Thursday, April 16, 2015

Testing the Guide

This past week, I implemented the user test that I had designed for the new History research guide.  I enlisted five participants from the history alias, ensuring that I had one participant from each class year so that I could test the spectrum of students here at Gettysburg. 

I believe that the testing went great!  I used a program called Morae, in which two computers are connected over the internet, with one being used by the participant and the other recording the test.  The recordings show mouse movements, as well as video and audio recordings of the participant as they move through the test. 

Although I was in the testing room while the test occurred, I am very excited to begin watching the tests, so that I can pull out further themes and struggles that each person had throughout the test.  Over the next week or so, I will be decoding each of the recordings, in order to learn from what happened and so that I can make changes to the new guide based upon how the users reacted to it.  Additionally, I asked each of the participants to fill out a post-questionnaire, which included comments and suggestions for improvement.  An initial reading of the comments has brought up some interesting suggestions that I will definitely explore as I work to improve the guide. I am excited to go deeper into the comments that each participant made and working to incorporate their suggestions. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What some of the old covers looked like 
So as I mentioned two weeks, I re-housed a lot of old slides. I've added some pictures, to show the wear that old slide covers get and how slides need to be housed in specific, archival sheets. I got through all of the slides in the back. Then, Amy (archivist) and I went to look at some of the slides in this other area and we found at that there are lots of slides in nice, healthy slide covers, but they're all completely out of order. There are slides from 1986 in the same sheet as slides from the early 2000s. Instead of trying to sort through and rearrange all of these slides, I started to label the sheets with the years and the subjects of the slides. I also have a corresponding Word document that lists the slide numbers. the subjects of those slides, the years, and if there are photographers listed, them. It's a long process, so I'm not sure I'll be able to finish before I leave, but hopefully an intern or student worker down the road can figure out the process and continue it.

Moving the old to the new
The Old Slide Covers 
In their new covers!

 Melanie mentioned this in her post, but we've started working on an exhibit about black soldiers and civilians during the Civil War that will be shown in the Reading Room of Special Collections. It's exciting to find the artifacts we need, but it's incredibly difficult when we look through boxes and we see items such as slave shackles, chains, or wood from a whipping post. Sometimes I believe we view history from this faraway lens and don't fully understand it until we see documents or objects. That's part of why I love working up here - I have a fuller understanding of events that transpired but when those events/actions are horrible, it can make someone sad and really think about those objects and the history around them.

Finally, we took a library field trip to Washington, D.C. on Monday! Special Collections staff and student workers first went to the Folger Shakespeare Library, which was exciting for me because I've never been there before. We looked at the gorgeous Reading Room, saw some rare books (including one that was painted, a first folio of Shakespeare, and two books sewn together). We also visited their conservation lab, which is very big and has a lot of technology used for conservation that I didn't fully understand. Afterwards, we went to lunch at the Library of Congress, saw the incredible Reading Room there, and toured some exhibits. Overall, it was an excellent day - I love DC and I learned things as well!

For the last few weeks, Melanie and I will continue to work on the exhibit project and I'll describe and identify slides. I always say this, but I can't believe how fast the semester has gone by!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

So many projects, so little time

Recently I've been going back and forth between a few different projects.  I've been working hard trying to identify people in the digital photos from past Gettysburg College theatre productions in the GettDigital Theatre Arts collection.  The staff taught me how to use the ContentDM program so that I can actually have the website show the names I've uncovered.  I've been using yearbooks, alumni catalogs, and some of the staff from the Theatre Arts Department as resources.  At the beginning I was making a lot of headway with identifying people; however, things are going a bit slower now and the people in the pictures are getting harder to identify.

I've also spent some time working on the Fred Fielding collection we have.  Fielding is an alum of Gettysburg and was very active in both Bush Administrations.  His papers reference a lot of government programs and I am finding them very interesting to sort through.  At this stage I am just taking general notes on the materials in the collection so that we have a better idea of what we are going through when we actually process it.

Today my fellow intern Abby and I got introduced to a project that just came up.  One of the staff is finding herself a little overbooked, so they asked us to help with creating the new exhibit that will be displayed in the Reading Room of Special Collections.  Abby and I are really excited to be working on this project together, especially since it's the first project we will actually be doing as a team.  Today we spent our time looking through the artifacts from which the displayed materials will come.  The artifacts have not been stored in a particular order, so it was a bit of a process for us to start sorting through them in order to find the materials designated for display.  We found some really interesting things to look at while we were perusing the artifacts, including a military uniform from the 1860s!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Designing a Test

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been developing a new History Research Guide.  I have spent time digging through all of the databases that Musselman Library subscribes to in order to categorize them on the new site.  I was hoping to make the site as easy to navigate as possible so that students can easily find the right sources.  I finally feel that I have reached a point where the new guide is ready to be tested. 

This past week, I have done research into usability testing and have designed a test for the new guide.  I sat down with Ronalee, the library’s Director of User Services, to learn how to use a user testing program, Morae.  The program tracks mouse movements, clicks, and records the user so that an observer can go back and listen to their comments.  I have laid out six different tasks that each tester will be asked to complete, so that I can determine where errors or confusion might arise with the new guide.  For a sample, one of the tasks asks the user to find the contact information for the history liaison, Clint Baugess.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be searching for participants (preferably those who are taking history courses) to test out the new guide.  I am looking forward to learning from each of the tests, so that I can make changes to the guide. It will be interesting to see how others perceive the changes that I have made and I am hoping that those changes are good! 
Eisenhower and his grandson David at the
Eisenhower Farm in 1966. 
In the past two weeks, I've been working on the Whiting journal and re-housing the PR collection slides. I'm editing Kate Whiting's travel journal, which is coming along nicely! I would've loved to meet her and talked to her about her adventures, including but not limited to why she and her family picked the boat and places they did and if they ever took any other trips, I've re-housed a lot of PR slides and they look way better in the new covers. The old covers get sticky and start to smell funky when they get old. I'll post some pictures next time of "before" and "after." Today, I saw some slides from the 1950s - fascinating how different things were then! (They were laying the cornerstone for Stine Hall in one image).

 In other news, I was lucky, as a senior, to be asked to pick a book from Musselman Library to have plated in my room. Naturally, I picked a book relating to history - Dwight Eisenhower's second memoir Waging Peace. After my experiences with Eisenhower in my senior seminar, the Garthwait Leadership Institute, a program in the Eisenhower Institute, studying the Little Rock crisis for a class project, visiting his farm for fun and for a class, and various lectures/speeches on or involving him, I thought it appropriate to leave my name in the book of someone whose legacy has shaped my time at Gettysburg. The funny thing is, after I made the decision, Amy and I were looking at the 1950s slides and we saw some of Eisenhower campaigning in Gettysburg in 1952! What a coincidence. I have to say, after four years, I have grown attached to him.

I look forward in the next month to completing the finding aid for the journal and re-housing all (or as many as I can) slides!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Travel and Publicity

The Cover of Whiting's
Travel Journal
So in the past couple weeks (interrupted by Spring Break), I spent time cross-checking the PR files with the Finding Aid for them in Word, which some of the interns last summer compiled. It's incredibly detailed and I only made a few additions - they did a really good job! Since then, I've been reading and researching a travel journal written in 1898 by Kate Burr Draper Whiting. I just finished reading and taking notes on it today and it's incredibly fascinating. Whiting, around 60 years old at the time, took a two and a half month long "cruise" with her husband and two of her sons. They traveled to an incredibly amount of places, including Spain, France, Tunisia, Algeria, Jerusalem, Lebanon, Istanbul, Greece, Italy, and Egypt. Two of the most interesting part of the journal are the fact that it is typed (probably by a typewriter, which would become fully standardized ten years after Whiting's trip) and the multitude of photographs taken. Over 100 photographs line the pages of Whiting's journal. In 1888, George Eastman invented the Kodak camera, which allowed anyone to take a photograph while allowing others to process that photograph. In 1901, the Kodak Brownie became mass produced for the general population. While the Brownie was released after Whiting's trip and she does not refer to the process she used to take the photographs, I think the photography alters her narrative - not only did I get to read in great detail about the places, but I was able to see them as well. Pretty cool in my opinion!!
Street and Marketplace in Jerusalem

One of the Egyptian Pyramids
and a Camel
After this, I will be fully processing and organizing a Finding Aid for this journal. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it so far because of my dual love for history and travel, and look forward to completing more research on its author. Simultaneously, I will continue to work on re-housing the negatives from the PR Group, which will show me more of the College's history. As the second half of the semester launches, I look forward to more interesting work within Special Collections and Archives!

Monday, March 16, 2015

So Many Choices!

As the semester progresses, I have been working on many little projects to get a feel for the different aspects of reference librarianship.  One of the projects that I just finished working on was a collections development project, in which I got to work closer with one of our reference librarians, Kerri.  Collection development is an ongoing process, for there are always more books being written and published.

First, Kerri had me work with the McNaughton collection, which is housed in the library’s browsing room.  Each month, a list is published that includes all of the titles that will become available to be acquired for a collection.  I was able to look at the May 2015 collection.  There were so many titles, but of course the library does not have room for them all! It was so hard to narrow down the list from over eighty to twenty-five.  In the end, I looked for a wide variety of genres and viewpoints, as well as other factors such as the author and how popular the book was.  It made me realize how much thought and effort goes into developing a collection.

Additionally, I looked through a list that is published by the group Indie Bound, which highlights titles that were published by indie publishers.  With this list, I had to do some deeper research because there is no synopsis with the titles, so I looked up the book for its content and also for the reviews.   It was hard to separate my own personal interests in order to make decision that would benefit the community, but in the end I got the hang of it.

I really liked this project because it allowed me to see a different side of the library! Below are some titles to look forward to in our collection!