Gremlin Work (week 5)

Hello all, thank you again for taking the time to read my internship blog. I really appreciate all the support, and please continue to leave comments and share with others that will find my experiences interesting.

This entry I am going to focus on a less noteworthy portion of archival work, becuase it is something that is equaly important to the archives. Also, it is the kind of work that I did the most of this past week. This being, the tedious work involved with archives.

When thinking about archives, most focus on the preservation of great historical materials, or helping present those materials in fun and exciting ways. However, this is not always what the work of an archivist entials. A lot of the time it can be very tedious and require a lot of individual time spent behind a computer doing the same task at nauseum. This kind of work is what I have heard some of my colleagues refer to as “gremlin” work. The kind of tedious work that few people have the patience to do because it seems so mindless.

Now where doing this “gremlin” work seems daunting to most, it fits my personality quiet well and is one of the reasons I decided I could go into this field. I am a rather patient person, and I find repetitive tasks very rewarding to finish and soothing to do this kind of work.

There are a lot of different forms this “gremlin” work can take place. This past week, for me, it meant boxing film and scanning. Starting with the film, the Marine Corps archrives has several hundred films that are on legacy (out of date) media and are not easy for the archives to use. To counteract a collection that is growing into disuse there is a partnership that was created with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to digitize the film so they can be easily accessible in perpatuity. To prepare the next shipment to UNC to required us to pack boxes with film and then inventory the films as the go into the box. This work is very time consuming and took several hours from our day and we did not even complete the project. For some people this can be discouraging, but we were glad to make any headway on the project at all.

The next piece of “gremlin” work that took up a lot of me time was scanning photographs. The collection I was scanning was that of Holland M. Smith, who was one of the chief commanding officers over the attack on Iwo Jima and the capture of Mt. Suribachi (where the famous flag raising took place). Some of these pictures are interesting, but most of them are not, and since Smith was an important person he has a large collection of photos. This will be a project that will last in some form for most of the rest of summer. One day last week I spent nearly 8 hours scanning and barely made a dent. When people are afraid of everything becoming digital, this is one of the things in the way of that, the time, energy, and resources to digitize things. An archives normal daily tasks can take a lot of time and tasks like digitizing documents tend to be put on the back burner. As long as someone can access the materials it is still usable.

Thank you again for taking the time to read my post. I really appreciate it, and I look forward to sharing more with you as the semester goes on.

Published by mddarlin

Just a Library School student from Indiana University, Bloomington trying to become a professional archivist.

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  1. I could do this for a little while, but not for long hours in a day. I imagine you get to see some interesting photos. I hope you are content and happy with what you are accomplishing.

    1. I am very pleased with the work I have been doing. Thank you! It definetly not for everybody.

  2. I can easily picture you being content with the “gremlin” work, and that is a needed, good characteristic! Some day those digitized films will be of ease to history students and military families.

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