Digital Archiving Lab Intern, Spring 2019

Written by Digital Archiving Lab Intern, Shaheen Fazel ’19.

In January of 2019, I began interning with the Digital Archiving Lab at Simpson Library. My background includes working and volunteering at public libraries and museums; however, I had absolutely no prior experience working with digital archives and collections. Simply being involved in this type of environment was incredibly educational.

My major is in Sociology, and I am minoring in Museum Studies. I pursued this internship in hopes that it would give me the experience of working in an archival setting. I was hoping to have an understanding of how a digital archive works. This internship has helped me decide that I am definitely planning on pursuing a Master’s in Library and Information Science, as I would like to become a librarian in the future. Working in the Digital Archiving Lab, I was able to experience different types of work that a digital archives and library deals with every day.

Some of my duties for this internship included digitizing and processing materials, specifically photographs from the UMW University Relations & Communications photo collection. I also had the responsibility of creating and writing descriptive metadata to go along with each of the photos. This eventually will be uploaded in the UMW Libraries’ Digital Collections for everyone to see. Scanning these photos was a great experience, as I had previously never dealt with handling items that have been significant to UMW’s history.

Before the semester ends, I will also have the opportunity to create my own exhibit! I will be able to freely pick the subject of my exhibition. Creating an online exhibit will allow me to understand what it is like to construct and display a public collection. However, the most interesting part of this internship so far is looking at every single photograph and the context behind it. Some of the pictures that stood out to me the most were group photos of students and/or alumni taken at special events, such as Homecoming and Reunion Weekend.  It’s amazing to see different generations of Mary Washington alumnae and students over the years. The photographs across the decades show how much the University has changed!

A photograph of about 23 alumni standing in front of a brick building for a group photo.

The class of 1942 gathers for a photo at the 1987 Mary Washington College Homecoming. UMW University Relations & Communications collection, Special Collections & University Archives.

Photograph of a large group of alumni sitting and standing close together for a group photo. They are in front of a tent on a large, grassy hill.

The class of 1977 gathers for a photo at the 1987 Mary Washington College Homecoming. UMW University Relations & Communications collection, Special Collections & University Archives.

Overall, I’ve learned so much about the programs and technology used for this internship. I’ve become more comfortable with Adobe Photoshop, as well as using Microsoft Excel. I was able to learn the archival practices in regard to digital preservation and organization! Due to my experiences interning for the Digital Archiving Lab, I feel as if I have developed skills and knowledge. This internship position has also further shaped my goals in terms of my future career as a librarian.

April 1, 2019