Internship – Week 7

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!

October 5 – 9

Monday, October 5th (3 hours):
Today I worked for a while as reading room reference assistant. There’s an undergrad class coming in throughout the next two weeks to look at primary materials for a project; I’m there to help get the materials and assistant the regular reading room attendant. I will be teaching a treasures class on Wednesday so the majority of my time was spent creating a “cheat sheet” of notes. I know some of the treasures, but not all 15. Creating this document was more a matter of looking at past class notes and copy/pasting into a new document. Not too difficult, but very time consuming.

Wednesday, October 7th (3 hours):
I taught another class! Today was a class introducing the Lilly to some students, so we shared some of our treasures with the group.The class was supposed to be 50 minutes, but they showed up a little late so I only had ~30 minutes to explain 15 items. This class was much easier to teach because a)I’ve seen these materials before b)it wasn’t purely academic. This was “showing off,” in a way. It’s much easier to excited over materials that you’ve seen before. I still had my notes to remind me dates and a few other particulars, but on the whole I could just talk. I related how this primary sources can be used in everyday studies – I wanted to make these rare and precious treasures feel more accessible. We are a library(!) – the materials should be accessible. A few visitors wandered in at the end of class and I told them about the materials too. They just happened to catch me before I put away these great objects and got to hear about them all in one place. Hopefully, I left a good impression of the Lilly in their minds! Lastly, I worked on reference questions: one about correspondence in the Orson Welles collection with Duke Ellington.

Poe first editions from the Lilly Library (@IULillyLibrary tweet)
Poe first editions from the Lilly Library (@IULillyLibrary tweet)

Bonus: On this day in 1849, Edgar Allan Poe died… and James Whitcomb Riley was born!

Friday, October 9th (4 hours):
I spent the early part of this shift compiling a list of works for a Lutheran Bible study group. I want to get experience selecting materials and researching them; get the entire teaching experience. We have some very cool religious materials here at the Lilly and I’m excited to compile a new list. Rebecca even said that some of the materials could be used for a school group attending later in the semester. Rebecca and I met to have a mid-term discussion. We basically just reviewed the jobs that I have been doing, removed some jobs from our original goal’s list, and discussed what we want to do for the rest of the semester. I’ll probably upload that information to the Intern website this weekend. I spent some time as the Reading Room attendant, wearing the pager, retrieving materials. I routed some of the books from the Alice in Wonderland exhibit; and finally I helped shelve some materials in the vault.


Differences between UK and US (part 2)

You may remember a post I did a few weeks ago concerning the differences between the UK and the US (Part 1) personally noted during this summer’s British Studies adventure. I’m an American commenting on what I saw in the United Kingdom.

One of my fellow British Study librarians posted an article from The Guardian where an Englishman (Paul Owen) comments on the differences he’s noted while living in New York. It’s highly enlightening and a wonderfully opposite perspective from mine!

…funny enough, though, we note some of the same differences.

(UK & US Flags - Dot Matrix by gavjof via Flickr)
(UK & US Flags – Dot Matrix by gavjof via Flickr)

Here’s a link to the full article: (“A [very] rough guide to America from an Englishman in New York“), but I’ll give you my favorites below.

“…2. You need to tip for everything. If you think maybe you should tip, you should tip. You should be tipping me for this article.

…21. Yeah, that’s right. And bragging is considered perfectly OK.
22. And so is telling someone sincerely that you think they, or something they have done, is amazing and fantastic.
23. I mean it.
24. No, really.

…30. If you’ve got good health insurance, the doctor will give you everything you need …and more.
31. If you haven’t… Oh, God. Good luck to you.

…39. Order a cup of tea in a cafe or restaurant and you will be confronted with a glass or mug of lukewarm water with a teabag of some alarming flavour, like pomegranate or boysenberry, floating sadly on the top like a punctured dinghy, and some “milk” that is probably 50% cream, delivered on request. I’m just going to say it once: the water needs to be at boiling point for the tea to infuse!!!

…47. The weather really means business.

48. Americans are acutely conscious of race, in the way British people are acutely conscious of class…”

Seriously! Go check out the article! 🙂

Internship – Week 6

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 28 – October 2

Monday, September 28th (3 hours):
So, I thought I was going to teach a section of Hispanic Culture today… but I didn’t. While prepping for the class before the students arrived I was trying to force myself to remember what each item was… and I got nervous. I was already nervous, to be honest, but not remembering the significance of the items made myself freeze up even more. Rebecca, my adviser, was in the room and asked if I wanted to sit through the class while she taught it… hear the talk one more time. It gave me another chance to hear the information before I gave the class on Tuesday. It’s a humbling experience, especially when you feel like you’ve let someone (yourself included) down, but one lesson that is important. I needed help. I didn’t know the materials as well as I thought and Rebecca was able to step in for me.

Tuesday, September 29th (2 hours):
Teaching went well today! I showed up to the room a little early to review the items and thinking of things I wanted to mention. A few people showed up early and I talked with them fairly easily, but when it was time to start the room was full. Librarian mode switched on, but it wasn’t a smooth transition- I was tense. I got through my introduction speech and could tell that I had some nerves, but the cool thing was… I relaxed! About halfway through I felt myself relaxing and talking more normally. I may have rushed through the information a touch, but that’s to be expected. I was at my most relaxed when they students came up to look at the materials – I like answering their questions and interacting with them. Obviously not everyone is going to think books are “super cool,” but the few who do make it worthwhile.

Wednesday, September 30th (3 hours):
Today was a day on projects. Erika Dowell, the head of Public Services, asked if I could help her ascertain certain information on the Orson Welles scripts. She is in the process of writing a grant proposal and need numbers for her document. I spent the entire time tracking down the correct scripts and then counting the pages. This meant some quality time on one of the manuscript floors in the stacks.

Friday, October 2nd (4 hours):
I spent the early part of the day renaming files. This time, though, on the post-2012 materials. I checked at 2pm to see if anyone was waiting for a tour, but alas, there was no one. About halfway through my time I went to help Rebecca set up for an Islamic Studies class and the instructor guided us on her preferred order. I was there to watch over the materials during the lecture. Rebecca gave the introductory speech and the lecturer invited the visitors to the table. Unfortunately as soon as the group started to move towards the front, some people immediately went to the back materials and began to handle them. By handle, I mean pick the books up out of their cradles and flip through the pages as if they owned them.  I had to jump in quickly and tell them to kindly put the materials back… and then gave my speech on how to touch the materials.

Qur'an (juz' 9 of 30) (source: From Pen to Printing Press, Lilly Library and IU Art Museum)
Qur’an (juz’ 9 of 30) (source: From Pen to Printing Press, Lilly Library and IU Art Museum)

Some of you reading this may think, “they are just books,” and you would be partially correct, though these rare materials are also museum-like objects. You wouldn’t go up to the Mona Lisa in the Louvre and take it off the hanging, nor would you pick up a Ming Dynasty vase.

“But Kelsey – those are fragile materials. Books aren’t fragile.” Well, some books and manuscripts are fragile. Very fragile. Just touching them may cause the edges of the paper to break off due to paper acidity and time.

What I’d ask… is that for patrons to ask before touching materials or taking pictures. Every library is going to have different policy. (I learned this from visiting places on the British Studies Program.) The Lilly Library and others like it are trying to balance user access and material preservation. My guiding thought is that we’ve preserved these materials in order to use them now, but we also need to continue preserving them for future generations’ use.

Banned Books Week

Another blog post is live on
Lilly Library News & Notes!

This time it’s celebrating Banned Books Week… featuring Fruits of Philosophy by Charles Knowlton.

Fruits of Philosophy (Photo curteosy Lilly Library, Indiana University)
Fruits of Philosophy (Photo courtesy Lilly Library, Indiana University)

Banned Books Week is put on by the American Library Association in which they celebrate the freedom of reading whatever you want – the freedom of choice.

More information on Banned Books Week:

Take a second to check it out!

Internship – Week 5

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 21 – September 25

Monday, September 21st (3 hours):
I began this shift by setting up my first Lilly Library blog post in the WordPress dashboard. It was published on Tuesday and you can see it by clicking here! Hobbit Day was/is September 22nd and the Lilly has a great copy of The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was quirky and not too serious, though interesting information is passed on in the blog. I then spent some time updating a Social Media calendar that I created. It’ll give anyone the chance to look at it and potentially post something via the Lilly’s Twitter account (coming soon!). One of the staff members asked for me to put all of the US presidents’ birth and death dates on the calendar; he wants to tweet presidential information in the year leading up to the US presidential election (November 2016). Perhaps, something like this:

William Henry Harrison (Lilly Library images)
William Henry Harrison (Courtesy the Lilly Library, Bloomington, Indiana)

I put away some manuscripts and worked on the next blog post about ALA’s Banned Books Week. I also answered a reference email question: she was looking for an article in a manuscript collection stored off-site at the ALF (Auxiliary Library Facility). I ordered the box and responded that I was working on her question!

Wednesday, September 23rd (3 hours):
There will be a follow up post to “Happy Birthday, Bilbo Baggins!” that shows the Denham Tracts pamphlet where “hobbit” is first mentioned as a creature. Several years ago the Oxford English Dictionary contacted the Lilly Library looking for an original of this pamphlet; that’s how I found the information in the librarian’s class notes. I called up the bound volume, marked the page, and will have it in a blog post soon. I helped put away comic books from a class and then answered a reference email concerning the Philippine manuscript collection. At this point, I learned that the Philippine mss. can only be accessed with the help of an in-house guide. Every library is going to have little quirks that only the experienced librarians will know about; it’s definitely beneficial to ask questions.

Friday, September 25th (5 hours):
I started the day by learning the materials for a class I will be teaching twice next week. It’s Hispanic culture items for an undergraduate course and contains some really awesome materials! Rebecca, my adviser, has been teaching this class for the past several years and knows it very well. This recitation of materials may prompt my memory for Monday and Tuesday…

-We start out with some basic Spanish history: there’s a Quran, which shows the Arabic influence on Spain; a facsimile of a 12th century games book; a Spanish Missal; and a letter from Queen Isabel.
-Next is the New World: a print of a Christopher Columbus letter; books by Spanish conquistadors; maps of Mexico; and European propaganda on American natives.
-Finally, there’s some materials that are just pretty: Cervantes Don Quixote and a beautifully illuminated family document book.

I’ll let you know how the classes go next week!

Later I assisted Rebecca giving a library tour, worked on exhibition labels/bibliographic citations for the Hispanic culture class, registered some new patrons in the Reading Room, and wrote more blog posts. I’m finding that I want my Lilly Library blog posts to be concise. I’m taking a vlogbrothers view, in that I want the information to be bite-sized and easily consumable (unlike these Internship posts). People in today’s society don’t want to sit there and read a long blog post or watch a long video; they don’t have the time. These posts are more of an introduction or appetizer; if readers want to know more, they can do personal research or contact us directly. This up-and-coming Lilly Twitter account  should be similar, though that forces us to keep tweets under a certain amount of characters.

Happy Birthday, Bilbo Baggins!

It’s live!

My post concerning Hobbit Day is active on the Lilly Library News and Notes blog page.

J. R. R. Tolkien's impression of the literary character Bilbo Baggins, as seen in Tolkien's illustration of Bag End. Drawn by Tolkien for inclusion in illustrated editions of his 1937 novel The Hobbit. (source)
J. R. R. Tolkien’s impression of the literary character Bilbo Baggins, as seen in Tolkien’s illustration of Bag End. Drawn by Tolkien for inclusion in illustrated editions of his 1937 novel The Hobbit. (source)

Take a minute to check it out!

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!

Internship – Week 3

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 7 – September 12

Wednesday, September 9th (3 hours):
I spent a very large amount of time working on potential posts for the Lilly Library blog. I want to do a post for “Hobbit Day,” which celebrates Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ fictional birthday. The Lilly Library has some great Tolkien materials and there’s some really interesting information to say. Such as, where the origin of “hobbit” came from or the differences between the first British edition and first American editions (plural) of The Hobbit. Hopefully I’ll have that approved next week and then posted the following week. I’ll link that information to this post when completed! Another potential blog post is for ALA’s Banned Book week at the end of them month. The Lilly has a lot of materials that have been challenged for one reason or another and it would be nice to highlight a few.

J. R. R. Tolkien's impression of the literary character Bilbo Baggins, as seen in Tolkien's illustration of Bag End. Drawn by Tolkien for inclusion in illustrated editions of his 1937 novel The Hobbit. (source)
J. R. R. Tolkien’s impression of the literary character Bilbo Baggins, as seen in Tolkien’s illustration of Bag End. Drawn by Tolkien for inclusion in illustrated editions of his 1937 novel The Hobbit. (source)

Friday, September 11th (4 hours):
I started out by shelving manuscripts since they were beginning to pile up a bit. It’s nice being able to return a folder or box to it’s home. Spaces might be a little cramped between shelving units, but I’m starting to learn where the bigger collections live! I then spent more time writing the blog posts. Also, I started compiling a calendar of materials that could be featured when the Lilly’s Twitter page get’s up and running. I’ll have more information for you when that gets started! Yay, social media!

Saturday, September 12th (4 hours):
Today was my first weekend shift – it was voluntary, though. There was a freshmen seminar class from a visiting university and a booksitter was needed. Their class was on early book history (pre-1450), so group visited the Lilly in order to see the primary materials. I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about some of the things that I laid out and watched over… I’ve only taken the book history class post-1450 (that’s generally the date that we associate with printed materials). They started out looking at some very early materials: cuneiform tablets (2000 b.c.), a Roman tombstone, papyri fragments, and an early Qur’an. The next set of materials were early East Asian writings; and the last set were Books of Hours from the 15th Century and a chained book from the 12th Century. I enjoyed hearing more information about these early materials since I know little about them.

Internship – Week 2

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!

August 31 – September 4

Monday, August 31 (3 hours): File renaming! I sat for quite a while at the computer moving and renaming files in the Public Services folder. There were 15 years of research notes for classes and my job was to go through them to determine which were worth saving. I organized the files by date and moved all of the pre-2012 files into a folder. Going into that folder I started at the top of the list, opened the file, looked at what information was inside, and either renamed  the document (class name, professor, librarian, semester) or dumped it in a “Delete” folder for my adviser to peruse. It was super interesting to see the level of detail that many of the documents held! Many of the classes are usually one-offs and the level of detail depends on the audience, the length of class, and familiarity with the materials. For example, elementary students need to know different amounts of information than graduate students. Some of the documents that I sifted through only had catalog records; these were lists of possible materials for classes or reminders of what to pull… I put those in the delete folder.

Tuesday, September 1 (5.5 hours): This was a super chance to meet with several of the librarians and the director of the library. Rebecca, my adviser, wants to expose Sarah and me to as many different people in the library as possible to see how the cogs in the machine fit together. Today we met with Rebecca, Isabel, and Erika to receive a teaching demo and compare their different styles. They took turns delivering their treasures speech and showing us 2 or 3 of their favorite Lilly treasures. Here’s a quick summary:

“Silmarillion” book sculpture by Philip Smith (photo via K. Emmons)

There were slight differences because each had different interests and backgrounds to emphasize. Rebecca has an English literature background; Isabelle has an history/art background; Erika has an art history/fine arts background.

Later we met with Joel Silver, the director of the Lilly, to learn how the library was organized. Today, the library is divided by the type of service: public services and technical services. Public services are the librarians who answer reference questions, give tours, teach classes, and interact with patrons in the Reading Room. Technical Services are those who catalog the materials, organize the stacks, and maintain the collections. Obviously these are generalizations and both areas do more than what I’ve outlined, but this gives you an idea of them. Well,  Joel told us that this division only occurred in the mid-1990s. From the 1960s when the Lilly Library was opened to the mid-1990s, the library was divided by Book and Manuscript departments. The Book people weren’t allowed to touch the manuscripts, and vice versa. Certain materials in the collections are shelved oddly because of these past divisions: books are with the manuscript collections if the Manuscript Curator took an interest, etc. Every library will have its quirks and I think it’s important for new librarians to learn the history – even the dirty, gossipy history because those “truths” can reveal how materials are organized.

Friday (2.5 hours): I got to look at two illuminated books from 1478 and 1490! Specifically, I was looking at the watermarks in the paper for a patron who emailed us. We sent him a digital photo of a single watermark from each book, but he wanted to know if there were multiple kinds within the books. My job was to determine the answer.

Example of a watermark (By Rodak (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Example of a watermark (By Rodak (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
**Spoiler: there WERE multiple watermarks used in each book**
I replied with my answer… now we wait to see how he wants to continue. The librarians I’ve been working with think that sending him a single image of each of the watermarks isn’t too much to ask, but if he wants to know how many pages, or some other more intense question that it starts to get into research territory. We’re only here to help with reference work, not research work. It’s a grey boundary that can be difficult to define, but is important to determine. I also did some manuscript reshelving!