This week’s post is written by Monica Nelson, a student assistant at Davidson College’s E.H. Little Library.
For the past two months, I have been employed in the library as a student assistant. Before beginning my current position, I was unaware of the breadth of possibilities encompassed in library work. In addition to the circulation side of the library, I have had experience with the Systems part, as well as working in the Davidson archives department. While working on these projects, I have learned a lot about the history of Davidson unknown to me prior and have gained a deeper appreciation for the rich and unique history of the college. Below I will outline some of the projects that I have worked on through my past two months at the library.
While I entered the job with some base knowledge of Excel and a meticulous eye for detail, I have gained a deeper understanding of Excel, a background in the functionality of websites, a newfound knowledge and appreciation for Microsoft Access, and an introduction to the workings of Photoshop. As you can see, my job as a student assistant for the archives is something new every day.
The college timeline is in the process of an update in order to be more interactive and to highlight events that are integral to the Davidson community and identity. My work on the timeline has included researching events through the Davidson Encyclopedia to add to the events already present on the timeline. I have added links to these encyclopedia pages as well as relevant images and captions to enhance the experience of viewing the timeline. Through my work in the timeline and Davidson Encyclopedia, I gained my first experience of working with HTML and the functionality of websites.
College Letter Collection:
The college letter collection contains letters written by people from Davidson, many of which have been transcribed and annotated by Davidson College students. This project represented a transition from letters written only by students, to those by students and community members. My job was to incorporate the students’ work of transcription, annotation, and works cited into a post that included the Finding Aid with information regarding the letter(s), the original letters in scanned form, and an attribution statement which acknowledges the student(s) who worked on the specific letter(s). Once all the information had been integrated, I also had to make sure that the landing pages worked correctly, and this was checked through the links which are present on the posts. Each of the pages also followed a certain layout, so ensuring that all the pages followed the same standardized formatting was also one of my tasks.
Postcard Collection into Omeka:
The archives have hundreds of postcards that are associated with Davidson College. Another task I completed was digitizing these postcards so they could be viewed easily via the internet. Using the scans of the images, I uploaded the postcards along with relevant information including title, subject, description, and rights onto a site which holds the postcard collection. This project included working with a spreadsheet of information, as well as the networked “scans” folder (which contains the scanned postcards), and the Omeka platform (where the postcards collection will be housed and available).
Summer of Monuments:
A short archival project I completed was called the Summer of Monuments. Wikimedia Commons began a contest called the Summer of Monuments, using the National Registry of Historical Places, which includes four sites related to Davidson College – Eumenean Hall, Philanthropic Hall, the Historic District of Main Street, and the Chairman Blake House. While an image for Philanthropic Hall was already present, my job for this task was to utilize the archives photograph database in order to find relevant images to place on the website for the remaining three historic places. Once I had located some images and received approval from the College Archivist and Records Management Coordinator, Jan Blodgett, for their use, I familiarized myself with the uploading procedures of Wikimedia Commons and placed the selected images on the website, after formatting them though Adobe Photoshop. Once approved by Wikimedia Commons, these images joined the other historic places on the Summer of Monuments page.
My current project is making the alumni citations available through a database. These awards include the Young Alumni Service Award, the John W. Kuykendall Award for Community Service, the Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Alumni Service Award. In order to complete this project, I am learning learning how to use Microsoft Access and its various tools (tables, queries, and reports), as well as the continued use of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. The final product will be a searchable database which will contain all those who were granted an award, as well as their citation (if present), which will accentuate the great work done by Davidson alumni.
As you can see, my work as an assistant in the archives has emphasized new skills, while building on past knowledge. The work I am doing is assisting in making the College Archives more accessible to a digitally-savvy generation, since all of what I have done can be found on the internet. I hope you will join me in experiencing Davidson’s distinctive history and check out some of the interesting work being done here!