Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Last Post!

I cannot believe that this is my last post.  It seems like only yesterday that I was writing my first post about how my training for the reference desk was going.  This semester has been truly wonderful and I have learned so much.  Through the many projects that I have taken part in and my final project that I designed myself, it has been an amazing opportunity.

As a senior employee of the library, I was asked to pick a book to be plated in my honor.  It was certainly a hard decision to pick only one book! In the end, I chose Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I know that it seems a little cliché, but this book has influenced me as a reader and as a student.  I, like many of my generation, read this book as a young child.  I have always been an avid reader and this book remained one of my favorites throughout the years.  Additionally, I had to opportunity to read this book last semester in a class entitled The Golden Age of Children’s Literature.  That class meant a lot to me and helped me solidify my plans for after graduation.

With that being said, in the fall I will be attending Simmons College in Boston for a dual master’s degree program in Library Science and Children’s Literature.  I am very excited about this next step and I know that the knowledge and skills that I learned at Musselman Library will help me as I continue my education.  Thank you so much to the Reference Department for all your support this semester !

Monday, April 27, 2015

Last Post

I cannot believe this is my last week working in Special Collections and there are less than three weeks until graduation. My time up here has gone by so fast and I'm sad it's coming to an end! I've made a lot of progress and learned a lot as well.

On Mondays, I'm finishing what I can on the PR collection. I'm still going through binders, labeling individual slide sheets with what the slides are, and then adding that on to a Word document. My hope is that the next person who works on the PR collection will understand my notes and continue what I've done or something related to it. It has been interesting to look at slides from the 80s and 90s, especially at clothing style and how that has changed.

On the other days, when Melanie is in, we work on the Soldiers and Civilians exhibit. She mentioned a lot of what we've done so far, so I'll try not to repeat myself. However, working on it reminds me of how much effort goes into designing an exhibit and then implementing it. The objects originally in it had to removed and put back in their proper place, then we had to find the objects, pick a fabric to use, cut and install the fabric, rearrange the objects in the cases, find supports for some of them, craft fabric around some of the supports, and then give support to the old documents that are propped up. This week, we will have to work on labels to explain what the objects are. It's a lot of work for even a small exhibit and it reminds me how much work Special Collections specifically and museum professionals more generally put into exhibits. I've really enjoyed working on this partner project though - two heads are better than one and Melanie always has good ideas! Hopefully we will be able to finish most of it before the end of the week!

This has been an amazing experience and I am so lucky to have gotten it! Working in an archives is definitely a career option for me. I'll miss Gettysburg and working in Special Collections and Archives but I look forward to what the future holds.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Final Week!

I can't believe that this upcoming week will be my last as a Fortenbaugh intern! While I am sad that this semester is coming to a close, I am also very aware of all I have left to complete.  Abby and I have made great progress with our display.  The creative process has been really rewarding for both of us, and I know that I personally have really enjoyed doing this as a partner project.  We worked together to decide which fabric backdrop to use and we're having a lot of fun moving the objects around to see where they fit and look best.  It's really interesting to think like a curator and try to think about how people will look at a display.  What will they find most interesting?  Where do we want to direct their attention first?  These are all questions that we have to keep in mind as we work this upcoming week.

Abby and I have different schedules, so some of my time is spent working on other projects as well.  I am still working to identify theatre production photographs.  My goal right now is to get as much of the groundwork laid as I can for the more troublesome pictures, so that next year it will be easy to continue with the project.  I have learned so much from my time at Special Collections and I am so looking forward to continuing with some of my work in the year to come!

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!