Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Interning in the Outer Banks: Personal Information Organization

Although almost a year has passed, I still remember the first Moodle discussion board topic for the course 415: Information Organization. It was my first course in graduate school, and I did not know what to expect. The discussion board topic itself asked us to classify our personal information organization style based on three criteria researchers derived that had been the subject of one of our readings that week. (Yes, you do have readings for your first week of grad school.) I struggled with this post. Not because of the content – I knew exactly where I fell along the personal organization orderliness spectrum – but because this, my level of computer file organizing, was how my classmates would first meet me. 

I have returned often to the ideas in that discussion board this summer as I have worked through my internship collection. On the one hand, I have been heartened by the fact that even though the best-laid organizational plans can crumble – life, the passing of time, other unknown factors get in the way of perfect adherence to any organizational system. On the other hand, it makes me feel like I need to do a complete audit of my own paper “collections.” Two copies of the same musical program? Toss? Materials not in chronological order? Refile that stack. Papers I really, genuinely, truly do not care about? The recycling bin beckons. 

This is not to say that I think my materials would ever be valuable enough to donate to an archive, but I do like to think of some future archivist, an echo of me, in her first summer archival internship marveling just a little bit at how neat and disciplined I was in my personal organization. Perhaps she would chalk it up to my own “archival impulse.” Perhaps a more knowing supervising archivist would just smile and warn her that not all collections end up so organized.