Alright, I admit it. I am horrible at posting monthly. 😶
It's been a busy two months since the last update. I've been attacked by 3 spiders in the apartment, 1 in the car, and 1 on the sidewalk. Yikes! I also hosted two events, led one instruction session, and ended two rotations at work. Lots of work but it was all worth it.
This month, let's start with the end … the end of two rotations. Year 1 of my residency was always intended to be rotation-based. One of the first things I did was select 3 departments to spend time in this year. Early on, the decision was made - for various reasons - for me to work in two of them at the same time. Thus, I ended up in Collections & Technical Services in the mornings and Special Collections in the afternoons. That meant 8 months in those departments … for half-days. Those 8 months have now passed and I've been a part of Data Services for the last week. Of course, I'm not 100% divested of my work in either CTS or Special Collections. Here's how things stand:
Design work on Albatross ⸮the impossible database⸮ is done. I'll still be attending development meetings, though, and helping to write the initial SQL queries. This all makes sense. Since I'm still around, it really doesn't make sense that I would leave the project at this stage of development. Once data is loaded, I will help generate initial queries and design any structural changes that may reveal themselves as necessary.
I finished the migration of Archivision into SharedShelf. Sadly, I can't show that off since those collections are restricted to Virginia Tech users only. The Art & Architecture collection has also made its way into SharedShelf but I haven't finished (started) the application profile for it yet. It's simple documentation of the metadata structure in use. It will only take about two days to do - I just haven't had the time yet. So, that will be done soon and then I'll be finished with that project.
The consultation work with the Alumni Museum is basically done. Laurel was the lead on this and did most of the work but I helped brainstorm and select new images for the displays. The displays were changed out while I was on a trip to Iowa, so I haven't seen them yet but the museum people seem happy. The last thing for this project was creating a recommendation document for the museum staff. We put some exhibit æsthetic design and physical maintenance suggestions together and they are on the way to the museum.
The theatrical collection I was processing is mostly done. I finished the physical organization 🎉 and I have all my background research together. The newspaper clippings that were damaging the playbills have all been scanned and removed. I still have a few (≅150) scanned images to title. I also need to write up my finding aid so that people can start using the collection. Still, the amount of work I got done on this collection amidst everything else I've been working on was satisfying. I'll be posting some collection highlights on the Special Collections blog next week.
That brings me to a beginning … the beginning of my new rotation in Data Services. Don't ask me what they do - yet. I'll be happy to tell you later. I've been in the department for one week. I know they consult on data management plans, curate, and make available data sets. Beyond that, I will learn. To start out - and as my project during my 4 month rotation - I will be getting a handle on the services offered by Data Services. I will be working on creating a web presence for the team on the library's Intranet site and the library's Internet site. I will also be working with the Data Curator to document current data curation processes, create a framework for documenting new processes in the future, and optimize user help documentation for the data curation services. So, I will have things to share in this area - but not yet.
Rotation is, of course, only a small part of what I've been doing over the last two months. I completed the first two levels of diversity training offered by the HR Diversity Development Institute. I should be receiving my official Ally and Advocate certificates later this year. I'm thinking I may be able to do the Ambassador level before I'm done here.
I also taught my first SafeZone 101 course. The SafeZone program educates people about the LGBTQ+ community. SafeZone 101 is the first required course toward SafeZone certification. It covers basic things like terminology and learning to empathize with another's perspective. My first session went well and I hope to do more soon. I'm also beginning development on a new session to add to the mix - on evaluating messages about LGBTQ+ people in the media.
I traveled to Iowa City for an institute at the University of Iowa - where I got to reconnect with the rest of my residency cohort and learn about the wonderful wide world of academic publishing. It was a great few days with the added bonus that Phillip was able to drive down from the Twin Cities and visit me and I got to see my older brother and two of his kids.
I organized two events for the Latino Americans grant (with the help of a great team!). The first was a video screening/lecture event. It was attended by about 11 people and there was great discussion. The second was our closing event: a cultural celebration featuring food from a local Latino-owned restaurant, music from a local band, and lots of room to dance. We played the documentary on the wall behind the band and the Latino American Student Organization (LASO) asked attendees to help support their fundraising efforts on behalf of Ecuador earthquake victims. It was a great time! About 70 people showed up - we didn't get photo releases, so I'm limited in the photos I can share online, but here are a few:
As always, there is so much I could talk about and expand upon. I'll try to do smaller more regular posts going forward. I don't know if it will work - but I'll try. 😉
Somehow February has passed and I'm just now getting to a blog post. The month of February brought a post-Valentines snow day, a slow recovery from the cold I caught in January, a loss of news coverage in favor of political coverage, and some progress at work. Oh... and February spiders = 1. Only one. One lethargic early "spring" spider. I expect his compatriots to launch a full-scale invasion within the next few months.
In Collections and Technical Services, I've continued making revisions and refinements to the design of our new electronic journal review database "Albatross". If you are unaware, we've named our database after a metaphor about a seafaring bird that symbolizes a weight of psychological pressure becoming a curse that prevents success. It's a bit of a joke, I guess. See The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge for the original story that spawned the metaphor.
In addition to dealing with birds around my neck, I've begun working on migrating some image collections from their current home -- a system called MDID -- to Artstor's Shared Shelf product. I'm currently moving the Archivision collection which doesn't actually take much brain power. It's a standard collection, so Artstor was able to supply us with the metadata. We just upload the metadata records and then upload the images and voilà! it's all done. So far, I'm half-way through migrating the first of 10 collections and I've been at it for almost a week. Uploading takes time. Once I'm done with Archivision, I'm will be working on documenting our application of the standard metadata schema for the images in our Art and Architecture image collection. We currently use a modified version of VRA Core 3.0. I'm going to be ensuring that our custom application of the standard has been documented. I'll also be making sure that our current metadata functions as smoothly as possible within the new system. I'm sure it sounds boring to many of you but I'm thrilled to be doing this work! I really enjoy digging in to work with metadata!
My work for Special Collections has gained some attention. The Virginia Tech LGBTQ Oral History Project was nominated for the President's Principles of Community Award. This project is the one that I helped index oral histories and curate a physical exhibit for back in October. All of the faculty involved in the project were nominated for the award as a group. Pretty cool to be nominated!
I'm also working with a really cool collection of theatre playbills and other theatrical materials. This is the first collection of any size that I'm processing. I've already surveyed what there is and come up with a general plan of how things should be organized. There was minimal organization in the collection when I first looked at it and I'm keeping that and adding a little bit more. The collection itself covers a time period of about 100 years from 1890 through about 1980. It has lots of playbills and programs from New York, DC, Chicago, San Diego, and Charlottesville, VA.
There are also items from around the world, including Japan, Poland, England, South Africa, and Israel. There are things related to early motion pictures (talkies!), theatre, opera, orchestral concerts, ballet, kabuki, puppet theatre, and circuses. I have been having a blast!!
Outside my departmental work, I've been collaborating with the Association of College Research Libraries (ACRL) Residency Interest Group (RIG) to determine how to reorganize and redesign the group's website. I recently submitted a proposal for a research grant with colleagues from West Virginia University and the University of Iowa. I'm working on preparing a poster presentation for an upcoming conference with a colleague from American University. And, I'm one of the judges for the Adult category (as opposed to the Youth category) of the Virginia Library Association (VLA) Graphic Novel Diversity Award. This is the first year for this award and I'm one of three judges for my category. So, I'll be reading the nominees over the next few months - but I won't be sharing my opinion of them. You'll just have to wait until October to learn who wins the award.
That's it for now. I may post again in March since this was supposed to be a February update. Or, I may wait to post until April. We'll see what I have time for. Hopefully, it's clear that my days are full of fun and interesting things.
Well, it's January! I've had a bit of a motivation block for writing on the blog. Mostly, I think it's because Phillip was here and I was trying to maximize the time we got to spend together. Plus, there were some holiday travels and a break from work. So, here I am halfway through January and I haven't posted a real update since November! Well, here goes...
First, the spider war continues! As one would imagine, the fighting has died down a little since the weather has turned cold but I still had to use Spiderbane (my boot) to eliminate an enemy combatant while Phillip and I were putting up curtains in the bedroom. I hope that will be the last incursion before spring. 🕷+👢= I win!
I met with a group of residents from other institutions to create a proposal for a panel discussion at the upcoming Diversity in Libraries Conference. This conference is happening in Los Angeles in June. Our group of potential panelists includes me and residents from American University, The Ohio State University, University of Utah, and Towson University. Hopefully, our proposal will be approved and we will head to UCLA this summer to talk about the meaning of diversity in residency positions like ours. I also hear I've been submitted as a panelist on another panel proposal. Not sure what the exact topic of that panel is but I'll be at the conference, so I can join the panel if it's approved.
A group of us from the library submitted a proposal to host the exhibit Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness. This exhibit was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine and is being toured by the American Library Association's Public Programs Office. We completed an application and were selected as one of only two sites in Virginia to host the exhibit. We will have the exhibit in September and are planning lots of programs to coincide with its visit.
It's December! It's a full 12 days after I normally get my blog post up! What am I going to do‽‽‽
Well, since my last post, I attended the LITA Forum in Minneapolis, continued with my diversity training classes, started loading data into the database I've been building, wrote some finding aids for small collections in Special Collections, and started working on a couple Python scripts to work with large data sets.
More on some of that in January. For now, how about something a bit meta? This blog post will be a blog post of blog posts!
Here are two blog posts I guest authored this year for other blogs:
LITA Blog, February 10, 2015: ALA Midwinter 2015 LITA Preconference Review: Introduction to Practical Programming
SAA SNAP Blog, December 15, 2015: Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) 2015 Forum Recap
See you all in 2016!
It's a week since Halloween and I have a giant bowl of post-Halloween discount candy under my Nightmare Before Christmas tree at home. The bowl is filled with various mini-chocolate bars and a few fruit-flavored candies. The biggest problem with a variety of Halloween candy is that I want it all. I just can't choose one. The same could be said of my time as a resident. There are so many options and there's so much to learn and I want to do it all now!
In the last month, I got to see people enjoy an exhibit I worked on, put together a framework for working as a liaison librarian, attended 3 diversity courses and a SafeZone course, went to the Virginia Library Association conference, continued working on things for the Serials and Acquisitions groups, took my first shift on the Special Collections Reference Desk, had my introduction to Archivists Toolkit, and more.
I'm still struggling with the feeling that I'm not getting enough done. It's silly, though. This first year is supposed to be all about me learning about the three areas I've picked. It's like an introductory course. I'm supposed to learn what's there so I can decided where I think I fit. I'm only three months in. It's way too early to be concerned over what I've done or not done. I still have until May to work with both Collections and Technical Services and Special Collections. Then I have the summer to work with Data Curation. All of that comes before I really dig in and get stuff going. That said, there's already a lot going on in my first three months.
Wow! Almost a month since my last post! Where did the time go … and simultaneously how am I only two months into my residency‽
Over the past month, I managed to get pictures on my walls and put up some lovely cabinets for my “library” at home. I think the yellow really makes the room inviting. The number of spiders in the apartment has, thankfully, gone down and I’ve learned to use the glass range to successfully heat up food! I also got a year older. Who knew I could age an entire year in a month? :-P
Collections and Technical Services
At work, I’m continuing with divided days. In Collections and Technical Services, we finalized an Entity Relationship Diagram (ERD) for Albatross (the database we’re building) and a test version is currently being built. My immediate daily work on Albatross has died down a little, so I’m expanding my exploration of the department:
In Special Collections, we’ve reached exhibit week. Sharing Our Voices: A Celebration of the Virginia Tech LGBTQ Oral History Project is this weekend. Some of the things included are: A display with seating allowing access to the online oral histories, selected books from the library collections, and a case with some archival items from Special Collections.
This Saturday and next Monday, we also have an expanded exhibit (and Saturday there’s a reception). The expanded exhibit includes access to the website of the Virginia Tech LGBTQ Oral History Project — including oral history interviews, a timeline of events, and supporting materials; a 1986 AIDS conference video; It’s Reigning Queens in Appalachia [Vimeo], by Carol Burch-Brown; Luther Brice’s Chemical Magic Show; a student project from the '70's by Mark Weber on transvestites; Images from student groups; A video by Megan Myklegard reflecting her work for the ACC Creativity and Innovation Grant; Images from the timeline and images of participants in the oral history project; screens with headphones attached to accommodate listening to the oral history interviews; and a table for student, faculty, and community group literature.
For this project, I’ve had my hand in indexing the oral history interviews and in setting up the physical displays. I’m glad I got to do so much with a project that was already underway when I got here! The team working on this project has put together something great and I’m excited to see everyone come and experience the exhibit this weekend. A great write-up about the exhibit is on the Special Collections Blog.
While the start of my residency certainly felt like and adventure, things have been less adventurous in the last couple of weeks ... at least they've been less eventful. My things finally arrived, Spiderbane has continued to kill a few spiders here and there, I learned to keep my head above water while in the deep water fitness class, and I settled in to work on my projects.
For this year, my schedule has worked out so that I'm working with Collections & Technical Services (CTS - the behind the scenes library people) in the mornings. In the afternoons I'm with Special Collections (think Noah Wyle's The Librarian series ... sort of ... OK. Not really. But they do get to work with cool older archival materials.)
My mornings so far are harkening back to grad school when I first learned about creating databases. That's because I'm creating a database. The main goal is to pull together usage and cost data for electronic (and later all) materials to determine whether we're getting a good return on investment for each journal. Ultimately, we want to use the database to help determine whether to continue subscribing to journals based on how much they're getting used and how much they cost. I'm not in this quest alone. I've got the support of Annette who works with electronic resources and emerging technologies and Tracy in collections assessment and oh so many people on the CTS team. Plus, I've got my textbooks from school to refer to. Thank you Connolly & Begg for your wonderful Database Systems text and thank you Manga Guide to Databases for making it fun to refresh my memory on database basics.
Sixteen days ago, I started an adventure. August 10, 2015 was my first day as Resident Librarian at Virginia Tech. Getting to that first day took patience, hard work, some sleepless nights, and lots of dedication. Moving forward with the residency and my career is an adventure in learning, growth, and choosing who I want to be.
I am the first Resident Librarian at Virginia Tech (at least in recent memory). The stories behind how the position was created and how I came to be in it are digressions for another time. Suffice to say, I'm here and it's up to me to do something with the opportunity I've been given.
The residency program is designed to provide both a range of experience and some specialization for the resident. It is both a full-time job and a learning experience. The residency is two to three years and includes both a rotation through a few departments and specialization in a specific department with opportunities to publish or present (in the second and third years).
I'm the Community Collections Archivist, Community and Cultural Centers Librarian & Resident Librarian at Virginia Tech.