Katie Rojas is the newest participant in our Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position. We will be following Katie for a year. You can read the Katie’s previous posts here.
The past few weeks have been gloriously peaceful at work. (This is going to be a short post. I can feel it!)
I’ve largely been spending my time processing the collection of the elected official that we accessioned back in July. Beginning from scratch is every bit as nice as I imagined. I haven’t had to interpret any long-gone employee’s half finished work (unless you count the collection content!), which has been really refreshing. It’s also a little agonizing trying to make processing decisions on my own. I find myself moving sloooowly, referencing literature, and occasionally having to go back and fix a few things that I had originally neglected to do. They’re not huge things, but just things that would be better if I did a certain way, and things that should be done consistently throughout the collection. For example, today I realized that I wasn’t flipping duplicate copies face down in the folder – fairly common practice for my institution. I’m going to have to go back and fix a box’s worth of material now (at least it’s only one box). I know this is more institutional practice rather than archival practice, but it’s an example of how I find myself questioning just about every detail of processing and feeling the need to have standards at the ready for consultation. It would really, really help if we had a processing manual, but we don’t. I’ve created something of a plan for the collection, but it’s still a little fluid. It does, however, involve removing metal fasteners. My boss likes us to do that, and honestly I prefer to as well, hence this month’s photo! Staple-paper-clip-piles aside, I’m seriously considering creating a general processing manual if I can find the time. I’ve seen and reviewed several, so I know I could pull one together, but it’s still work. Work that will be incredibly worthwhile when interns roll in next summer…
Speaking of visitors to the archives, we have had quite the research demand this past month! There have been two researchers who have been coming in 2-5 times a week, plus a few more who have come in for one or two-day stints, and then my usual small trickle of remote email requests. I know many other archives receive FAR more research demand, but we really don’t. Honestly, we’re underutilized. But for a one-person shop, this is plenty for me to handle. Thankfully the two researchers who have been coming in regularly are very self-sufficient and are knowledgeable about research and finding aids (one is a retired history PhD and the other is beginning his dissertation work). Still, having them there makes me feel good. I like when people are able to find what they’re looking for, and I like when people are actually putting our collections to use. Archives are meant for use. It’s a core concept that really resonated with me when I took my introductory archives class, and helping researchers fulfill that purpose makes me proud and happy.
Finally, I’m looking forward to the holiday break and the New Year! I completed my semester of Metadata and Records Management classes. It’s a huge load off of my shoulders! I’ll be taking an Information Architecture course in the Spring along with completing my final capstone project before graduation. I still can’t decide what I’m going to do for my capstone, but I’m hoping to solidify my idea over the break. In addition to not having any schoolwork for a month, I get a very luxurious week and a half off of work, and I am very much looking forward to resting up as much as I can because after the holiday break, I’ll be diving in to the wonderful world of grant writing!