This past week I finished enough hours to be officially two-thirds of the way through my practicum. It doesn’t seem like I’ve worked 100 hours this semester, but working small shifts really adds up over time. I think I have three weeks left barring any unforeseen circumstances because I’ve been working every day for at least a few hours. (I really hope I haven’t just jinxed myself.) Since I’ve hit a milestone in my hours I thought I would reflect on the overall experience so far. I’ve been really enjoying working in the de Grummond Collection this semester. I think I’m learning a lot about the more mundane tasks archivists do, while at the same time I have been learning hands-on with the more interesting tasks like processing collections and creating exhibits. Overall so far it has been a great experience and I’m looking forward to finishing my hours; I’m sure there will be plenty of things to do before the Children’s Book Festival and the Ezra Jack Keats Awards.
Last week I mostly worked on the correspondence files. I had hoped to be able to finish the entire project, but I’m almost to the end of my supply of acid-free folders. Apparently they only order supplies annually, so while they know they need more, I probably won’t be there to finish the project. They had had some of the student workers working on them as time permitted, so they will have to finish the project. I’ve gotten them pretty far though, and of the 22 drawers of files, there will probably only be about 5 left when I complete my part. I think it’s unfortunate that I won’t be able to finish transferring the files to the new folders. While the student workers are helpful, because of my archival and library training, I’m more likely to catch mistakes in the files. There have been several instances when I noticed something was wrong with a file or that something was missing or incorrectly placed/labeled and it is difficult to know whether the undergraduate workers would have caught them. Like the previous posting described, the files are very interesting. I’m learning a lot about the day to day operations of an archive or special collection by reading the files. Most of the time we don’t think about the practical side of archival practices such as maintaining relationships with donors and contributors, but reading the files has reminded me of the many tasks for which the archivist is responsible that we didn’t learn about in class. Here is a picture of the correspondence files.