette was giving me a tour of the library, she mentioned how the building isn’t ideal for the projects but they are making it work. I think they’re doing a great job with the space and limitations that they’ve been given. When we got to the room full of archives, it was amazing to be in a room where the manuscripts were studied, or even created, and now we are here today to try to get them back in order so they can be used again. The fact that these manuscripts are being used actively is fascinating to me. Often times you hear of libraries that have all these amazing material, but sometimes no one knows about them or they’re not very willing to share the wealth of knowledge. I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw all the boxes. But Brigette showed how much progress has been done in just a year and a half and to me that’s reassuring that I can do something to help. It’s inspiring to see that Brigette is helping this project move along so well. With this new fascination with archives, I feel that many places start an archiving project and dive in without a proper action plan. My classmate Bree Midavaine told me about her Internship at the Burke. She told me how her supervisor gives her readings, support and a clear idea of what to do and teaches her. This really intrigued me so I decided to try my best to try to get an internship here at the Burke to learn more about archiving and lucky for me, I got it!

The main part of my internship here is to be able to learn how to work in an archive. How to get through all those boxes, organize them, and safely store them for researchers to be able to use. Learn about the little details like how to watch after them, what steps to take to try to prevent future problems, how to protect the archive after you just spent all this time restoring and organizing them all. I’m hoping I’ll be able to complete at least one project from start to finish. As I sit here trying to collect all my thoughts and expectations for the semester, I’m actually just thinking about the room full of all the manuscripts and thinking, "hm how does it all get done?" It’s time now to dive into the readings and to learn as much as I can about archiving! I’m looking forward to working with the staff here and to learn as much as I can with Brigette.