Internship – Week 4

As part of the coursework, interns have to keep a weekly journal of our experiences. Blog entries are acceptable and I thought this would be a great way to keep everyone updated on my library activities at the Lilly Library!

September 14 – September 18

Monday, September 14th (3 hours):
I spent the entire day working on reference inquiries. One inquiry was a matter of marking pages to be scanned. That was a simple enough task, just a little time consuming. Once that was completed I began work on the next question. A researcher wanted to know if we had letters from a certain person in our manuscript collections. He was able to give me a starting place, though, of the Bingham, W. collection. I first looked up the Lilly’s online Manuscript Collection Guide and selected “B.” Upon selecting the Bingham W. mss. I could see there was a finding aid available. (Not all collections have this). The finding aid took me to Archives Online at Indiana University where I scrolled down to find where these letters might be located. Luckily some where already digitized and the other few were easily found. To find another letter I had to turn to the card catalog. I searched the manuscript cards for the collection, didn’t find what I wanted, and turned to the cards arranged by correspondence. Success! I found the materials in the card catalog, found and retrieved the materials in the stacks, used paper markers to signal the letters to be scanned, and replied to the person by email. This whole process took the entire three hours. It’s amazing that librarians can answer so many reference questions in a day!

Card catalog at the Lilly Library (via K. Emmons)
Card catalog at the Lilly Library (via K. Emmons)

Wednesday, September 16th (3 hours):
Today a special group visited the Lilly Library. The librarian teaching the class has been working with a Visit Bloomington representative as liaison for this group. Unfortunately the liaison told the librarian to pull the incorrect time period, so she had to spend the entire morning pulling new materials and figuring out how they were significant! What’s normally done in a few days took place in a few hours. Things like that are bound to happen in a library setting. Information can be lost in translation and flexibility is key. Those situations can be stressful, but I sat through the presentation and thought it quite went well! Joel Silver, the director and curator of books, joined us to describe the Lilly’s history and answer any questions. Visiting groups can be a coin-toss: some groups are super engaged, excited about the materials, and ask a lot of questions; other groups can be very quiet and are there because an instructor told them go; sometimes there’s a mix. This group, to my mind, was a mix of people. A few had great questions about the library and seemed genuinely interested, others wanted to promote themselves or their work, and others were simply passing the time until dinner. I enjoy these classes, because I learn something new each time… but that could only be because I’m a relative green at all of this.

Friday, September 18th (4 hours):
I started out today by doing file renaming. I may have mentioned this before, but the Public Services department at the Lilly has a large folder containing notes from past classes – a vast collection of notes. I’ve separated the documents into pre- and post-2012, then renamed the useful files with topic/class/teacher/semester. The not useful files (lists of call numbers) were moved to a file called “Delete.” I returned some manuscripts to their appropriate shelf… I even returned a folder than had been homeless for the past few weeks! The true hero in that instance was a manuscripts archivist, Craig; he looked up the collections and suggested the likely home and he was right! I’ve worked a little more on a potential blog post for the last week of September too; that will be on the ALA’s banned books week. Then a class came in to see pre-1750 music materials. I helped Isabelle set up for the class and browsed through the materials while we waited for them to arrive. It was a smaller class, around 12 people, and she was able to have more of a conversation with the group about the materials. It wasn’t a lecture. It was more of a collaboration… they knew some things about the music that she didn’t, and so on. It was fun!

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