So it turns out most of the digital collections work I did today may have been in vain. I won’t bore you with the intimate details, but sometimes it happens that way. Sigh.
What was good about today was book day here at the library. Published authors talked about their process, inspiration, frustrations, etc. It was cool to see the different types of work that can be done, textbooks, non-fiction, and fiction. It made me realize this writing dream isn’t really too far-fetched. I may not be Faulkner, but I can just write for the sake of feeling slightly creative and see where it goes. My brainstreams blog is a good start. But I want to start some short story work, I kind of did that last night about my public library patron arch nemesis. Which I will just try to do more observation work on these tech center crazies, and pass the time that way. If nothing else, this whole movement made me attempt to clean up my laptop, which was on otherwise expensive paperweight thanks to ex jerk #1..
I have my great-grandmother’s and grandfather’s novel drafts that are burining a hole in my pocket at the moment.. I can’t believe my mom was just going to throw them away when she moved. I have been meaning to digitize them first to keep them safe lest any fire break out or whatever, but if I wanted to edit them I would have to convert to word using OCR tech and I don’t have that. A long time ago, I was bored and tried starting to transcribe them into word, but that takes a long time. I still might do it. Now I have time on my hands. I realized I haven’t even really read either of them all the way through I don’t want to say if they are “good” or “bad” I don’t want to judge them I want them to just be what they are.. I wonder if I should lightly edit, and try to get them published. I don’t know legally how that works if they are both long dead?
At the same time, I was kind of playing with the idea of going back to school for a PHD in history. This is a long shot dream, but now that I’m thinking of Keren’s book (the other Keren) maybe focusing on prostitution and the comstock lode, the Nevada area, etc. This could be something coming together in my brain. After all I have connections to the area as well, so If I have to go up to research I am familiar. This means I’ll get more degrees (yay!) But also more debt (boo) but also more writing (yay) and also more research (yay) but where is there time for all of this? It’s all just ideas right now. But I have to move forward on them before I get lazy and old and disconnected from any creativity I may have left.
There’s possibility out there I guess I just have to find it.
It’s my birthday!!! YES what better way to celebrate with some reference questions and scanning in the archives. Really though I had fun doing it. Especially when I came across a folder of correspondence from good old Ruth Frantz. Sometimes when you are just looking at handwritten correspondence for hours you kind of just tune it out, don’t really read it, rock out on your music instead. The something catches your eye.
It was something like this:
P.S. I wonder how many stamps it will take to mail this manuscript.
Hahahahahaha I was cracking up so hard. Why on earth would you write that? It’s like just thinking out loud at the recipient for no reason. It reminds me of writing notes in high school that went something like this:
I’m so bored, 10 more minutes. I am so tired. Don’t you think Jake is cute? Ouch I just stubbed my toe.
All those things that really don’t need to be in the letter but remind you it was probably written by somebody with a relatively short attention span.
Either way in the very same letter I read about a young lady who married a French man who worked at a printing press. He lost his entire right hand in an accident and was offered either 15,000$ up front or 100$ a month for the duration of his employment at the press. WOW. That sucks. I can’t help but think of what it would be like if I lost my hand while looking up scholarly research articles, and how much I would miss it. Sometimes I think I could construct an entire universe of these characters. Although I’m not sure how interesting that would be. I think that’s why I like archives and histories. I like stories. And truth is so often much stranger than fiction, however cliche that sounds.
Back in the summer one of the student workers that was helping me found a folder of letters from a man whose wife was dying of cancer. Like a month after her death he was already writing about his new marriage, and how this new wife got him through the troubled times watching his other wife die. Old Tyme scandals. I tried not to judge but was like offended by how fast he moved on. We read them aloud to each other in old tyme voices and it was so amusing. Men, just can’t be alone, no matter what historical period.
And now it’s a 3 day weekend. Signing off…
So, yesterday was a long one… Still spring break and very quiet around here. I spent most of my day uploading digital files to content DM, and really, sometimes at the end of the day you just don’t have any brainpower left. That is when you get astounding metadata such as this:
Yeah it was lazy of me, but the purpose of this digital collection is to get the items ONLINE and ACCESSIBLE. Mainly for an archivist at a sister school who wanted us to send our actual boxes to them (yeah right). Shallow metadata, and let’s get it out there ASAP. Still sort of pains me though, wish I had all the time in the world to do this right, it will probably have to be re-done in years to come. (that miscellaneous category tho) That may be a problem with most libraries, do the bare bones of what you can and get it out there, and then go back and fix (or not fix?) Everything later. Maybe not the best way to operate, but I think a lot of things in this world hang on solely by a thread. Libraries and archives being one of them.
On a side note. I’m trying to learn how to create an LCC call out of my own brain. And doing so by reading a “fundamental” training guide published by the LOC, which by the way is 400+pages. Original cataloging is a lost art, and one I’m really wild about, but this is going to take me some time. I’m stoked to try my hand at some special collections items. I can Dewey relatively well, but this is a whole new world. Ever notice that In DCC library science is listed at the beginning 020, while LCC puts it last in Z? What’s the deal with that? Are academics saying the people organizing their information aren’t important? Why isn’t it with the “real” sciences? I’m going to guess only about 2% of the world will think this is an interesting thought. (Sigh)
Well I don’t think I’ll get many questions from students today, staff wise it’s a ghost town anyways. Kind of just messing around and getting as much done on this Gladdys collection done. After scanning and uploading about 8000 digital items I’m really feeling like I’m getting to know this lady. Hell, I’ve read excerpts from her childhood dairies that’s pretty personal. I wonder if in the early 1900s as she sat writing these that a space age lady would be making her materials public for research via this thing called the interwebz, it almost sounds like some sort of evil nightmare. Maybe it is, but she donated them so…… I like to think she would be happy, and honored, but you can’t really ask the deceased these things so we plug on.
So why am I doing this? Every time I tell somebody what I do, they ask me, do people still go to libraries? Do you think we need libraries, can’t people just Google it? What exactly do you do tell people to be quiet all day long? Do people actually still read books, won’t everything be digital in another couple of years? Why? AH! It’s annoying. Even at both of my jobs I have to keep stats, questions answered, instruction sessions taught. It’s like I am constantly justifying my existence as a librarian, and as to WHY and how libraries serve their patron base. So this is mainly for me, to remind myself. What DO I do on a daily basis? Is my existence really justified? I’ll start with a background…
I’m 32, and just starting out really in the field. Like every other good librarian I dragged my butt through a grad program, came out on the other end with a mountain of debt and shiny happy hopes and dreams for the future of information services. I have been a reference assistant for 2 1/2 years at a public library, and a reference and instruction librarian at a private college for a little over 1 year now. So, I run into a great mix of people, and questions that range from.. “what is my email password?” to “I am researching the use of pornographic materials in married couples”. I mean, each day I learn something new, which is great. But some days, especially on the public side, I have all but lost faith in humanity all together. So this is just kind of a journey. And it’s not just about a profession, it’s about a lot of things, people, manners, technology, public spaces, education, etc. Hopefully by logging this all I can determine if I really made the right choice here, and if librarians really do make a difference.