Practically Practicum

Today I will be delivering an overdue blog post. I’m not sure what happened, but I looked up and two weeks had gone by. I guess that’s what data entry does to you. Last week brought much progress, but not much in the way of exciting images or commentary. I finished entering the Marcel Marceau American Collection into Past Perfect which was very exciting (the finishing, not the entering). The next and final step will be to create the finding aid. I hope I am able to eek out enough time to do this before I go home. I’ve worked this collection from the very beginning – and it very much feels like my baby. I’d like to see it through completion. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, as I’ve moved  on to the next phase of my fellowship – my practicum!

Yes, the time has come for me to pull up my freshly planted roots at TRI and head off to new territory. I must admit to missing the place already – I really enjoyed the environment of such a great library with wonderful staff. Everyone was so friendly, helpful, and really great at what they did. I’ll especially miss the company of Rachael, Brian, August, Orville, and the other residents of the processing room. However, the exciting thing about leaving is finding my new home and project. While I’ve heard sketchy stories about the places companies can keep their records, I’ve lucked out and found myself in a wonderful office in downtown Columbus where I’ll be spending most of my time for the foreseeable future.

As mentioned before, I’m working with the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company to help establish a company archive. I’m absolutely loving working with their material! They do some really amazing and inventive things. Kristina Isabelle has been very inspired by stilts and uses them in many of her pieces. There is something otherworldly about watching dance on stilts. It really makes you think differently about space and movement. As I’m currently going through the company’s DVDs to catalog and organize them, I’ve gotten to see a lot of their work and have been blown away by a lot of the pieces. Many of her dances have this dark and ethereal feel to them and I think it’s amazing.

As soon as I made it to my site, I quickly set to work making an inventory and looking at the materials. As you’ll be can see, I’m sprinkling the images throughout. There are a lot of moving image materials (DVDs, VHS tapes, Mini DVs, 8mm tapes, and such), programs, fliers, press materials, and other random notes and notebooks. As this is a young company, I don’t have an overwhelming amount of material which is great, because I think it’s going to allow me to do a lot of great stuff with the material that is there. I immediately set to work physically organizing the material and started creating databases to make the material searchable. With a huge collection, an item level inventory might be infeasible, but this collection is the perfect size for such a project.

To put in perspective how much of an information lover I am at heart – I’ve actually really enjoyed creating and entering information into the database. I’m going to have to take this opportunity to blast my love affair with Filemaker Pro. Seriously, this program is amazing and the newest version (12) is even more user-friendly than the last version. It was my first professional equipment investment and I have been nothing but happy about it. My favorite feature is the sort function. I can seriously sort my database in any way I want, by any field and even hierarchically. It makes finding and organizing things so easy. I recommend it to anyone. I even plan to use this thing to inventory my pantry when I get home. (Seriously, I’ve already started a Groceries database)

As of right now, I’ve databased all of the moving image material except the DVDs, which I am steadily making my way through. As I mentioned earlier, I’m rather enjoying the process. I’ve found everything from interesting interviews, stirring dance pieces, and a video of 3 stilt-walkers dressed as flamingoes being herded around by Kristina Isabelle dressed as a zookeeper during a Gallery Hop event (Which I absolutely ha watch in its entirety). After finishing that, I plan on moving on to the programs, promotional materials and other papers. One of the things I will be doing for the company is set up a sustainable system for organizing materials. Part of this system will include a rotation schedule that will assure that the most recent materials are most accessible, while the older, less used materials makes their way into the archive in an organized and safe manner. I’m hoping to sell them on the idea of databasing, but am not holding my breath -as I’m sure most people don’t find the prospect of FileMaker as exciting as I do.

One of the things that really excited me about working with this company was their digital material. While there is something undeniably warm and charming about analog materials – there is no doubt that digital is the next frontier of records. It’s great to get a chance to work hands-on with these materials and to do so early enough in the records’ life to assure their optimal survival. As anyone with a stack of floppy discs knows, while digital material is exciting, convenient, quick, and amazing – it also dates itself very quickly, and can become obsolete before you realize it. Because of this,  it’s of the utmost importance that people and organizations start thinking about preservation of these materials as soon as possible.  This collection offers me a wonderful opportunity to contribute to these thought processes and hopefully come up with some lasting solutions.

And that has been my last two weeks in a nutshell. I have many more ideas for this project and look forward to telling you about them next week. Until then, I’ll be camped in front of my computer, sipping coffee, watching videos, entering metadata, and wondering what I ever did to deserve such an awesome job.

Until next time,

-Tara

 

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Archives, Past Perfect, and Fiona Apple

After a weekend/weekday/mini-weekend/second-Monday/another-weekend-type of week, I’m honestly surprised I got much done last week. But as I’ve learned to expect, it was an eventful week that kept me busy and on my toes.

First of all, I have something to celebrate – I’ve finished processing! I couldn’t quite believe it when I’d done it. For half an hour or so, I paced back and forth between my shelves to make sure it was true – and sure enough it was. It’s a beautiful sight, really. The collection started out like this:

And now looks like this:

Voila!

You know those moments you have when you realize you’re right where you belong and what you’re doing makes you happy? That’s how I feel when I see my stuff put in order. It truly makes me heart swell in happiness and all seems right with the world. (I’m only partly exaggerating lol). Pretty and accessible. What more can you ask for?

So now that my processing is done, I’ve moved on to entering records into PastPerfect and after I’ve finished that, I’ll be working on the finding aid. After a few hours of stumbling maneuvering around PastPerfect and learning how to correct avoid mistakes, I’ve picked up quite a bit of steam with the entering of my records, and am at this point finished with my item level descriptions of all of my moving images, audio and promotional materials, and artwork. After I finish entering the paper files in the collection, I’ll move on to the finding aid. And yes, I am excited about doing that too.

Last week brought something else exciting – the introduction to my next project. As I’d mentioned in my last long post, I had a meeting with the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company early last week. The meeting went great, and I was immediately introduced to the materials I’ll become intimately acquainted with in the next few weeks. It was great to meet Kristina and I’m looking forward to working with the material. It will be the most born-digital material I’ve worked with in a collection yet. She has loads of DVDs, external hard drives, and other digital material. She also has some great analog materials as well. I’ve already got loads of ideas of things I’d like to do to help the company with the beginning of their archives. You’ll be seeing all of these things in the weeks to come.

I also got the opportunity to visit the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection at OSU which was unreal. As many of my friends know, I’m kind of in love with textiles so this was the sort of place I’ve dreamed of. I was blown away by the phenomenal things in this place. However, today I’m going to just leave you with a teaser, because honestly – this place deserves its own post entirely. (It is also worth mentioning that the picture below is not how the materials are stored permanently. This was a new collection being processed. I just love the look of the layers of fabric. You’ll see the proper storage when I make my longer post.)

On Friday, rather last minute, I decided that to go ahead and make the 3 hour trek to Cleveland to see one of my absolute favorite musical artists- Fiona Apple. In retrospect, it was preposterous that I waffled over the decision to go, especially as I’d never seen her live before, and had regretted missing my chance to do so ever since she last made it to Oklahoma in 2006. Either way, though, I decided to go and was absolutely, 100%, giddily happy about my decision to go. She’s an amazing performer and one of those musicians that sounds even better live than on an album. I was amazed by her sheer energy and the power that resounds from her voice and tiny, tiny body. It was a powerful experience to finally see someone whose work I have admired for so long in person.

And it really got me thinking about what it is that I do – what I’m doing at DHC, Ballets Russes Archive, TRI, and what I want to do beyond this. I’ve spent most of my days working with the materials of artists and dancers whose performances I will never see. Sometimes it’s easy to see them just as materials that need to be preserved, not as reminders and proof of soul-bearing experiences and the gift from an artist to an audience. But that’s what it’s all about, right? Remembering the things artists share with us, the pieces of themselves that they lend, however briefly, to an audience.And as archivists, we’re in this awesome position to help these legacies and memories make it on to the next person who is searching for inspiration, a glimpse of a process, a piece of a moment that made their world brighter, or someone who wants to assure that the memory of someone or something makes it on to the next audience. We’re in a position to put context to materials, let an artist have a personal say on what their work was about, who they were, and pass on what they give to us to yet another audience. We hold this collective artistic spirit in our hands and have the chance to sustain it for as long as someone needs to see it – whatever their reasons may be. It’s beautiful really and anything than ‘just materials’ that need some acid free casings and an index. It’s an incredibly important endeavor that deserves the most attentive and passionate people on all fronts. I’m lucky to be a part of it all.

Photo by Mark Romanek

So, not only was the concert good for my general demeanor, it was also an excellent marker of the transition I’m about to make – working with fixed materials to working with a company that is alive and thriving and renegotiating their materials every day. It was the perfect reminder of the amazingness that is art and performance.

Also, Fiona, if you ever need an archivist, I’m your girl :)

(And that goes for the rest of you too! )

-Tara

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A Few Delights

I hope everyone is having a wonderful 4th of July. I’m camped in a lovely espresso bar and am enjoying the iced coffee and wifi almost as much as I’d be enjoying a wonderful afternoon on the river in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. (Well, not really, but it’s always good to remain positive, right?)

The Illinois River

I wanted to take this time to tell you about a few things I’ve enjoyed in the last few weeks.

In the July issue of Dance Magazine, there is an article about my place of work in Oklahoma – The Ballets Russes Archive at the University of Oklahoma. It’s so awesome to see this place getting some recognition. There is even a little snippet of me gushing about the awesome materials we have in our collection.

Photo by Maurice Seymour, Courtesy Ron Seymour; from the Margery Beddow Collection at the Ballets Russes Archive at University of Oklahoma

The last few weeks I’ve spent processing have been made even more enjoyable by sitting across and taking turns showing off interesting materials with the other DHC fellow at OSU, Rachael.  You may remember her from last summer’s blog about her time with Bebe Miller. Well, she’s back at it this summer, writing another blog about her time working with several Dalcroze archives. What is that, you ask? Check out her blog and see!

Click to find out more about what is inside these boxes.

Also, remember a few weeks ago when I told you about this amazing storage facility I’d seen, and promised you a blog entry about it later? Well, there is an intern working at the Byrd Polar Archive at OSU who is writing a wonderful blog and has an entry that I believe does this place some justice. You really should check out her blog, it’s delightful, informational and explores preservation issues with moving images. <3

Picture is from (and links to) A Curious Penguin’s Blog. Check it out!

And this time, I’ll refrain from posting a gratuitous cockatiel picture. Again, I hope everyone is having a fun, relaxing, and safe holiday. And just think – two more weekdays until the weekend! :)

-Tara

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Storms and Surprises

I’m broadcasting to you today from a crowded coffee shop in Columbus. Seemingly the only coffee shop in the city with electricity. Friday there was a storm in Columbus that made me wonder if I had been transported back to Oklahoma. The wind was so strong, it literally knocked down trees. It was insane. Now something like 200,000 people in Columbus are out of electricity, and a number of them are huddled in here with me, seeking an electronic fix. I am actually not without electricity, but blog here quite often as I don’t have an internet connection at home. So, I totally understand the siren’s call of internet and caffeine.

 Last week at TRI was good, but had a few surprises. While early in the week I thought I’d finished processing – it turns out I was wrong. While looking at an inventory list, I noticed there were some things I didn’t remember seeing. So, I went back to my shelves and sure enough, hiding on a top shelf opposite the boxes I’d finished were two more boxes of uncharted territory. As I’ve been sagely told, there is always another staple. So, my hopes of starting my finding aid this week were dashed, but it ended up being some great material, so I’m not complaining too much. Hidden in these boxes were loads of photographs, some with a translucent paper with crop marks and measurements. I’m imagining these were used while designing programs program or a publication. It is really cool to see material that reveals a process. You can really learn so much by something someone probably doesn’t think twice about doing.

Not only was there ephemera like this, but also a ton of fantastic photographs. I’m going to go ahead and tell you now that this post is definitely going to be photograph-heavy – just like my week was! There were so many great pictures, and here a few of my favorites:

I absolutely love these signs that set up a scene.

Notice the tiny hats around the cake. I think this picture is so incredibly fun.

Look how young and punk rock he looks!

I’m not actually sure what is happening here, but I loved these.

As you can see, there was quite a wide spectrum of photos. I was really happy to see these, as before I thought there only existed a folder’s worth of photographs, which seemed sort of strange considering the wide range of other materials. The hidden boxes solved this mystery. Since these photos spanned such a long period, these are materials that show an even more involved process- the process of Marcel Marceau himself.

By Thursday, I’d finished processing the photographs and was able to move onto what I’d planned to do earlier in the week – the art (and other oversized materials)! Every oversized package wrapped in tape, cardboard, and an oversized purple number held a new surprise. I found a lot of posters and some amazing lithographs – including one by Marcel himself (picture to come soon) and one by Al Hirschfeld.

            

And then there were the lithographs that I mentioned a few weeks ago – this wonderful limited edition book that contains a foreword by Marcel Marceau and contains 11 lithographs by Arbit Blatas. Below are a few of the amazing prints in the book. There are many different poses of him, all seeming to show off a particular attribute of him and his performances.  I particularly love the one of him in front of the mirror. It seems so tender and personal. I thoroughly enjoyed looking through these. I also found some perfect boxes for these, making me even more happy that they had a snug and secure home at the end of the day (Yes – I have to admit to getting excited about perfectly sized boxes).

                                                

                                                

So as you may be able to tell, there were a lot of new, and sometimes unexpected materials to work with, but I enjoy them and hope those who use this collection will too. After getting all of my oversized things foldered and housed, I went back to my shelves to start the housing of the video and film material. I’m giving you a before and midway photograph. It’s starting to look better. The next time you see this room, it should be pleasing to even the most obsessive eye.

                       

I’m thinking that sometime tomorrow I will be totally done with my processing and can possibly start on my finding aid. Hooray! Just in time too, as I just had my first meeting with the dance company where I will be doing my practicum – the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company. The meeting went well and I am excited about working with them. But more on that in the next post.

As always, thank you for visiting and I look forward to seeing you next time.

-Tara

PS. I’ll be leaving you with a gratuitous pet shot – as quite frankly, I’m surprised I waited this long to do so :)

Birds love archives too!

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The Week That Never Sleeps

I meant to post last week, I truly did, but it was a busy week in DHC Land. So this week, not only will you be getting an extra-long post, you’ll get two in one week! (I’m hoping to get back on my post-at-the-end-of-the-week schedule. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get crazy and post even more.

So, for some highlights of last the week,

First off, after days and days of this:                                I produced this:

Image

                      

The last staple!! (And yes, I took a picture). I didn’t quite do a dance afterward, but I definitely made a celebratory noise of some sort. And I apologize that this has been staple-centric so far,but I just couldn’t help that last picture, that pile was very impressive. However, I think it’s safe to promise that there will be no more gratuitous mentions of staples.

With my processing being completed, I felt like it was time to sit back and really think about what else I needed to do. So, Monday I sat down and came up with a tentative plan for the rest of the collection, including a series proposal, things I’d like to do (coming up with a  digitization plan for the film and videos, developing a media separation form for outdated floppy discs and data CDs), questions I needed to ask and notes about any information that needed further consideration (what to do with all of the sensitive account information, etc). I then showed this to Nena, who after a few edits and suggestions gave me the go ahead. As this is the biggest collection I’ve ever worked on, it was very satisfying to know that my ideas and inclinations are on the right track in territory that I’m not expressly familiar with. Yay for burgeoning  professional competence!  So, with a newfound vigor, I set to work labeling folders and boxes, which may sound tedious, but yields such beautiful results. See below:

                

A place for everything, everything in its place.  There is something utterly satisfying about turning a wall of varying levels of chaos into something neat, orderly, and accessible. (Though I must admit, Tony Micocci was a stellar record keeper, so there wasn’t much chaos in this collection). Processing and labeling is a wonderful, wonderful way to channel obsessiveness, for sure. I wish I would’ve taken a picture from the same angle as the unprocessed boxes so you could appreciate the difference even more. Alas, you live and you learn. Tomorrow, I’m working on the art in the collection, which of course will be great material for my next entry.

Last week also held a few meetings which I have come to really enjoy. Monday I had a lovely lunch with an Associate Curator from another one of the Special Collections at Thompson Library. It was great to learn even more about how OSU’s libraries work and I also got some golden advice about job searches and interviews. Always appreciated.

Later the same day I was able to meet with Conservation. It was pretty awesome to see the Conservation unit in action with all of their nifty tools and unbelievable materials. I have to say that while I know what conservators do (kind of), how they do it has always seemed sort of shrouded in mystery. So, it was particularly interesting to see some of the ways that they do their work and that they didn’t work out of some huge secret lab. They were all very friendly and very happy to explain their work to me. Also, it is worth mentioning here that especially for a someone about to have an MLIS, I’m fairly uninterested in books. (I know, I know, I should be ashamed.) It’s not that I don’t like them, but there are lots of them. They’re lovely and all, but ultimately they aren’t as unique as archival or special collection material. But some of the books I saw in Conservation (that I’m sure originate from the Rare Books and Manuscripts), were absolutely amazing. Particularly the book from the 1500s that was bound with a manuscript from the 1400s. (I think those were the dates, I’ll have to check to make sure.)

Drool-worthy books

I also was able to meet with the Digital Imaging Specialist. It was great seeing all of the impressive tools they have and what they do there. It was of particular interest to me as they are currently doing many of the things I will be doing when I get back home to the Ballets Russes Archive at University of Oklahoma. I was able to see some of the different things that the copy cameras are capable of and get some awesome ideas. I look forward to more contact with this department.

Overall, I must say that I have immensely enjoyed the experience of meeting all of these different people and seeing how their departments work. I feel like these are invaluable resources and something I wouldn’t have been exposed to had I not had this opportunity to come to OSU and work for the Dance Heritage Coalition. These meetings really give me so many ideas for both the work I am doing here and the work I want to do elsewhere. It’s giving me an opportunity to think much more globally when it comes to my profession and definitely instills the value of collaboration and networking.

So, while doing this, we were also preparing for our panel at the Dance Critics Association Conference in New York, New York. The session was called Don’t Throw That Away! Preserving Your Legacy as a Dance Critic. We discussed the the importance of dance critics preserving their materials and gave them advice on how to find the best repository for their materials if they should decide to donate them. It was my first presentation at a conference. Ever. And while I was nervous, it was a great experience. Things went well (with the exception of some microphonic technical difficulties) and I did not die, despite my worst fears. haha. The audience seemed interested in what we had to say, asked a lot of questions, had wonderful anecdotes, and many of them stayed afterward to talk to us and ask questions. I felt like it was definitely successful.

The rest of the conference was great. I particularly enjoyed Nancy Goldner’s session where she discussed her career as a dance writer. It was interesting to hear her stories and see how dance writing has changed immensely over the years. I also enjoyed getting an overall view of the challenges faced by dance writers and the idea of them as stakeholders and audience. They are a passionate group of people and that is always wonderful to see.

And omg, New York! I started the beginning of the weekend thinking I needed to see as much as I could since I probably wouldn’t be returning anytime soon and left Sunday knowing I needed to come back as soon as I got a chance to see even more. In my brief time there, I must say, I think I can see why people get so fanatical about New York. It’s got an amazing energy and has the power to transform. There was something undeniably awesome about it. I ate wonderful food, got caught in Central Park in the rain, saw the rain-kissed streets at night, tottered my way on and off subways, and thoroughly enjoyed my time there.

I knew I couldn’t be in NY and not see at least one performance. One of the other fellows, Nichole from NYPL, told me about a burlesque performance in Brooklyn called the Floating Kabarette. The host was ridiculously hilarious, the acts were either delightfully funny, jaw-droppingly spectacular, or undeniably sexy, and sometimes a combination of any of these attributes. The space was beautiful and I left the place buzzing. As far as performances go, it was right up my alley and a wonderful show to be my first NY experience. If you ever get a chance, you should definitely, definitely go. And kudos to Nichole for such a great recommendation!

And speaking of other fellows, I think it should be mentioned how nice it was to see (nearly) everyone again. Especially as I haven’t been home in a month, it was wonderful to see familiar faces again. Irlanda and Penny were greatly missed and I look forward to seeing everyone again at SAA in August.

So, as promised, here is your extra-long post. And it has been wonderful having you, especially if you stayed until now :)

Until next time,

Tara

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Staples and other things

Hello again,

I am rounding out my second week at TRI and must say that I’m enjoying it even more than the first week. Mostly because of getting more accustomed to a place makes me feel more at ease. Everyone has been warm and welcoming, so the transition was easy. What have I been doing?

Well for a few days this:

I <3 microspatulas

Staple (and other accouterments) removal!

While it doesn’t sound all that exciting (especially to anyone who actually has done it), I have actually enjoyed it as it gives me a chance to really see the materials in the Marcel Marceau collection. The collection was created by his agent, who was incidentally an amazing record keeper. He created files for every stop Marceau made on his American (and some international) tours. These files contain everything from performance contracts, copies of programs, tickets, correspondence, press releases, reviews, awards, and other such things. And while staple removal may seem tedious, it was definitely a hands-on way to get acquainted with the collection. And just for the record, I’m pretty sure I am going to remove my last staple later today. I might have to do a celebratory dance in the processing room.

Some of the materials found in an event folder

As I realized that I was nearly done with the paper materials in the collection, I went and took a further look at the other mysteries waiting on the shelves. I found out that what I had first thought was a scrapbook was actually an impressive book of lithographs. I’m honestly going to just give a teaser here, because really, these things deserve their own posts entirely. Also tucked away was an impressive roll of 35mm film. You could never blame this collection for being uninteresting.

So after having an even better idea of the collection, I’ve decided on a series and am hoping to set to work on the finding aid next week. I also think I’m going to make one of my first big professional purchases and invest in Filemaker Pro for my own computer, especially as I found out for sure that you can export Filemaker databases into Excel (and vice versa), making it seem like the ideal program for me right now.

But enough of that jargon talk. Like last week, I haven’t been only doing processing. Early in the week I visited Tamar and company and the University Archives. It was a really great visit, and it was interesting to see the differences between special collection and archival practices. Tamar also gave me some records retention guidelines that I’m sure will be incredibly helpful once I start my practicum with the Kristina Isabelle Dance Company. Another highlight of the trip was getting to see the book depository here at Ohio State. It is huge, awe-inspiring, and really deserves its own post with pictures. I’ve been welcomed back to snap a few shots, so I’ll expand on this more at a later date.

I also had the chance to shadow Nena while she got things ready for a Fall exhibition coming up. It’s interesting to see how every endeavor is very involved and requires a lot of steps. In this case, deciding on the material, pulling it, photographing it, changing its location in a database, sending items to a conservator to be mended or framed, and even deciding on a title for the exhibition itself. It was a delight to see the chosen materials. I’m sad I won’t be here to see it in completion.

Looking through the materials with the conservator

I also was witness to the collection delivery process, which in some ways is just as exciting as it sounds. After a date and time zone confusion, we finally received the new collection. It was from a designer in NYC. The best part of this whole process was getting to open the boxes to check the items. There’s something undeniably fun at getting to look at someone else’s things (which is probably why I chose this field), and since TRI collects such a wide range of materials, it’s always exciting to see what mysteries await. In this case: costume design bibles, masks, hats, a blown-off foot prop (I’m not kidding), and other unique materials. I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures but I’m actively working on documenting these things more readily. So yeah, I found something to be excited about with a delivery. lol

So, my second week has been great. I’m particularly excited about seeing all these different facets of the information field. It truly is making me even more excited about entering this world professionally. Even the ‘boring’ stuff, which makes me feel like I’ve definitely chosen the right field. I really feel lucky to have a chance to work with such intriguing material and such friendly and motivated people.

Well, I’m off to the processing room to remove that last staple.

-Tara

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And so it begins..

It’s nearing the end of my first week at the Theatre Research Institute and it is already proving to be a great experience. After the week in DC, I was even more excited about my time at TRI. I made my way from Oklahoma to Columbus, finally arriving around 3 in the morning on Monday.

Nena picked me up Monday afternoon, finding me tired and sniffling with the cold I had developed. I quickly, however, forgot my sorry state as soon as we arrived at OSU. The campus here is beautiful (and incredibly huge). And very quickly we came upon my favorite place so far – the Thompson Library.

The Thompson Library at Ohio State University

As you can see, this library is quite a sight. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by 5 students performing a movement piece on the stairs. It was a very fitting way to start my fellowship assignment.

Throughout the rest of the day I was given a tour of the stacks, met more people than I can ever hope to remember their names, shown around Columbus, and talked with Nena to decide which collection I’d be working on. Which is…..

The Marcel Marceau Collection! The Francophile in me squeals with delight. I was looking forward to whatever collection I worked with – but I’m already quite taken with this collection. And first thing on Tuesday morning, I set up camp in the stacks to see what gems were in this collection. Here were my first impressions:

The wall of moving images           The boxes of mystery

I wish I could get a full-on picture of the Marceau wall, but the compact shelving doesn’t allow for very wide shots. There is more material, and I’ll be photo-documenting that later this afternoon. The creator of this collection, Marceau’s American agent, also sent an awesome detailed list of what the collection contains (Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!) However, the bulk of the boxes you see pictured above were simply labeled “Activity Files”. So I spent the next day going through these files, finding out what exactly was in these files. Turns out – an array of different materials. Programs, contracts, photographs, postcards, books, a coffee cup, negatives, faxes, correspondence, teaching materials, videotapes, cds, etc etc.

A box of activity files

One of these things is nearly obsolete.

I haven’t just been spending my time in the depths of the stacks though. I’ve also had the opportunity to tag along with Nena to a number of places. One exciting thing in particular was a meeting of the Special Collections Forum – a group consisting of members from all of the special collections and archives on campus who come together to talk bout different topics and issues concerning special collections and their ideas for solutions or collaboration. It really is amazing to see how the different collections and departments at OSU’s libraries work together to articulate and address things that will ultimately serve to make the entire institution be the best it can be.

Another point of interest was the visit to the remote storage facility yesterday. As the archive I work at is incredibly small, we have no need for offsite storage. So, in this really dorky way – it was actually really cool to see how these facilities can work. It was interesting to see the advantages, disadvantages, and logistics of this remote storage.

So, to sum this up: My assignment has been great so far. I have met a lot of friendly people and am getting to see parts of the archival profession I haven’t seen yet. I’m enjoying working on my collection and having these new experiences. Columbus is great so far and I’m looking forward to the weekend so I can explore more of it.

Until next time, dear reader.

-Tara

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