Last year I had the fantastic opportunity of completing an internship in a special collections archive for my Library and Information Science Practicum. I learned a lot and thought it would be fun to share my experience with others.
I was able to complete onsite visits and interviews of various archives in the city, as well as, processing a collection and creating the collections finding aids for both written and metadata records.
Below you’ll find some of the objectives, activities, readings, and web tutorials that I utilized throughout the process, as well as, a list of onsite interview questions that helped me understand the similarities and differences between each special collection archive.
- Gain exposure to archive and special collection activities and issues within a variety of institutional contexts.
- Obtain a broad overview of activities, institution types, and positions in archives and special collections.
- Observe reference service interactions in archives and special collections department; participate as required.
- Observe and participate, as necessary, in collection development, acquisition, and donor relations activities.
- Arrange and describe a small archival or special collections collection according to institutional guidelines and standards.
- Create an Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aid according to institutional standards.
- Complete site visits and interviews with area archival and special collection professionals.
- Complete assigned and elective readings in archival and special collections topics.
- Attend appropriate department and committee meetings, as identified by supervisor.
- Participate in digital initiative activities, as appropriate.
- Bradsher, J.G. (1989). Managing Archives and Archival Institutions: Introduction to Archives. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
- Daniels, M. and Walch, T. (1984). A Modern Archives Reader: Basic Readings on Archival Theory and Practice. Washington, D.C: National Archives Trust Fund.
- Greene, M.A. and Meissner, D. (2005). More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Archival Processing. The American Archivist, 68(2), 208-263.
- O’Toole, J.M. and Cox, R. J. (2006). Understanding Archives & Manuscripts: Archival Fundamentals Series II. Chicago: Society of American Archivists.
- Olivieri, B. And Mehaffey, A.M. (2015). Interlibrary Loan of Special Collections Materials: An Overview and Case Study. RBM: A Journal of Rare Books, Manuscripts, and Cultural Heritage, 16(2), 113-126.
- Roe, Kathleen D. (2005). Arranging and Describing Archives and Manuscripts. Chicago: Society of American Archivists.
- Society of American Archivists. (2013). Describing Archives: A Content Standard (2nd Ed.). Chicago: Society of American Archivists.
- EAD Training resources: https://www.orbiscascade.org/training-1/; watch the “Recorded Webinars”.
- Archives West database: http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/index.shtml; do some searching and looking at finding aids in this system.
- OCA Best Practices for EAD: https://www.orbiscascade.org/encoded-archival-description-ead-documentation/; look at the document called “Best Practices for Encoded Archival Description”; these are the guidelines we use for creating EAD finding aids for Archives West.
- EAD Training: https://www.orbiscascade.org/training-1/.
Site Visits and Interviews:
Here’s a list of question provided by my internship supervisor…
- What is your job title and what do you do?
- What is the scope of your collection? What do you collect and not collect?
- What is your parent organization?
- Who are your primary users? What types of research and reference questions do you receive?
- What system do you use to manage your collections? Do you use Archivists’ Toolkit, Archives Space, and a homegrown system? Do you work with a library system? What are the benefits and challenges of your system?
- Do you work with born-digital or digitized materials? What type of digital program do you have?
- What is your educational background? What is your professional history?
- Why did you decide to enter this profession?
- What types of preservation and conservation activities do you do?
- What descriptive standards do you use? Do you use DACS? Do you create EAD finding aids?
- What suggestions do you have for someone considering archives and special collections as a career?