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

Danielle Geller

Danielle Geller

I’ve just started the Archives Management and History dual-degree program at Simmons College, and I’m loving my experience so far! I’m still torn over which direction I want to take my studies. On the one hand, I’m interested in Native American history and archives, but on the other, working in the corporate archive of a gaming or tech company would be a dream come true! But I know that over the course of my education at Simmons and through the internship and work experiences I’ll be gaining during my time here, I’ll figure it out.

Entries by Danielle Geller

  • Archivists in Library School

    Last week, I briefly mentioned that I decided I no longer wanted to pursue my Masters in History (at this time!), and I will be focusing solely on my Archives Management concentration. I made this decision due to a number of factors, including cost and time constraints, but also a desire to just get out there and work. The reason that the decision wasn’t easy for me to make is because I truly believe that history as a discipline has a lot to contribute to the way that archivists think about archives. There are a number of articles out there that talk about the intersection of history and LIS departments and the subsequent evolution of archival education in the US. (Joseph M. Turrini published an article titled “From History to Library and Information Science: A Case Study of Archival Education at Wayne State University” in Information & Culture: A Journal of History this summer, which is available through ProjectMUSE.  For our archivists in training, you can find an abbreviated version of his discussion here). Due to…

  • Begin Year Two

    I’ve been making a lot of trips back and forth between Boston, D.C., and my hometown in Pennsylvania since the end of my internship at the Smithsonian’s NMAI, and I feel like classes crept up on me out of nowhere. I decided to take three classes this semester (instead of two last year) in the hopes that I can finish my degree a little faster. I’m scheduled to take Access and Use; Records Management, and Establishing Archives and Manuscript Programs, and I’m really looking forward to them. I decided not to continue working towards my Masters in History, so I’m down to just the Archives Management concentration. I had a really great talk with my advisor, who was able to address all of my concerns and fears. I’m a much different person than I was when I first enrolled at Simmons, and a lot of my goals have changed. I may pursue a Masters in History somewhere further down the line, and I actually have a ton of ideas for my thesis, but I’ll probably…

  • Oh, can’t anybody see? We’ve got a war to fight.

    The past two weeks since my last update have been ridiculously busy. First of all, I’m at the point where I have been forced to sit down and start committing all of my findings to paper. I feel like the progress has been abysmally slow, and 20 (single spaced!) pages in, I feel like I’m only half-way to my conclusion. Luckily, it’s broken down into a number of smaller sections, so I’ve been hopping around to smaller topics that interest me to try and keep up my motivation. I’ve also found that if I listen to the same song on repeat for eight hours, I don’t get nearly as distracted as I would if I let Pandora do its thing. Thanks, Portishead. I can literally listen to your song “Roads” all day long. So far today, I’ve written two pages on the disposition of culturally modified human remains!  Oh, jeeze. This past weekend I also had the opportunity to attend the 2012 Wikimania conference in Washington, D.C. Fortunately for me, the conference was held at George…

  • Missing June

    One month down and 5 weeks to go at my internship with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and I’m really starting to feel the time constraints. I am in the process of compiling a report for the Repatriation Committee Chair of the Board of Trustees that creates a history of Board discussions and actions regarding repatriation since the enabling legislation of 1989 through the present day. I’ve been given access to a lot of confidential information, and I’ve also been given the opportunity to browse through some collections at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives on the mall! In the middle of all this, I’ve also been assisting the repatriation staff in digitizing and organizing documents in their information management system, Client Profiles. It’s interesting because it’s intended for legal use, but it works really well for their purposes. It’s also capable of syncing Word and Outlook email, so you can link information from multiple points of origin. (You can even upload audio files.) I haven’t really been on the information creation side of things…

  • Week 1 at my Summer Internship with the Smithsonian NMAI!

    So concludes my first week at the Cultural Resources Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian!  I’ll make sure to take some pictures that I can post next week.  I have my own little cubicle in the Repatriation Department and access to all manner of really interesting office files and archives.  At the start of my week, I felt a little overwhelmed at the scope of my project, but the more I dig, the more excited I get! I’m here through August 11, and by the end of my internship, I am expected to produce a report to the Board of Trustees on the department’s policy and case history.  I am looking at how discussions have evolved around topics concerning human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony, as well as conclusions and debates surrounding cultural affiliation, stewardship, Native American identity and state, federal, and institutional recognition, author, jurisdiction, etc.  As you can see, it’s a huge amount of information I’m trying to extra from Board of Trustees agendas,…

  • Time Off

    I have to admit, I haven’t been doing many productive things since class has been over.  A lot of my activities have been geared towards heading down to Washington, D.C. for my internship, which is now only a week away!  I’m really excited, but I’m also worried that I’m forgetting something.  I opted not to sublet my apartment, though it would have been an option, so I don’t have too much more to get ready before I leave.  I’ll miss my friends and my cats, but it’s going to be a really fun summer.  I wish I had more to write, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty once I actually start at the NMAI!  

  • /Spring 2012

    With only one last class and one last presentation to give, I’m facing the end of the semester, and I can’t believe it went by so quickly!  I’ve had a great experience in my Introduction to Archival Methods and Services class, and I learned so much from my internship with the Cambridge Historical Society.  The finding aid I created should be up on their website soon, and it’s given me a tremendous sense of accomplishment to process an entire collection from start to finish! This summer I’ll be looking forward to an internship with the Repatriation Department of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s Cultural Resources Center (phew, that’s a lot of words).  My internship starts on June 4th and lasts through the 10th of August, and I’ve been doing a ton of reading and research on my own before it starts!  I believe quite a few of us here intend to blog over the course of the summer, and I’ll have a lot more to say about it once it starts! For…

  • Two Weeks!

    That’s pretty much all I have left in this semester, and I’m working (not too) furiously to wrap up all of the assignments I have to do.  Today I’m trying to finish writing my literature review, the subject of which is related to my summer internship! I am looking at the literature that describes the ethical considerations and debate surrounding the acquisition, preservation, and access to Native American collections in institutional repositories and archives.  Historically, indigenous cultural materials were collected and described not by Native Americans themselves but by white collectors, anthropologists, historians, curators, etc, which has had devastating effects on Native American identity and cultural preservation in their communities.  There has been a call to improve the relationships between museums, archives, and repositories that house Native American materials and tribal nations to balance the needs of researchers and the “public good” with the needs of indigenous peoples. While many people now sympathize with Native Americans and would argue in favor of repatriation, many archivists are faced with a conflict of interest. 

  • Building a Fancy CV

    This semester, I’ve been trying to take advantage of all of the opportunities—beyond Simmons—that living in Boston has to offer.  Three weeks ago I attended the NEA Spring Meeting, and this week I attended a conference that on the service might not seem strictly relevant to our field:  the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (PC/ACA) conference in Boston.  True, there were a lot of panels on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter, World of Warcraft, and other popular fandoms, but the conference itself was huge!  The program was over 450 pages long, and I managed to find a few sessions that were on the intersection of popular culture, research, and archives, special libraries, and museums.  So of course I attended! I’ve found that some panels on an archive’s holdings can turn into a form of show and tell—look at these awesome things I have in my collections!—that never evolve into a discussion on methodology, theory, or issues of access publicity, etc., which can be frustrating.  One of the most interesting presentations, in fact, was on…

  • Nearing the End

    I’ve really been enjoying reading the thoughts of my cohorts regarding their paths through the GSLIS program at Simmons and their future career goals.  Elise talked about dropping the MA in History aspect of her degree, but I think I’ll continue to pursue it.  It means I’ll still be in the program come the Fall of 2014, but in the end I think it will be worth it. I have a summer internship lined up with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s Cultural Resources Center (pardon the long string of proper nouns) that I’m really excited about.  I also hope, within the history program, to focus my studies on Native American history—but up to and including contemporary issues like repatriation, energy, and access to education and information. On the other hand, I still have a month of spring semester classes to finish, and I really need to remind myself of that.  I’m really excited for  the summer, but I have a lot to do first.

  • In Flux

    A lot of the friends, acquaintances, and colleagues I’ve made since my time began at Simmons have been or have started to question the direction they’re going in library science/archives school.  I can’t say I’ve been exempt!  Through the classes I’ve taken, internships I’ve had, and even internships I’ve applied for, I’ve been molding and trying to figure out the course and shape of my future career. Do I want to work in a corporate or academic environment?  Out of all the areas and time periods of history that interest me, which do I want to continue to pursue?  What will be the topic of my dissertation?  Yes, I’ve definitely been weighing that one in my head, even if it’s still two years down the road.  Do I even want to continue pursuing history? One thing I’ve learned, which seems quite obvious but isn’t necessarily always black and white, is that I’ll never be happy in a job that doesn’t interest me.  Friends of mine that aren’t enjoying their internships find the material boring, and it’s hard…

  • Reflections on the NEA Spring Meeting

    Lucky for me, I get to beat my fellow blogger, Elise, to posting about the NEA (New England Archivists) Spring Meeting! Though it was actually the first time I had ever met Elise, we and two others carpooled down to Connecticut and shared a hotel room this weekend. If you want to see the response on twitter, check out #neasp2012. And according to NEA, session handouts and presentations should be available on the NEA website soon if you weren’t able to attend yourself. This spring, I served as a session reporter for “Funding Your Archives Project: Money Does Grow on Trees!” which featured presentations by Linda L. Carroll, Gwenn Stearn, and Giordana Mecagni, who unfortunately, was unable to attend, though her presentation was given by her colleague Jessica Sedgwick. I’ll be making a full report in an upcoming NEA newsletter, but there are some initial reflections I would like to make here. I found Giordana Mecagni’s presentation on outreach and advocacy as the best potential fundraising resources the most interesting and relevant to where I…

  • The Suburbs

    One of the benefits of going to school in a city like Boston is that, aside from everything you’ll be doing in school, the city itself has plenty to offer.  I completed my undergraduate school at a tiny university in central Pennsylvania—Shippensburg University, to be exact.  And even though I loved the school, the faculty, and my experience there, the best thing the town had to offer were fields of corn and cows.  Sure, my friends and I frequently made trips to D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia to see shows, etc., but that usually meant at least a 1 1/2  to 2 hour commute one way. Boston is much more expensive than middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania (my roommates and I shared an apartment and only paid $125 a month each in PA), but it’s justifiable in the end.  In a few weeks, PAX (a huge video game convention) will be coming to Boston.  I’ve already registered and am totally looking forward to it!  Sometimes  I do find myself missing green things and a little bit of nature, but…

  • The Processing Plan

    Open access and fair use and two issues concerning archives and archival materials is an issue that has recurred in my work and research time and again.  Ideally, I believe that information should be freely available for students, researchers, and the average citizen to access and use, but the reality is often much different.  Barriers—whether in terms of economics, time, or organization—rear their ugly heads from all angles. This week, I’ve been working on processing plans for two separate collections (one for a class and one for an internship), and “access” has been at the back of my mind for each project.  Archivists are the gatekeepers, not just in the sense that we are safeguarding materials, but that we are also responsible for guiding people to materials relevant to their need.  In laying out the foundations for a finding aid, our ultimate search tool, how do I ensure that I am doing my job effectively?

  • Work Experience

    If I were applying to an MLIS graduate program today instead of a year ago, there is one major thing I would have done differently:  I would have tried to get more related work experience before starting my classes.  It’s  not as if I feel behind in my classes or am having trouble keeping up, but it would definitely have given me more applicable skills to help me in not only finding an internship, but also working in my 438 internship. There are a lot of great volunteer experiences available, too.  Unfortunately, many historical societies and repositories run on very limited budgets, and they might not have the funds or the staff to complete all the projects they want (or even need) to complete.  I’m talking specifically about archives, but many local libraries are looking for volunteers, too.  Even the National Archives of the United States has an active call for volunteers open: I know from experience that juggling work (to pay for rent and food), your social life, and side projects can be difficult…

  • The Internship Hunt

    One fantastic aspect of the GSLIS program at Simmons College is the internship provision:  over the course of your graduate career, Simmons helps to place you with two archival internships.  I have an interview scheduled with the Cambridge Historical Society next week to discuss the possibility of me working on one of their cataloguing projects, which I’m looking forward to! However, my internship hunt hasn’t ended there.  While I have the option to take classes over the summer, I’ve been looking into a lot of really exciting internship possibilities at places like the Cultural Resources Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian AND (this is exciting on an entirely different level) with the Digital Media Assets team at Blizzard Entertainment. In the application process, I decided to head over to the Career Education Center at Simmons for help with my resume and cover letters.