Last week I didn’t work as many hours as I normally would because I had a doctor’s appointment. The time I did spend in de Grummond was mainly spent finishing the letters they send every year to thank the donors and provide inventory lists for tax purposes. I helped print, copy, and mail the letters. The hardest part was getting all of the addresses; they were in several different places, though they are in the process of creating an updated database of all the donors. Thanking the donors is an important part of cultivating a collection, and though we didn’t really talk about it a lot in class, I think it is one of the most important aspects of archival work, particularly for smaller archives or others not associated with universities. Oftentimes these kinds of archives depend on donors just to operate; properly thanking them gives donors an opportunity to really feel like part of the organization.
This past week I worked a lot of hours in my practicum making up for missing hours the week before. On Monday I went through the certification process to work in the stacks with the books. I had to take an almost two hour computer training program with quizzes on the Library of Congress Classification system. The program was cute (it starred a wizard librarian), but ultimately frustrating. I had to get a 100 on all four quizzes, which doesn’t sound that hard given my A in cataloging, but the program was a little complicated to use. I would think I had moved a book in arranging them in order and it wouldn’t have moved, and would thus get marked wrong. I also had to take a paper quiz. While this may seem like a lot of work just to be able to touch the books, it is very important that the people working with them know what they’re doing.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to work in the stacks this week. Along with the student workers, I have been working on a shelf read, which is going through the shelves and putting them in order. On the first day I found one that was correct number wise, at least it would have been if it had been a PZ 7 like the rest of the wall. It was actually a PZ 5, which are located in Cook Library right now, so it wasn’t even in the right building. I also found almost an entire shelf that was, while in order internally, several shelves past where they should have been. We pulled them off the shelf and put them on a book cart because putting them where they belong is going to be pretty complicated and involve moving several shelves worth of books to find room for them.
While working in the stacks isn’t traditional archival work, I’m enjoying the experience with them. It is more typically library or special collections work, and I think the broader the experiences I have in my practicum, the better off I will be when I have a real job. Even typical archives have to work with books, and the varied tasks I have been given so far have been very enjoyable.