This post is part of the Student Experience series, which features current and former archives students as they reflect on graduate school, internships, and early career issues. If you would like to contribute a post for this series, please email me.
Guest poster Jane Kelly is the Historical & Special Collections Assistant at the Harvard Law School Library, and is in the MSLIS at the iSchool at the University of Illinois. Here, she discusses a zine she created to welcome a friend to library school!
Please welcome Kara Flynn, 2018 participant in our Year in the Life series, which follows new archivists in their first professional position.
Name: Kara Flynn
Position: Special Collections Librarian
Institution: Reese Library Special Collections & Institutional Archives, Augusta University
Years at position: <1
Education: University of Puget Sound (BA-English); University of Pittsburgh (MLIS with a concentration in Archives & Information)
Hello Year in the Life readers! As a long-time follower of this series, I’m excited to be sharing my own early career experiences with you this year. I’m originally from the Pacific North West, but have moved around a lot since finishing college. As I write this, I am almost exactly 6 months into my current position (and first professional position post-MLIS) as the Special Collections Librarian at Reese Library at Augusta University, in Augusta, GA.
I was first introduced to the world of archives and special collections when I took a class called “The History of the English Language” at the University of Puget Sound, and we spent a few hours with the archivist, who helped us analyze the evolution of English through archival materials and rare books. Before this experience, I hadn’t even realized that archives existed, let alone that I had access to them. That early experience sparked an interest in archives that has directed my career path ever since.
New professionals don’t come much newer than your incoming New Professionals Blog Editor: I was just hired yesterday at the Charles Schulz Museum, where I’ll be working with the Peanuts collections. Up till now, I’ve been a student worker at Oregon Health and Science University, handling diverse collections that span the medical history of the Pacific Northwest. Not to brag, but we have a pair of Medical Anti-Shock Trousers, multiple human skulls, and a Lebenswecker, a German device that Victorians used to stab each other back to health.
This year, I’m planning to continue our long-running controlaccess and Year in the Life series, as well as other good stuff TBA. To start us off and in lieu of last week’s controlaccess, here are a few recent articles related to archives:
Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves by Fobazi Ettarh. This was going around my office the day it came out. I think it’s essential reading for librarians and archivists. It’s about the emerging image of the librarian as an infinitely capable superhero of democracy, and how that image encourages a culture of excessive self-sacrifice in librarians while hindering healthy self-critique. Ettarh pays particular attention to the monastic roots of librarianship and the faint ecclesiastical overtones it still has. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still prefer to be seen as a superhero as opposed to a shushing caricature, but this is the rare case where the truth really does lie in between.
Inside the Battle for Arthur Miller’s Archive by Jennifer Schuessler [paywall]. An interesting piece about Miller’s collection and the complications posed by inter-institutional politics, bidding wars, and the wishes of a long-dead donor.
Researching Queer Archives from the Former Eastern Bloc by Francesco Dama [several photos not safe for work]. An interview with Karol Radzisewski, Polish zine editor and founder of the Queer Archives Institute, which is dedicated to materials about queer history in repressive countries (initially focusing on the former Eastern Bloc, but the lens is broadening with time). Radzisewski has a line in here — “History is literature, and I am writing my own” — that I think really captures the art and responsibility of archiving.