Sunday, February 5, 2012

Week One

       This was my first week in my archival practicum. I am working in the de Grummond Collection at USM under the curator and assistant curator.  My first day I was a little nervous because I’ve never worked in an archive before, but so far my experience has been very enjoyable. My first day I had an introduction to the collection, a tour of the places where it’s kept, and introductions to many of the people who work in the archives. I was given a crash course on the layout of the manuscript section, the main area in which I am working, which was fairly overwhelming. Like many archives, the manuscripts are kept on shelves in whichever manner the boxes will fit, so the aisles and shelves are numbered and a card system was created to assist the archivists in finding the material. As the week went on I felt more comfortable using the system to find collections, and it does in fact work quite well despite the fact that it seems both low tech and confusing. My first day I had to find places to house a few of the newly acquired collections, which definitely gave me a better overview of how the shelving system works.

         My other duties this week have mainly consisted of replacing materials in collections, by using the finding aids on the collection’s website and also through the system of paper slips which aid the curators in knowing where items came from. I can definitely see the value of meticulousness. While we learn in class the ideal, in reality these kinds of practices can become lost in the shuffle; they are extremely important in the functioning of the archive though. My final day this week consisted of helping prepare a few collections for appraisal. In class we learn how important it is for an independent appraiser to be the one to assess the value of collections. This was also stressed on Friday, though I did get to witness that it often takes the archive longer to prepare the collections than it does for the appraiser to work.

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