Thursday, February 25, 2016

Staci's Busy Last Semester!

Hey guys!

So it has been one heck of a kickoff for Spring 2016 semester. Not only is this my final semester (as long as everything stays on track that is!) as graduate student in the Masters of Art in Public History program here at Southeast Missouri State University; it is also my final semester as Graduate Assistant to the Special Collections and Archives in Kent Library. It’s been quite the journey over these past few years.

So far this semester the first week consisted of the start of classes complete with two separate winter storm systems. I made it to two of my three classes that week. Needless to say, the second week of classes was my first week. The third week of classes I spent at home because doctor’s orders to not go back to class or work due mycoplasma pneumonia aka “walking pneumonia” and voiceless for two weeks.

This semester I am the graduate assistant for Dr. Hoffman’s HP589 Historic Preservation-Based Economic Revitalization aka Main Street class. In this course students construct a feasibility assessment of a vacant building in downtown Cape Girardeau. This year the building is the Surety building on 320 Broadway. My advanced project for this class is to develop a market analysis for the feasibility assessment and class. I will be looking at the demographics, economic factors, current market trends of downtown Cape Girardeau, business trends and development, and residential trends downtown, and other factors. (Yeah, I get to look at the numbers and math portion of this project.) Not only will I be project manager for this but I will also be advising the groups as a “marketing consultant”. (Word of advice… Be careful of who you let know you can do math and can work with numbers.) I will also be the project manager for additional group projects throughout the semester.

I have worked on three separate exhibits so far. One exhibit is of the Cape Girardeau Jaycees Collection that Dr. Santoro’s HP450/650 class processed as a project for the class last semester. The collection was then donated to the Special Collections and Archives. Over the break, the wooden display case was relocated to the hallway, so our entry is flanked with displays. We now have two large bookcases within our domain that house the books of The Dan Back River History Book Collection. The wooden display case house items promoting new collections we have acquired: The Dan Back River History Book Collection and The Colonel Paul Stanley Bond Diaries Collection. I will be working on an additional exhibit later on in the semester for the Library; that means four exhibits total for the semester.

It has been a whirlwind of a semester so far and it is only the beginning.

I do know but it is going to be fun though!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Fall 2015 Special Collections and Archives Recap

Aww… the end of the semester, time to relax... read a book for pleasure…check up on sleep…

Oh, who am I kidding?

It is that time of year to become a headless zombie chicken rushing to get things done for classes, like papers and projects, while closing on projects at Special Collections and Archives, clearing out exhibit space, keeping up the Facebook page schedule, assist in “The Great Move” back into the basement, keeping up with schedules, and assisting patrons.

This semester passed with the speed of light or so it seems here at Special Collections but it has been a pretty good semester. We held a grand opening ceremony for a new collection, “The Dan Back River History Book Collection”, which contains a collection of rare books consisting of over 700 volumes and 135 periodicals on the history of rivers and steamboats in the United States. We had a new team of HP100 volunteers to help with our Leuders Collection. There have been three Faulkner scholars, this semester alone. We are preparing to acquire another collection once Dr. Santoro’s class finishes the processing project. The President of the University toured the Library and visited Special Collections. (I got to shake hands with Dr. Vargas!) There were visits from donors and alumni during Homecoming. And… drum roll please… WE HAVE A BASEMENT AGAIN! So now we’re are in a massive setup, move and shelving relocation process throughout Kent Library dubbed “The Great Move” (or at least dubbed by me anyways)

I accomplished several self-initiated projects in regards to maintaining and using our Facebook page for outreach. I worked with the several different departments on campus to promote games, speakers, and events throughout the semester. There are now “Trivia Tuesdays” on a monthly basis, showcasing photographs throughout our collection with a reveal on Thursdays. In honor of American Archives Month during October I dedicated posts to area archives and research facilities. These posts provided information on operating hours, location, type of resources, and “jewels” that the archivist and staff considered to make them stand out from other places. These places include the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center in Jackson, MO; the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis; the Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum in Altenburg, MO; and the State Historical Society of Missouri - Research Center in Cape Girardeau, MO. A graduate project for Dr. Santoro’s Problems in HP class consisted of utilizing Facebook as an outreach and crowd sourcing tool in naming individuals in the photograph portion of the in-coming “Cape Girardeau Jaycees Collections”. The Jaycees held a meeting and event November to assist with this on-going project. I held training with some of the staff in Kent Library on how to use the new microfilm reader in periodicals.

So this semester has been busy to say the least. It has been one of personal and professional growth for sure. I am ready for winter break, but at the same time cannot wait for next semester. Not just because it’s my last semester, graduation, and then internship either!

Until the next time, this is Staci Cox signing off!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Start of the Fall 2015 Semester!

The first year of graduate school has come and gone as did my first year as Graduate Assistant for Special Collections and Archives in Kent Library. Good news is I SURVIVED! Other news is here comes another year of papers, projects, and crazy hours. Alongside those though are gatherings with fellow graduate students and the history department for social things called Happy Hours, workshops, and the return to the hustle and bustle of routine on campus.

That being said opening week of the Fall 2015 semester here at Southeast has come and gone. The first week back both at work and classes seemed to go off without a hitch. Others and myself are still trying to get used to my new schedule with 9 hours but again, so far so good. Work at the Archives started in the week prior with researchers (in-person and e-mail), preparations for a UI100 class that will be researching buildings on campus (oh, architecture galore!), continued work on surveys and assessment (that's a whole new can of worms right there!), meetings, and getting ready for student workers to come back.

Now the actual first week back we had a couple of researchers with various interests, coordinating coverage with student workers and staff (it's an on-going project so to speak), a whole new meaning of "waves of UI100 students doing the walking tour of the library", meetings (within the Archives and out), work on scheduling Facebook posts of our page, several reference requests via e-mail, continued prep work for the UI100 class coming in for research, getting surveys ready for researchers to fill out (paper and online), train student workers on the new microfilm reader the Archives received during the summer, coordinating meetings and gatherings with student workers, and of course all of this on top of beginning coursework readings, brainstorming ideas for projects and homework. Plus having to go back in time to help with first grade and third grade homework with *new* math curriculum. (Psst.. I still haven't ever had to figure out if a train leaves Point A at 5 AM and reaches Point B at 9 AM. Another train leaves Point B at 7 AM and reaches Point A at 10:30 AM. When will the two trains meet?)

Pretty soon the beginning of due dates for projects and papers will be here before I (we) know it and the insanity that is being a graduate student taking 9 credit hours, working 20 hours as the Graduate Assistant for Special Collections and Archives, the I don't know how many hours outside the classroom for homework and projects, while juggling first and third grade, being on call with the school and social events - cheerleader, after school reading, Girl Scouts, etc., doctors appointments and commuting an hour and a half both ways will begin. So that being said here's to a new semester!

Whoo hoo! Let's do this!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

GA Duties and Highlights!

Being the Special Collections and Archives Graduate Assistant, I have many responsibilities to fulfill my job and role in the Archives. Some days, things go smoothly and other days it’s a juggling act. Every day it is something different and that’s one of the things I enjoy with this assistantship.
Some of my primary duties include:

·         Keep Special Collections and Archives open and operating for the public so that there is not an inconvenience in the event the Special Collections and Archives Librarian and Archival Assistant is unavailable.

·         Create arrangements and descriptions of archival collections. 
o   This includes authoring guides and other reference tools to facilitate the access of archival collections.
  • Create and upload metadata into contentDM for digital collections.
    • Miller Reserve Collection –current project

  • Assist patrons, including the University and the local communities, with reference requests regarding materials held by Special Collections and Archives.
    • Examples:
      • Visiting Faulkner researchers with the joint involvement with the Center of Faulkner Studies.
      • Regional historians or people interested in regional history
      • Personal researchers interested in subjects like genealogy, SEMO Athletics, Missouri history, African American studies etc.

  • Assist students with class projects or departmental requests with knowledge of the collections to expand their research and provide information.
    • Examples:
      • History Department projects
        • Classes: HP100, HP200, HP420, HP450, HP588, GH520, etc.
§  Mass Media Department
·         The Arrow

One of my favorite things when assisting researchers, whether it is for a class project, material for publication, or general interest, is hearing their inspiration behind their topic of research. I enjoy listening to their stories, their descriptions of where the research process has taken them (physically and intellectually), and even random facts of interest they have come across. In regards to assisting students, I thoroughly enjoy seeing that “ah ha!” moment of finding the information they wanted and needed. In all honesty, the whispers of ‘this is so cool’, ‘wow, I didn't know that!’ while they are looking through material, yeah that rocks.

Some of my public outreach and exhibit duties include:

  • Create and execute exhibits highlighting specific collections, history of Southeast Missouri State University campus, buildings, campus life, regional history, and specific collections housed in Special Collections and Archives.
    • The Wayne and Sandy Cryts Collection “One Man with Courage: The Wayne Cryts Story”
    • 75th Anniversary of Kent Library:
      • The Accession Books of Kent Library with Sadie T. Kent’s personal collection
      • Sadie Kent’s book “Patrons Are People Too: How to Be a Model Librarian”
    • Faulkner & Hurston Conference display in the Rare Book Room
    • Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity Papers Collection

  • Plan and promote community outreach programs.
    • Admin to the Special Collections and Archives Facebook page
      • Twice a week highlighting collections and events
§  Special announcements in the event of changed scheduled hours or closures

·         Assist in setting up Sadie’s Place in Kent Library for Athenaeum Series presentations, guest speakers, lectures, and special events at Kent Library.

So, one of my favorite things is definitely creating the exhibits showcases our collections and special events. This is my creativity outlet (plus my scrapbooking and design skills get to flex their muscles here). I enjoy the whole process of background research, going through the collection for material I want to be showcased, designing a layout sketch, cutting and mounting printed material, and then ultimately installing the exhibit.

By far the most fun I have had with exhibit work is developing an exhibit for the grand opening of the Wayne and Sandy Cryts Family Papers Collection last fall semester. Not only did we (two of the student workers and me) have to relocate the exhibit after the reception but we had to install a Ford truck tail gate as part of the exhibit. So had a glass display case, an old style Ford truck tail gate, and about 30 minutes of ‘a little more this way’, ‘no your other right’, ‘watch out for the case’, ‘don’t get stuck’, and ‘hang on, we lift on three’ before we finally got it installed…the first time. When the exhibit was relocated outside the Archives, it typical fashion it was a heck of a lot easier the second time around but the guys that helped me couldn't resist getting in the display case… or I should say I couldn't resist photographing them in the display cases. Plus it turned into a SCA family affair helping re-install it. 

R. Keough, a former student worker from Fall semester 2014, helping install the tail gate and listening to my directions of where and how to put items the way I wanted/designed them