This was my last week working in my practicum and I hate to leave. I’ve really enjoyed working in the de Grummond collection and while I’m thrilled to be graduating and starting my own position, it’s sad to be finished at the practicum. I only had a few hours left to work, so I only worked two days. Wednesday morning I re-shelved several boxes in the manuscripts, mostly cleaning up from last week with the book festival. With another student I also worked on a research project. A patron had asked about an author whose papers the collection has, looking for information on a specific time period. While the finding aid said that we didn’t have anything about the two specific books and the correspondence didn’t start until later as well, I looked in the correspondence to see if there was anything that referred back to the needed information. I didn’t expect to find anything, and in fact did not, but it was nice to spend some time doing reference work. I haven’t done a lot of that in my practicum, though it’s basically historical research, and that I’ve done a lot of over the years. We also collected several items for bags for a visit from some fourth and fifth graders who came on Thursday. We put together bags with bookmarks, posters, fliers, and other goodies for the students.
Thursday was my last day in the practicum. We had a group of elementary students from Bay St. Louis come to visit, so we took them on a tour of the exhibit room and The Circus Mural in Cook Library created by Esphyr Slobodkina. They were really excited to be here (many of them had never been on a college campus before) and were overwhelmed with everything we did for them. I love getting to talk to kids and share my love of something with someone who has never had a chance to experience it. One girl said that she was really glad she got to come because she would never have come on her own or learned the things she did. That makes anything worth it. It’s especially nice knowing how grateful they and their librarian were, when in reality it didn’t take much for us to make up the bags and do the tour. Though we only spent maybe an hour and half, you never know what kind of impact that will have on a child. Their librarian told me that a lot of the kids have really big dreams, but not a lot of opportunity, but giving them a spark could make a life-long difference. Some of them had already asked her could they come to school here if they wanted to be a librarian (!) or a biologist. That’s the amazing thing about kids: they are still incredibly excited about the future and a little bit of encouragement can make a huge impact.
Overall it’s been an incredible learning experience; I’ve learned a lot that we didn’t talk about in class. Most of things we focus on in class are by necessity the basics of the archival profession, but there are a myriad of other activities and duties that come up in the course of the job that there isn’t a way to learn about other than being in an archive. I feel like I have gained a lot from the experience, but I also feel like I helped them a lot as well. I know that one day when I have my own practicum students it will be a different kind of learning experience—teaching others how to do something teaches the teacher as well—and I’m looking forward to being able to pass on my knowledge to the next student.