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


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…

Adventures in the Social Law Library Archives

My unplanned foray into the world of law librarianship has taken yet another unexpected turn: I’m working in an archives at a law library! A few weeks ago, my supervisor at the Social Law Library told me that, if I wanted to, I could spend a couple of hours each workweek in the Archives. Of course, I said “yes” with no hesitation. As I’ve articulated in a previous post, I’ve found a great deal of professional value in my circulation job at Social Law, even as an archivist-to-be. But I would be a fool if I didn’t jump at this opportunity to squeeze some more relevance out of my pre-professional job. I have quite a task ahead of me when it comes to the Social Law Archives. Due to budget/staff shortages, there is no professional librarian or archivist tasked with managing the Archives. To make matters even more interesting, the Library moved in the early 2000s, and whatever order that had been established in the previous Archives got jumbled up when it moved to the…

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 before,…

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,…

/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…

Experience, Experience, and More Experience

Internships are very important to the Simmons GSLIS experience. Many programs have internship requirements built into their curriculums. The Archives Management concentration, which is the only one I can speak to with any kind of authority, features a 60-hour internship at the beginning of the program and a 130-140-hour field experience at the very end of the program. The first allows students essentially to get their feet wet before delving into coursework, and the second serves as an opportunity to apply everything learned in the program in a culminating, final experience. Especially because level/amount of experience is one of the most important elements potential employers consider when looking to hire new archivists, I really appreciate having the opportunity to gain hands-on experience as a part of the curriculum.

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.

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?

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.