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

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