Written by Special Collections & University Archives Graduate Intern and Volunteer, Colleen Hybl
While I knew that I would learn and complete many different tasks as a graduate intern and as a volunteer, I did not realize the variety of tasks and skills that I would do. For the Spring 2019 semester, I was a UMW Special Collections and University Archives intern for my Masters of Management in Library and Information Science program, where I needed to gain experience in an academic library and digital preservation setting. This meant I spent half of my time in Special Collections and the other half in the Digital Archiving Lab. Then as a Digital Archiving Lab volunteer I am working on the Alumni Oral History Project.
In Special Collections, I was tasked to examine the President William M. Anderson, Jr. Collection boxes to look for duplicate materials, paperclips, privacy information, incorrect file names, and misfiled materials. Then I put barcodes in the management system, ArchivesSpace, and put them on the boxes. I also put labels on the boxes to identify them. This project took more time than originally conceived, because I was supposed to do over 30 boxes. I managed to complete 19 boxes out of a collection of over 30 boxes, which was satisfying for I saw them in their uniform barcodes and labels.
Left Photo: Boxes 1-6 of the William M. Anderson, Jr. Collection. Right Photo: Boxes 7-19 of the William M. Anderson, Jr. Collection.
In the Digital Archiving Lab, I did two tasks: scan photographic prints and negatives for a future digital collection and create a scanning and metadata guide. Older visual materials from UMW’s University Relations & Communications Department were transferred to the Archives to preserve and make accessible. This meant each photograph must be scanned, saved in an archival format, and have metadata. Each type of photographic material was treated in a slightly different manner for scanning purposes. I worked on the folder labelled “Belmont” as in Gari Melcher’s Belmont. This folder had many different types of material, including a surprise type of negative: a 4×3.4 inch black and white negative. This negative type looks like a standard film, but it does not follow traditional photographic film dimensions that we had previously encountered. By not having more information about this specific type of film, it can be more difficult to preserve the original item, but at least we still have the film in a digital format.
These two images show the front and back of 4×3.4 inch black and white negatives.
Besides scanning the photographs, I created metadata for each individual item, which allows people to search for them in the digital collection. To create the metadata, I followed the principles of Dublin Core. Dublin Core is a type of metadata standard that allows flexibility to describe an object, but still has uniformity that everybody can follow. You can learn more about the Dublin Core metadata elements we used for this project here: http://www.dublincore.org/specifications/dublin-core/dcmi-terms/#section-3
While learning about scanning and metadata was interesting and helped me gained skills as a librarian, my favorite task that I completed was the UMW Publications Scanning and Metadata Guide. This document was created to help future student aides and interns on scanning documents and creating metadata. The new guide has step-by-step instructions, screenshots, diagrams, and examples. I was so pleased with this guide! I also learned that my guide was used by the Historic Preservation Department for their work. This made me happy, because it meant my work was of high caliber, warranting use by other departments.
Even though my internship ended, I am still working in the Digital Archiving Lab for the summer to assist with projects that may not have a chance to be completed during the school year. I am currently working on a transcript project for the Alumni History Project. For this project, I am learning a different skill: the art of writing/editing transcripts. Transcripts are the written words of an audio file that help listeners comprehend the spoken words or are used by researchers to isolate the information they need. Depending on your institution, there are varying guidelines for writing transcripts, such as deciding how to write a pause or what to do with slang language. This meant it has been a challenge to figure out what must be included in the five transcripts I am reviewing. Because I have never done transcript work, it has taken more time than I originally thought. Currently, I am still working on the first transcript, but I am on the final time on listening to the audio to double-check my notes. I hope to learn more as I continue my volunteer work.