Monday, August 3, 2015

Days 22 & 23: The End!?

Days 22 & 23

Nicolle Brossard
I continued working on the finding aid for the Nicolle Brossard Collection. As this was not a collection that I wrote up or processed myself, I found myself double-checking some of the inventory, just to make sure it was where it was supposed to be.The volunteer who had typed it up (but was no longer there) was actually out of the military so he used terminology I would not have or thought to have. His descriptions were a bit more detailed also, knowing what was "government issue" versus what was commercially made but could be worn instead of or underneath. His descriptions of the boots were far more detailed as he knew what each was called whereas I would have said black boots or boots with camouflage pattern. Beth Ann chuckled at the level of detail that was going to be in this particular finding aid.

One of the best ways to learn something is to make a mistake. In this case I discovered I made an error in the hierarchy construction of the finding aid. As a box could hold multiple folders of different series, I had constructed them as: box, series1, folder1 of series1, series2, folder1 of series2, folder2 of series2. However, intellectual constructs go before the physical ones and so should read: Series1, box1,folder1 of series1; series2, box1,folder 1 of series2. This makes sense when one considers that some items in a series may be in other boxes because of size and type. It was not hard making the corrections (so I learned some new abilities of working in Archon), but I realized I would have to go back to make corrections to the Rachel Brune collection which was quite sizable and the Westray Battle Boyce collection. The first finding aid I did was of a smaller and relatively uncomplicated collection, Thelma L. Meyer Petty Papers, and so it was not broken down into a series format.

Unfortunately, it did mean I would not have time to write up the finding aid for Frances Stanley Trembath, although all the preliminary work was done and could probably be knocked out relatively quickly.

While the other collections had some works that were to be digitized, the Nicolle Brossard collection had items that had already been digitized which meant coming up with the proper place and way to notate that. I think this may be Archon's biggest weakness. It's good for creating finding aids for physical collections and even one or two links to outside resources. But, dealing with digital items and physical items with digital versions, it is not very intuitive as to the proper way of handling it.

The End
These were my final days. My background is in digitizing materials. So, I desired to get more hands-on experience as opposed to digital processing. In this, the Practicum was a success. In doing research and creating finding aids, I still used my computer skills, but I got to do more than that. I enjoyed the research angles, trying to find and build the stories of the people whose collections I was handling. In that regard, I enjoyed the basic work environment of working in an institution as opposed to a more corporate environment. I was expected to learn and explore a bit.

I could not but help but think again of the difference the internet has made in jobs like this. By the end, I had learned quite a bit about the history of the university, of the WAAC, WAC, and even some of my own state history. In the past, the person handling these collections would need to be fairly knowledgeable in those areas as well as the military already. Or else, identifications of the patches, medals, and people in the photographs known only by their married last name, that would be all that would be in the record. We would not even have dates of deaths or married names if not for the ability to search records and databases online. Plus, the work I did added to that well of information.

When I think about 120 hours equating to the first three weeks of training at a full-time job, I have to admit to being pleased at the amount of work that I accomplished and all that I learned. Especially when factored in that it was broken up by two 5 hour shifts a week which gives a lot of time to forget what happened the week before.

The finding aids I worked on can be found at:
Rachel Ann Brune Papers
Westray Battle Boyce Papers
Thelma L. Meyer Petty Papers
Nicolle M. Brossard Collection

The Future?
I have one last semester to go. Just because the Practicum has come to an end, it does not mean the necessary end of this blog...