It. Is. Done.
I’m really proud of the work I’ve done and the schedule I’ve maintained. I worked 16 hours a week in the archive on top of a full-time job. I had the advantage of my full-time job also being on campus but it was still hard to maintain. After all is said and done, I still have my sanity and all of my limbs.
This week Dr. Truesdell and I talked about what I’ve accomplished and what I need improvement on. For the most part, my work was stellar, save for minor grammatical errors here and there- which should not be taken lightly BUT they are easy to fix.
I didn’t wreck any projects and I completed what I set out to do- assist Dr. Truesdell in her work, learn about my chosen profession, and maintain my sanity.
Check. Check. Check.
Until next time! Except not. That’s a lie, there will be no next time.
The end is finally within reach right when I’m starting to feel pretty confident and comfortable with my contributions to the archive. There was not much to report from this week.
I worked on finding aids again. I revised, edited, and rearranged content. Spent some time revising the digitization instruction manuals, reviewed the notes from our MCO/MDPI meetings, and finalized the finding aid for the Ostrom project. It’s not ready to go live just yet but the work I was tasked with is done.
Next week is my last week in the archive and my last week in Bloomington! After next week my partner and I will head to Idaho to start a new adventure!
Let’s rewind to last week. I worked with several different transcripts to update their finding aids, and I made quite the mess. So this week was a lesson in cleaning up AND appreciating storage space in archives.
The transcripts in the archive are all housed in vertical filing cabinets, one archival quality folder per transcript. And right now there’s plenty of room BUT they still take up a lot of space on a campus with departments, faculty, staff, and student constantly competing for space.
In between working on the Ostrom project and the IU Orla History Archive project, I’ve tackled some small issues with other finding aids. Everything from alphabetizing interview lists to rewriting scope and content notes. In doing this, one thing I’ve noticed is just how different Bloomington was as recently as the 1960s
For example, in an interview with a then new faculty member in the 1960s, the interviewee noted when they arrived in town there were lots of signs outside of houses that read, “For Sale- Modern House.” The new faculty member was coming from the West Coast where the term modern house meant a particular architectural style so when seeing common, ordianry houses in Bloomington described as “modern” they were rightly confused. A fellow faculty member let them in on the secret- “modern” in Bloomington meant the house had indoor plumbing, nothing at all to do with style!
There are countless anecdotes like this in the archive about the shock of coming to Bloomington from much larger cities. However, most of these interviewed went on to stay in Bloomington and commented about the beauty and tranquility present both on campus and in town.
Continued work on the Ostrom Project this week. Reading through the interview transcripts is equal parts tedious and enlightening. I had no idea about either Elinor or Vincent Ostrom so to read about their work, their impact on their field and IU is quite astonishing. Sometimes I forget just how big and expensive the research done at IU really is.
This week I was able to attend a meeting with Dr. Truesdell for MCO/MDPI training. As more and more audio files of the interviews are digitized, the archive has to go through them and decide which one’s can be published on the public facing side and what (if any) restrictions those audio files might have. For example, many of the transcripts are edited by the interviewee- for clarity, to correct mistakes, or to simply make things not public. In these cases, we have a written note that researchers and users of the archive can only quote or use parts of the transcripts that have been approved by the interviewee. However, with the audio file this is much harder. If there are redactions in the audio file, how does the archive limit access to the corrected interview while still allowing access to the audio? It’s a hard question to answer but thankfully the archives and libraries on campus have legal counsel to turn to
Back, back, back again. After making such good progress on the “IU Oral History Archive”, Dr. Truesdell assigned me the task of creating the finding aid for an unpublished project. This project was a series of interviews which were part of a larger dissertation research. They focused on the life and work of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom and their work at IU. The interviews were closed to public access until 2017 but with backlogs and other priorities they haven’t been made available. To create the finding aid I used an XML template created by Dr. Truesdell, then I read each interview, made scope and content notes, and filled in search terms and keywords.
Before starting on this finding aid, I was completely unfamiliar with the work of the Ostroms. Come to find out, Elinor Ostrom was the first (and currently only) female receive the Nobel Prize in Economics Sciences for her work her analysis and work on the commons. I’d like to say I learned more about their work from the interviews but what I read I did not completely understand but I do know that they made major contributions to the field of economics
Another week, another opportunity for growth, reflection, and [insert inspirational word that fits]. This week saw more of the same- working on finding aids, working on instruction manuals. BUT we had a patron request, and it tugged real hard on the ol’ heartstrings.
For privacy reasons I won’t reveal the names of the patron or the interviews they requested but we had a patron contact us on Wednesday to inquire about obtaining copies of an interview her grandfather gave in the 1970s. She wanted digital copies of the transcript as well as the audio. Nothing too crazy there, pretty common request. HOWEVER. This was a gift for her father for Fathers Day. You might be saying, “Well, Todd, that’s sweet but my heartstrings are not being pulled.” Her father hadn’t heard his father’s voice since he passed away several years ago!
I know it’s cliche to say something like “And THAT is why we do what we do,” but honestly, it is. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that interaction or that patron request but I will forget the patrons looking for research materials.
Five weeks down, 20 days, 76 hours. I’ve learned a lot so far and made a couple of mistakes but overall I’m doing really well AND my supervisor, Dr. Truesdell, thinks the same- or at least that’s what she told me. I’ll take it.
Guess what I did this week? Dreaded the week? You guessed it! But, no, that’s not what I meant. I meant guess what I did at my internship. And that answer is: xml fun! I did more editing and revising to the finding aid I’ve been working on, and Dr. Truesdell gave me some minor edits to make on other finding aids. Mostly they were just structural issues in the finding aid, such as spacing between some words, line breaks, and rearranging sections.
I feel like I’m actually contributing to the work being done in the archive, which is both refreshing and terrifying. What if I make a major mistake? Or what if I let Dr Truesdell down? So many what ifs? Tune in next week to find out what happens.
The week started with Memorial Day so this was a shorter week. Again, I spent quite a bit of time working on the finding aid I’ve mentioned several times now but we also has a patron request come through for an interview transcript and the accompanying audio files. The archive doesn’t field a large amount of patron requests but we attempt to be prompt and as helpful as possible when one does come through. Dr. Truesdell fielded the phone call and was going to show me the process for downloading and uploading the appropriate files but the patron never got back in touch to finalize their order.
A short week but I’m gaining a lot of insight into how archives, especially smaller ones operate and function on a daily basis.
And we’re back. Welcome back. This week was settling into routine and doing detailed work. I spent most of my time editing the finding aid for “IU Oral History Archive”. Most of my editing is just grammatical errors, spacing issues, and reordering content but I did add a large chunk of interviews to the finding aid. Although these interviews were findable in other ways, adding them to the finding aid makes searching far easier.
Other than working with the finding aid, I added to and tweaked the instruction manuals for the Transcript Digitization Project.