Summer Reflections during COVID-19

Written by Special Collections & University Archives Student Aide, Megan Williams,’21

The Coronavirus pandemic has challenged and changed our world in unprecedented ways. It definitely also changed the plans I had for this year!

When the University closed I decided to take some time off from my work in Special Collections and University Archives to focus on my courses and apply for museum internships. This time was useful for my schoolwork, because last semester I was working on four different research projects! Additionally, it allowed me to find some unique and exciting internships. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 all the internships that I applied for were canceled leaving me without an internship for the summer. Luckily my position in Special Collections and University Archives was still open, allowing me to do some work in my field of interest.

Working over the summer was definitely an interesting experience, because I completed most of my hours from home. As most know from this whole experience working from home has its benefits and its downfalls. One of my favorite things was being able to have my Miniature Dachshund puppy, Blu, as my co-worker! While it was fun to work from home with him, I missed being able to work with items in the collection.

A daschund sleeps next to a computer.
My remote co-worker, Blu.

For the limited time when I was on-site at the Library, I worked on inventorying the student and faculty directories and accessions.

Student directories on a table.

But for most of the summer, the closest I got to items in the collection was going through editing the items in the History 298 Michael Mello Collection. Mello was an alum who advocated against the death penalty and other issues related to criminal justice. The items in this collection are primarily newspaper clippings and legal writings that Mello kept in detailed binders.

The purpose of this project is to get students in History 298 to digitize, transcribe, and describe items within the Michael Mello Collection. Since this site has been created over time by different students, the metadata is not always consistent. Having inconsistent metadata creates an issue for researchers accessing the content. Therefore my role for the summer was to go through the site’s 221 items to make sure that the proper metadata fields were filled out and that the transcripts were complete. This project was a lot of work and is definitely an ongoing one.

HIST298 Michael Mello Collection site

While the past six months have not been what I or anyone expected for 2020, I have definitely learned a lot from this experience! I am excited to see what the rest of this year brings and hope to be back on campus full-time come January of 2021. To those reading this post – stay safe, remember to social distance, and that it’s a great day to be an Eagle!

October 16, 2020